Testimony of DS – 26 year old man originally from London, now living abroad
23rd April 2008
I knew I was into men when I was around 12. At this time I was living in Southall in west London. I was a Sikh who wore a turban, and I was living with my parents who had very strong religious beliefs.
My life was kind of planned out for me, due to the society and culture that I lived in. I never saw myself ‘coming out’ to embrace my sexuality because I knew my folks would not accept this. We were a very close family and I was a bit of a ‘mummy’s boy’, so I did not want anything to come between us. So just like everyone else did, I started going out with girls…lots of girls. I was trying hard to embrace being straight so that I would be able to get married and have a family of my own one day.
It’s not the best of feelings to have when you can’t be who you are for the people that are the most important to you in your life. All I wanted to do was to please them and to keep their respect. Back then I thought that I would be disgracing the family name if I even spoke about any such feelings. Back then, the only thing that my folks thought about was “community, community, community”, to the extent that the community ruled our lives. A lot of us actually started to believe that the rules within our community came from our religion (I know, how bad is that) but it is the misconception that a lot of kids grew up with. This was very harsh on us. It also made a lot of us rebel. And I guess it was when I took being a rebel to the next step that I ended up going on a gay chat line.
I went on to chat to others and see what it was like. How it was for them being out and living lives as openly gay. Whilst I was doing that, I started chatting to a guy on a website who I kept in contact with for a few months. I told him I would just chat and that we could never meet up, but as one always does I ended up giving in to him. He lived in another city which was good for me as I could make up an excuse and get out of my home for the weekend to go to see him. I was still very reluctant for him to touch me when I went to see him. Even in normal conversation when he was flirting with me it felt so uncomfortable and wrong because of the way I had been bought up. I was in my mid teens at the time, and it was all new to me.
It was after him that I told one of my college friends that I was this way inclined but I felt that my religion and my community were meant to rule my life and thoughts. I cried many times with her. She was Spanish, so she did not understand my specific situation very well but she did understand it to a certain extent as the culture and community aspects are quite similar.
I told her of a guy I went to school with who came out after we had left school and how everyone took the mickey out of him because they didn’t understand what it meant to be gay. My friend told me to get in touch with him to ask him as he would be my closest bet to helping me decide whether or not to come out as gay.
When I told him I was gay, his initial response was “I’m not surprised!” When I asked him about my insecurities with regards to coming out within such a difficult community environment, he just said “Well as for society, it’s only our generation that would know. They won’t tell the older generation and anybody else just doesn’t have to know. As for religion, what exactly has it given us apart from division and boredom?”
I was very impressionable at that time and I didn’t know a lot about my religion. I had long hair, and went and got all my hair cut off because I felt that if I didn’t wear a turban anymore then I wasn’t really a part of being Sikh and so I wouldn’t feel any guilt for going out on the gay scene and meeting guys. At this point, I started living two separate lives. On one hand I was living the life of a Sikh boy living at home and being everything my parents wanted me to be. On the other hand, when I was away from home and from my family, I was a completely different person, free from religion, free from community, free from it all.
The first time I went to a South Asian gay nightclub, I had the biggest heart attack going because I could not believe that there were so many Indian Muslims out there! Apart from that, I felt like I was at an Indian wedding and the drag queens there all looked like some very ‘interesting’ brides! It felt good to be there, though. It felt safe, secure. As I was still not too sure about going out on the mainstream gay scene in the UK, when I went to the nightclub I knew that I was not the only one going through the issues and difficulties that I was, and I knew I was not alone. I also got involved in a support group for South Asian gay men; we would meet up once a month or so and discuss various issues that concerned us.
Looking back on things, I feel that I am a lot more secure with my sexuality now as I’m not in the hiding anymore. All the people I love around me know about me. It has been a difficult journey but I’ve had some very good friends to help me out.
I still don’t know if I am doing than right thing or not by living the lifestyle that I do, but what I do know is that I am being true to myself and that my God will accept that. I will not ruin a woman’s life by saying that I will marry her and have ten kids just to keep my family and my community happy. Instead, I’m going to wait for my Prince to come by and sweep me off my feet!
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 ‘take the mickey out of’ means to ridicule