Familial support is essential, especially to the people of the LGBT community when they are trying to come out to the world. In the book, ‘Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child,’ Michael C. LaSala writes that kids, on average, come out to their parents by the age of 17. It is important to have the support of your family before you come out to the world.
‘Familial support’ should look something like this.
However, that’s not always the case when you’re dealing with a typical, orthodox Indian family. Familial support is uncommon in Indian families. This is what happened to Ishita when she came out to her family.
“I came out to my family but they obviously didn’t support me. I’m glad I took a stand for myself. My parents didn’t help me with my mental health awareness, either. I suffered for 4 years without any familial support, but now I’ve learned to deal with it. My familial environment hasn’t always been healthy and that has just made me stronger. I will be a better parent to my kid. Parents need to understand the importance of mental health awareness. They need to talk to their kids and not belittle them. We have social media to help us understand mental health awareness but I feel parents should be made aware of it more than anyone else.”
I’m glad Ishita took a stand for herself and is coming out as a stronger person from her experiences. But what happens when someone from your family threatens to out you?
One respondent had a horrifying incident to share with us.
“My girlfriend’s sister-in-law brought the man she was cheating on her husband with, to her place. When confronted, she threatened to out my girlfriend (this is before 2018) and accused her of doing a “bad” deed. The father was severely hit with dementia and schizophrenia and my girlfriend had to tend to her father. Our relationship and our sex life haven’t changed a bit but when I look at families and my surroundings, I feel sick. I feel I don’t belong here. It feels it’s us against the world.”
Ankita had a live example of familial support gone wrong before her eyes, so she decided to tread carefully.
“I identified as bisexual growing up. I had an uncle who was also bisexual (or gay, I’m unsure) who was shunned from the family. He cut off ties and moved away. Experiencing that had a negative impact on me so I stayed in the closet in fear of being ostracised.”
It is difficult for people to come out of the closet. Especially if the society has decided to put too many locks on it.
“I once turned down a guy and he ended spreading rumours about me being easy. I was shamed and people even wrote comments about me. I couldn’t even connect with anyone as I feared that they will use the knowledge that I’m a lesbian and bully me more.”
Imagine living your entire life without any kind of familial support. Unfortunately, many kids who are struggling to find an identity for themselves, also have to fight their family for approval.