Coming to Terms with Being Gay and Lesbian
By: Pulkit Sharma

While Indian law and society is opening up to acknowledging gay and lesbian sexuality, the struggle and conflict continues for people with these sexual orientations. In this context quite a few gays and lesbians feel shaken up, undesirable and depressed within. Lack of acceptance of their sexuality has an adverse impact on their sense of self. These pointers can be of some help in undoing this:-

. Building a positive sense of self: When you are different from others and this difference is devalued, it is likely that you will end up feeling bad about yourself. The negative feeling gradually extends to your entire self and impedes you from growing and developing. It is important that you constantly remind yourself that your sexual preferences are different from the majority and there is nothing wrong in this. If someone does not accept your sexuality it is their problem not yours.

. Developing a loving relationship: While many gays and lesbians go about exploring their sexualities and having short-term relationships, due to lack of social acceptance and internal fear quite a few of them shy away from developing a committed long-term loving relationship. A committed relationship can go a long way in fulfilling your sexual and emotional needs and make you feel good about yourself. Therefore, it is crucial that you deal with your fear and develop a loving relationship.

. Understanding your sexuality: The world is keen on categorizing people and the same applies to sexual preferences as well. People are expected to choose whether they are straight or gay. The fact is that a large majority is bisexual. Sexuality is not dichotomous but exists on a continuum. Do not fall prey to external pressure and rush to categorize yourself. I have come across straight people suppressing their homosexuality and gays and lesbians who have tried their best to suppress heterosexual longings. Through inner reflection you need to arrive at an understanding of your sexuality.

. Coming out: Trying to be open about your sexual preferences in close circles such as family and friends can be a stressful experience. Many times people take extreme steps such as separating and breaking ties from their close circle. This leads to feelings of pain, loneliness, rage and guilt on both the sides. Although in some cases this is the only option left, in many instances one can avoid it. It is important to stick to your stand and yet at the same time allow people close to you to express their emotions. When people see that your resolve is firm and yet you are trying to hear and understand them out of concern, they are likely to deal with homophobia.

. Sharing your experience: If we keep our thoughts and feelings bottled up we end up imagining worst outcomes. Therefore, it helps to share your thoughts and feelings with people you can trust such as close friends, a like-minded LGBT group or a psychologist.

Pulkit Sharma is Clinical Psychologist & Spiritual Therapist in private practice at Pondicherry (Puducherry), near Auroville. Email:- info@thepsychologistindia.com