Saathi IIT Bombay
Stories of Campus - 4
Shardul Gaur - Electrical Engineering - 2010-14
I knew I was gay when I was 12 years old. Growing up, I created my own space with my secret, while always pretending to be someone else.
I went to IITB with my pretending personality, but it is hard to keep a secret while surrounded by people all the time. Things even got harder when my friends picked up some signs and made a big joke out of it. I started to lose confidence because the joke which my innocent friends were playing around with was actually true and it made me more vulnerable to the mockery. I was ashamed and scared of my identity. After 3 years, I gathered the courage to tell few of my friends about my sexuality. I was unable to see any future or scope of happiness. I cried multiple times in front of my closest friends who themselves didn’t have any answers.
After getting into the job, I started telling my other friends and also my brother. I realized that people are much more accepting than we think they are or maybe I was too lucky. Self-acceptance is of utmost importance when seeking acceptance. My brother was the first person who pushed me not be ashamed of being gay and take a step to find other gay people to date.
I finally found an escape when I moved to London in my job with Deutsche Bank, where I found the LGBT scene to be quite open (yet brutal sometimes), but still got a lot of space to grow and accept who I am. I made a circle of friends of many Indians including people from various IITs, who are very open minded but, some LGBT awareness was missing. Once, I was in a pub with a bunch of these new friends when I caught them making fun of a gay person. It took me some courage, but I confronted them and announced that I was gay as well. There was suddenly a long silence. That day gave me a lot of confidence to be proudly gay. I finally came out to my (extremely religious) parents in 2019 and it was not half as bad as I thought. They took more than 6 months and numerous discussions to get comfortable with the idea and to let go of the hope for a bride.
It’s funny how I never wanted to speak about my sexuality earlier and now I never want to shut up about it. I am extremely grateful to the people around me who helped me become a proudly gay person and I am very excited to spread awareness by being a role model for other LGBT people to help them accept themselves. I have also been associated with Deutsche Bank’s LGBT group “DBPride” who has, among a lot of other issues, done amazing work towards inclusive workplace environment, drawing support of senior management for LGBT community and making its employees feel welcomed no matter their sexuality of gender identity. It is always a journey which everyone has to travel by themselves but some helping hands on the way are often required.
I would like to tell everyone who reads this story (LGBT or otherwise) - live life on your own terms and never let anyone tell you who you can or cannot be!