Friday, June 26, 2009

Live-in gay couple still in the closet


Live-in gay couple still in the closet

26 Jun 2009, 0210 hrs IST, Shonali Ghosal, TNN

NEW DELHI: Every morning, without fail, Ravi wakes up well before the maid knocks at the door. While his lover Harsh sleeps, he folds the sheet and straightens his side of the bed. Then he goes to his own room and ruffles the sheet. It’s a daily ritual. Ravi needs to create this setting every day because he doesn’t want the maid to discover his closely-guarded secret: they are a gay couple.

It isn’t just the maid. Barring some friends, neither their parents, nor their landlord or neighbours know that Ravi and Harsh (names changed) are homosexuals. They haven’t, as the expression goes, ‘come out’. Staying in the closet has enabled them to live together posing as just roommates.

“One day I forgot to fold up my sheet in Harsh’s room. We were really scared thinking what if she finds out? There’s a lot of stress and tension over the slightest of things in our life, in order to keep our relationship a secret,” says Ravi.

Ravi, 22, works for an MNC in South Delhi. Harsh, 24, is a computer engineer. They share an apartment in Gurgaon. They have been living together for about six months now.

On several occasions, they were almost ‘caught’. Once a friend of Harsh came over when the two really weren’t expecting company. “We got into our separate rooms. But when he went into Harsh’s room he smelt perfume and asked what that was all about,” says Ravi, who’s over six feet tall.

His partner made up the excuse that he had been with a woman whom he picked up the night before. “His friend bought the story instantly and even congratulated him! It is sad because it only means that for some people it is okay to be loose and immoral but not gay. The friend would’ve walked out on him if he had found out his sexual orientation,” he says.

On another occasion, the two had gone for a walk at night and were holding hands when a cop saw them. He slapped them and asked them what they were doing.

“Thankfully Harsh had a cigarette in his hand and we pretended to be just exchanging that. Since the cop had seen us from far, he wasn’t sure of what he’d seen. We told him we were just walking home after a drink and got off with a heavy fine. I don’t know for what,” says Ravi.

Despite the constant worries and the need to be really careful all the time, Harsh prefers it this way. “We are afraid of being discovered not only for our own sake but for our families. Even if we assume our families will eventually learn to accept us, society will not. We don’t want our family to face the consequences. We’ve seen it with our other gay friends who came out.”

Adds Ravi, “Even your job is at risk. You don’t get accommodation anywhere. Life becomes a living hell.”
Some of their close friends cut them out once they came to know of their sexual orientation. “Quite a few, especially male friends, begin to behave differently and are almost scared of interacting with us. A few made us the target of their jokes saying things like ‘couldn’t find a woman so he decided to turn gay’. We have even been called faggots to our face,” says Ravi.

The couple adjust their behaviour according to the place and the people around them. “If we are at a party at a close friend’s house, where we know most people, we sit back and relax. But if it’s anywhere else, we are really conscious and go out of our way to behave like two ordinary guys binging together. Even among our friends we have different levels of comfort with different sets of people,” he says.

“Even if it’s just the two of us and we are out for dinner to celebrate an anniversary or something, we cannot do simple things like holding hands because of what other people will think or say,” says Ravi.



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