Not everyone finds support within the family. Some might have to switch cities, meet new people, and foster connections outside of the place that they’re born in.
Such was the story of Yashu Pandey, who faced hardships, succumbed to peer pressures, and spent years understanding himself until he found someone who could inspire and encourage him to be true to himself. Over time, Yashu stepped beyond the walls he built for himself and felt at ease—being his authentic self.
Step into Yashu’s shoes to see ways in which you can claim your happiness, own the present moment, and move beyond societal barriers.
Yashu Pandey, Advisory
In those conversations where my friends used to talk and comment on their romantic interests, I couldn’t do more than pretend to be interested. I was never able to relate to them and found them to be almost repulsive. All this made me question myself and be more curious about my own sexuality. It led me to realize and accept that I am different.
Even though I had accepted myself, the social conditioning around me was such that, the thought of opening up, and confiding in another person gripped me with fear.
Taking routes of self-discovery
Then came the internet and its first agents, the cyber cafes. A new world opened up for me, through which I got introduced to others like me, and made connections. The digital space became my comfort zone, a space free of scorn, hate, stereotypes, and uncomfortable questions.
Over time, I mustered up the courage to come out to a family member I was closest to. While I expected him to comfort, protect and support me, fate had another experience in store for me. This family member chose to use the knowledge of who I am, against me, and even went to the extent of taking away my belongings and the money my father would give me for school picnics. Instead of feeling safe, I felt threatened around this person all the time.
He is all grown up now, understands things better, and is probably apologetic for his past behavior. Yet, it doesn’t change what happened—that encounter led me to live in fear, feel suffocated, and be under constant stress.
Exploring horizons, chasing sunsets
As every story has a turn for the good, mine came when I moved to Bengaluru to pursue higher education. I could feel the city accepting and welcoming me for who I am, more than the city I hailed from. When I took my first breath of freedom in a very long time, little did I know what all surprises the city had in store for me.
December 23, 2013 was a Tuesday. An unremarkable day for anyone else, perhaps. However, December 23 wasn't just another Tuesday for me. It was on that day when I first met my significant other—someone who brings me joy, a sense of comfort, and familiarity! Fast forward to today, and now this person, once a stranger, is the center of my life. We’ve traveled most of India by road in the last two years and made numerous memories with Phoebe—our seven year-old dog.
Back home, my sexuality is something we do not address, even to this day; still, my mother seems to know of it. Through forwarded messages, social media snippets, and articles, I try to make her more aware of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. And I am glad that she is one person whom I can count on.
Coming out is not a one-time experience. Queer people have to come out almost every single day, and it becomes a tiring process. You meet new people, they ask you about your girlfriend—and you have to come out. You meet relatives, and they force you into marriage—you can either come out or continue facing requests from them on a rather consistent basis. You meet new acquaintances—you have to come out. Some people even go to the extent of saying, "Why are you gay? You can easily get a good girl!” I tell them that being gay isn't a choice, it is who I am. At times, it is exhausting to argue about such things. Hopefully, the world will be more accepting in the upcoming years. Thankfully, I am braver, more confident, and financially independent now—and enough for me to not care about what society thinks; or how other people feel.
I am proud to be gay both outside and at work. At Deloitte, I am a boomerang, and in both my stints, the organization has given me the opportunity to be my true self without any judgement.
The work environment here, especially our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, are extremely supportive, as they provide a platform for us to share stories, inspire others, and be inspired.
Today, as I share my story, I’m also thinking about the next road trip on which my significant other and our dog, Phoebe will accompany me. To be sure of oneself, charter a new journey, and finally come out to the world is not an easy task, but what lies ahead will make it worth it.
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The views expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of his current, former, or future employers or any organization with which he is associated.