Stories of Campus - 3
Aditya Joshi - MTech/PhD CSE
I am a 'double-alumnus' of IIT Bombay. I was fortunate to complete two degrees there: Masters and PhD. During my MTech, I was a closeted student and there was no Saathi on campus. I had LGBTQ friends but I would be scared to be seen with them in public. I lied to my batchmates about having a girlfriend. The feeling of being dishonest was overbearing. When Harish first told me that he was going to talk to a professor about setting up an LGBTQ support group, I had told him, "Is IIT ready for it?"
A year after I graduated, I came out to my parents. While they were coming to terms with it, I enrolled myself as a PhD student in the IITB-Monash programme. During my PhD, I came out in a Saathi video - it was really a leap of faith. Soon after, I started to contribute to Saathi events on campus. As we organised talks, movie screenings and play stagings on campus, we realised that positive conversation about LGBTQ people was growing. Thankfully, I was extremely fortunate in terms of the people around me. My PhD supervisors, professors and staff in my department, staff at the IITB-Monash Research Academy, all my project collaborators and my friends were extremely supportive of me. Often, my friends were questioned about their sexuality just because they were hanging out with me. Luckily, they knew that my truth about myself was only one aspect of my personality. I was cool to hang out with - and that's all that mattered between my friends and me. Being out allowed me to focus on my PhD research without having to bother about covering up who I was. My honesty about my personal life allowed me to work hard and focus on my academic research.
When a scared MTech student like me became an out PhD student, I realised the power of speaking the truth. I experienced how liberating being honest about myself was. To me, my Pride as a gay man lies in this experience of truth and honesty.