This Is My Family: ‘We Let Our Son’s Boyfriend Live With Us’
“And we’re never letting him leave.”
In This Is My Family, we explore alternative family structures and the institution of marriage in India.
I remember the day my son came out and told us that he’d fallen in love with a boy. All my dreams about having a daughter-in-law and seeing him get married were shattered. It was difficult for me to see him with a boy, to imagine them spending time together. It’s really sad that we think about what others will say instead of thinking about how our own people are feeling.
I regret that I dismissed my son’s feelings and didn’t care enough for him. I feel bad about making him feel like it was all his fault when he had actually done nothing. I wish I could go back and apologize to him for the way my husband and I reacted. I want to tell all parents to give their children a chance with their choices and that you don’t necessarily have to accept everything, but you don’t have to deny them a shot at happiness either.
It was only natural for us to react in the manner we did, but I’d request everyone else reading this to be more accommodating and understanding because I know that seeing my son and his boyfriend together makes me happier than I would be seeing him with a girl he didn’t love whom we had pushed on him. It gets lonely when either of them is out on a business trip, and my daughter will be angry at reading this, but I miss my son’s partner a lot more when he’s not around, than I miss her when she’s in the U.S.
I was never attracted to girls, but nobody believed me. Everyone thought I was too young to be thinking that way and when I’d grow up, I’d eventually fall for someone of the opposite sex. I never spoke about it, but in my head, it was clear that I was gay. If someone were to come and tell me otherwise, or tell me even that there was a chance I was bi, I knew I would deny it. Why would I otherwise be interested in watching gay porn, subscribe to gay erotica online, look for gay meet-up clubs?
It was at one of these meet-ups that I met my boyfriend. It was so evident that we’d fallen for each other. I was just 21 then, and he was 24. We spent the evening chatting over beers. We went home and continued texting and now that I look back, I don’t remember a minute I was away from my phone. We met every evening, sometimes just to go for walks, attend gigs or get a few beers. It felt like everything had fallen in place. I felt secure, calm and happy. And I wanted my family to share this feeling with me.
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But what happened next shook me. Although they always had an idea that I was gay, they didn’t take the news well at all. My mom started blaming my dad for being so liberal; my dad started blaming her for not keeping a check on me; and it felt like I’d killed someone. They consulted priests to ‘correct’ me, asked me to visit a counselor, grounded me for a while, confiscated my phone and kept belittling me for “turning out this way.”
I wasn’t angry. Somewhere, when you know you’re ‘different’ from normal, you foresee these reactions and know that patience is the only way to deal with it. So, I kept quiet, listened to whatever they said. Yes, I cried myself to sleep on most nights; I couldn’t talk to my boyfriend and it was killing me.
When I started avoiding family meetings, my parents spoke to my sister and her husband, who came down from the U.S. That was the turning point of my life. First, they came and spoke to me about how I’m feeling and told me that everything will be okay. Then over a couple of sessions, they convinced my parents to let my boyfriend visit and stay with us for a couple of days to explore various facets of a gay relationship. They did, and to date, that has been the most overwhelming feeling of my life. For my boyfriend’s family, they had always been fine with his choices and orientation.
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The first few hours of his visit home were awkward. My mom didn’t say anything; dad was trying really hard to make a conversation, but my boyfriend was being amazing with the way he was steering the meeting and making them feel comfortable in their house, when it should’ve been the opposite. My sister and her husband kept pitching in as well and made jokes, made everyone laugh to lighten the mood of the conversation. The first meeting went well and, over the next couple of days, my parents asked him to keep visiting us, not because they wanted to see how he was for me but because they were having fun having him around. As far as I was concerned, I couldn’t have asked for more.
When my parents got to know that my boyfriend’s parents were moving out of the city and that he was looking for a home to live in, they told him to live with us, since my sister’s room was empty. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was the most thrilling thing to be happening to me. We helped him move in, settle down, and now my family can’t think of not having him around. We both go to work, come back and have dinner with everyone, watch a movie or read books, visit friends and have friends over. We celebrated the decriminalization of Section 377 with everyone at home, and I remember everyone crying with us.
We’ve been together for four years, and it’s been a wonderful journey. What’s the next step? No one knows. What we do know is that he’s not going anywhere. Sometimes, my parents joke with me that I can leave the house whenever I want to, but they’re never letting him leave. It’s funny how things take shape.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.
Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she's busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.