Finding the Way Out: How a Gay Man from India Overcame Adversity in Pursuit of Living His Best Life
By Katy Ray
Qutie is the dating and social networking app that connects queer people from around the world, and when we meet app users like Kaustav, with real stories of strength and resilience, we want to share them with our community. After all, it’s stories like Kaustav’s that inspire us, connect us, and keep us motivated on our journey. If you’ve ever struggled with accepting your sexuality, or with a homophobic community and/or country, read on to find out how our Qutie Kaustav has found himself thriving after facing homophobia, social rejection, and more.
.As a cisgender gay man brought up in Kolkata, India, Kaustav has experienced obstacles, both internally and socially, while coming to terms with his sexuality. “There have been various stages of my coming out,” he explains. “First, to myself; then, to friends and colleagues, followed by parents; and finally, my extended family.”
.After noticing an innate attraction to men at the age of 16, Kaustav happened to stumble upon the movie Brokeback Mountain, which introduced him to the term gay. “During the last two years of high school, people started buzzing about gay boys in a negative way,” he recalls. “Strikingly, a lot of people involved in this gay-shaming were my shag-buddies!” This kind of self-deprecation and closeted behavior stunned Kaustav, who decided to first come out to his close friends.
.The reaction I got was ‘Dude, nobody is ever going to accept you. Man up, mend your ways. Go on dates with girls. You’ll recover. That’s the reality.’” From religious persecution to social discrimination, he found himself so socially isolated that he ultimately went back into the closet.
.“Around this time, I started a relationship with a guy. We called it a relationship, despite being closeted and wearing our social masks—each having a girlfriend to deceive the world.” This kind of self-preservation and closeted circumstance is common in areas with high religious-based and political-based homophobia, both in America and abroad.
After high school, Kaustav attended college at university, where he found a much more accepting response to his sexuality. “I knew I had no right to play with young girls’ hearts, and I finally found the strength to come out as gay to myself and others, including my parents.”
.What continued was an enslaught of emotional blackmail and attempted conversion therapy, he reflects. His parents took him to psychologists with extreme narrow-minded approaches who used inhumane and homophobic tactics. “I knew what was coming if I raised my voice against such prejudice—the electric shock. I was clever to play along and pretend that I understood it’s a disease, while deep down I would tell myself during those sessions that if loving someone is a sin, a disease, then I would rather have such disease or embrace such sin than be a sterile, narrow-minded conservative. I would pretend that I understood everything, making up stories in a controlled way to deceive them. In the meantime, I kept searching for progressive psychologists through my activist friends.”
.In order to survive, Kaustav resorted to a certain sense of cunningness and scheming attitude to save himself from inevitable danger. “I had to pretend a lot, against my own thoughts and judgements, for a greater good.” Sadly, one of his own cousins was also undergoing psychological treatment around the same time, and was killed by one of these conservative psychologists. “That also played a huge impact on my parents to understand the seriousness and barbarism of those primitive methods.”
.Eventually, he was able to successfully plead about changing his therapist and his parents took him to a more progressive place. What followed was a slow and steady process that eventually led his parents to understand the importance of acceptance and sexuality.
.In India, a gay person is not allowed to marry or adopt children. “The pace of legal acceptance of these terms is also incredibly slow. So, immigrating to another country became an obligation rather than a choice. And in the absence of an explicit anti-gay law, I am not even allowed to gain a refugee status,” Kaustav explains. After facing legal and immigration obstacles, he finally found his way.
.After being uprooted from his home country, his culture, and adapting to a new environment, Kaustav has found his home in Montreal, Canada, as an architect who designs mainstream residential towers. As an architectural historian and theorist, he works on queer spaces, spatial justice, and the philosophy of experiential, inclusive and sustainable spaces.
.“I work in a very inclusive work environment in Canada. My sexuality is considered so normal that it doesn’t even reach that level that needs acceptance. The acceptance is there before it’s needed; however, in the exact same industry of architecture and relevant academia back in India, I have seen a lot of discrimination and encountered homophobia every single day. The way homophobia is celebrated by the right-wing government in India makes my head boil. The ignorance revolving around not accepting love and equality just scares me and keeps me concerned about the future.”
.Despite every struggle Kaustav has endured, he considers himself a happy and lucky man, who continues to embrace internal positivity and happiness.
To all the Quties out there, Kaustav has this to say:
.Take a deep breath. Nothing is lost. Give yourself a hug. Love yourself because your heart itself is the factory for generating love. And when you have love, you have happiness. You have happiness and you can defeat all negatives. And amidst this battle, watch out for every corner, your Prince Charming or Beautiful Princess is always lurking around, craving for the intense amount of love you have to offer.