Vikram

Cleveland + Ohio

To Be Real

Gay + Male / 23-29 / Indian / South Asian / Hindu

I grew up as a happy, second-generation, South Indian child in Saint Peters, Missouri. It was the type of place that provided the stability of suburbia, but for someone who was different, the uncertainty of living a lifetime of status quo. In a video from when I was four years old, I received a new vest as a gift and immediately complained about how there were “no pockets.” This video clearly indicated my early eye for fashion and attention to detail. Classic Bollywood films filled my childhood and I learned every lyric and dance sequence, especially those of Asha Bhosle (the original Bollywood Britney). As I grew older, however, I started paying more attention to the male leads. My first Bollywood boy-crush was Salman Khan from Maine Pyar Kiya. My point is: the clues were there all along.

In adolescence, I evolved to survive in the toxic teenage environment. Traces of my ethnic heritage were cast aside so that I could fit in with my peers (bye, bye, Bollywood). Nevertheless, I still met the metrics that any good Indian son should (I excelled at school and was accepted into an accelerated, integrated undergraduate-medical school program after high school), but I couldn’t repress my personal truth forever. I would love to say that coming out is easy and only happens once. Although that isn’t true, it definitely did get better.

I didn’t know where to begin sharing my secret, but the moment I started becoming depressed, I knew I had to start somewhere. I came out to my friends first. Fortunately, this was uneventful. Next, I told the rest of my family, except my mother. There was no fanfare. Lastly, I told my mother. The initial fear was overwhelming but in retrospect unfounded. At first she expressed shock, but not sadness, anger, or disgust. She honestly just had questions. Once you come out, your mother will decide it is okay to share all sorts of details with you that you never cared to know. You are now her younger, cooler, more sexually adventurous counterpart. I consider myself lucky (or unlucky) because I know this is not the experience of everyone, but I have had numerous bumps in the road, too. Despite this, one truth resounds: nothing feels worse than being in the closet. That is the ultimate alienation.One of the frustrating aspects of being a second-generation Indian is sometimes feeling alienated in four communities: America, India, the Indian community in America, and the gay community. While there is no specific anti-gay rhetoric in Hindu religion that I am aware of, Indian society can be judgmental. Americans, all cultural groups, and gays face a long journey towards eliminating stereotypes and addressing their true feelings about race. I believe one of the best ways to change people’s minds is to come out as you, your true self. For me, that means being an American, a Missourian, an Indian, a surgeon, and a gay man. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there has never been a better time to come out as yourself.

One of the frustrating aspects of being a second-generation Indian is sometimes feeling alienated in four communities: America, India, the Indian community in America, and the gay community. While there is no specific anti-gay rhetoric in Hindu religion that I am aware of, Indian society can be judgmental. Americans, all cultural groups, and gays face a long journey towards eliminating stereotypes and addressing their true feelings about race. I believe one of the best ways to change people’s minds is to come out as you, your true self. For me, that means being an American, a Missourian, an Indian, a surgeon, and a gay man. Wherever you are, whoever you are, there has never been a better time to come out as yourself.