My Coming Out Story: Nikhil
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It’s the second installment of our new series - Coming Out - where we share your personal experiences and stories. Sometimes coming out can be easy, sometimes it can be difficult. Some people choose to tell their friends first, and then their family. Some people come out at an early age, some later in life. No matter how and when you do it, it’s important, and it’s part of who you are. And we’re here to celebrate that. Today, we hear Nikhil’s story...
TW: self harm
Growing up in an Indian household, with high expectations, was hard. You see, before I was even born my life was planned. I know this because my cousin got married and before she even got pregnant she and her family were dreaming of their baby’s life, planning it step by step. As for me, I was told from a young age to “study, work hard, get a good job, become comfortable, get married and have kids.” Other than getting married and having kids, my life is going well, as per the plans.
My mum and dad got divorced when I was young, and because of this, within the Asian community, we were socially shunned and excluded from events and family gatherings. I knew that holding the biggest life changing secret - of being gay - would just bring more shame to the family, so I didn’t tell anyone. Little did I know my mum already knew. I guess it is obvious. And despite being accepted by my mum, I was scared about my dad’s reaction. And you know what? He also accepted me.
In my school life though, I was bullied. No one understood in my school, nor did they offer LGBTQ+ support. I turned to self harm and I became depressed. I came out to my friends , and some supported me. Some didn't. Every week during PE class I was pushed to the ground, accused of “looking”, my books and my clothes got wet after they were thrown in the showers. I guess I just dealt with it alone until school ended.
In 2017, I saw an advert for NCS that said “make lifelong friends, meet extraordinary people, get confident”. I signed up and I gained all of it! I found self love by talking and exploring and meeting other people like me. Saying yes to NCS changed me and helped me to be confident. I went to college soon after NCS and I felt invincible.
Two years later I told my mum - who already knew - then my dad, who said to me “you are my best friend gay or straight”.
In 2017 I got a notification from the Indian news and I was informed that “on 24 August 2017, India's Supreme Court gave the country's LGBTQ+ community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation.” The fact it was not illegal to love a man in the country that my family is from means I am more free than ever. My grandparents, who live there, still don’t understand though. They think it’s a temporary illness, and still talk to me about marriage with a woman. I do love them and they love me, but above anything I have self love, and I will continue life how I want to, not how they think I should.
I know a lot of people have a hard time coming out, and deciding when or how to. I didn’t understand that what felt like such a small issue to me would be such a big issue to others. And during my time at school I felt like I had no one to talk to. I was so depressed and ended up in a bad place, self harming myself, and even ending up in hospital. I felt so alone. But I just want everyone to know they’re not alone.
Don’t be ashamed of your identity. Every scar, every mark is a story. It’s my story that one day I can call a fight for love. I suffered with poor mental health for five years. It’s been four years since I came out now, and my mental health is better than ever..
I’m now twenty years old, enrolling at Derby University, and life is great, I feel happy. . And that’s because I can proudly say I AM GAY.
Coming out is your story, it’s your journey, so don't rush it, and remember you are not alone. You are always loved. You have friends, family, or a community around you. Be proud, and love yourself. The most powerful love you will ever receive is your own, once you accept that things will fall into place. Because love is love.
If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, feel free to follow my Insta at @nikhilana20.
If you have concerns about loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety or self harm; you can contact The Mix who offer free information and mental health support to under 25s or contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk. If you feel like you need some help with coming out, why not take a look at Stonewall’s advice.