Whirlpool of emotions….

(Disclaimer: Emotional post. You might want to keep tissues handy)

In continuation to my last post where I talked about coming out to my parents, here is what followed after.

For simplicity, each day after coming out can be named as PCD (Post-coming-out-Day). Sorry for being nerdy [can’t help it, being a doctor 😉 ]

PCD#1 (first 24 hours)- Extreme level of emotions – stress, anxiety, nervousness, crying, sadness, helplessness. My parents didn’t sleep for the whole night following this. When we first talked over phone after coming out, I could hear them crying, with such heavy voices and tiredness in their voice (they hadn’t slept for 24 hours). I tried to explain to them that this cannot be changed, but I am still the same. I requested them to look at this as a normal thing, rather than a disease. I calmed them down for that day.

PCD#2 – I could hear them not actually crying over the phone, but they admitted to having bouts of anxiety/ nervousness/ stress, with very brief periods of normal life. At least they said they slept for 3-4 hours at night, with frequent waking up due to stress. They were now worried about “had I told them earlier, they could have gotten me some therapy/ counseling to help me”. But after re-iterating that this is not something to change, their questions were more focused on life a gay doctor here. Future prospects of having a “real” family, kids, discrimination, struggles in life etc. (like all very genuine questions any parent would have for their child). I answered all these with patience and in detail. They said they need time to understand everything and I agreed too.

PCD #3 – I got this phone call while at I was at work, because my mother said she was really worried about me and wanted to talk. She said she felt terrible that I didn’t come out to them earlier and had to struggle all these years without any support from them. They felt extremely guilty about not being there for me during my initial years of realizing about my sexuality and were even more concerned about my future – if I will ever have a normal life, or will it be the one full of struggles. Moreover, my mother was scared that me and Nick would never go back to our hometown, to them and might not maintain contact with them, or might not allow them in our home here once we settle. I re-assured them that none of those things are true and talked to them to mitigate their fears to the best of my capability.

PCD#4 – Today, I noticed a fairly normal voice and attitude of my parents over the phone (I was surprised myself). They reported sleeping for around 5 hours at night and waking up less often now. They said they would take time to accept and understand everything. They informed me that they have decided not to tell anything about my sexuality yet in our extended family for a few years, till they have completely come to terms to it. I also talked to my brother and sis-in-law today, who informed me that my parents’ blood pressure has been persistently high since I came out to them – in 150s/100s. I asked my parents to focus on their health too. To this, they said they will be more careful about their health – they agreed to re-start their daily routine of walk, eat at proper time and try to stress out less. They also told me about a religious trip that they had planned for next month – which they will go on and not cancel due to these recent events. We ended the phone call by them saying that they just need some time.

PCD#5 – I think this phone call is the most significant for me (I was crying at the end of this call – I still have teary eyes while writing this). We started off as a normal conversation (as we used to have before). But then my mother got very emotional about being guilty for not being there for me in the past and how much struggle I would have in future and they might not be able to help me. So, this time I took an alternate approach to explain things to them. I asked them to look at the positive aspects of my life (rather than focusing on struggles etc.). I told them how lucky I am to have such supportive parents and family like them (who always supported me in my career choices), to have such amazing life-partner Nick, to have extremely supportive friends & colleagues, and to be professionally sane and stable. I know so many other LGBTQ youth and adults who have had such difficulty childhood, teenage years, coming out experiences and who are still not in a stable job. At times, we forget to think how lucky we are. I always heard the saying “Pause and look back at your life, to see what you have which others might not”. Never did I know that when I actually paused and looked back, I realized how extremely lucky I am (“touchwood”). After explaining this to my parents, my father started talking to me. His exact words were:

You don’t have to think of this [being gay] as a problem or a separate issue in life. Work hard, live your life fully and be successful. We are here for you always, son. If you ever need anything, we are just a phone call away. If you ever wanna come back home with Nick to live with us, you’re welcome. We’ll go to any town or city you want to, and we’ll move with you without asking anything. We will cut off from the social circle that doesn’t support you. We will take care of those people ourselves who won’t be supportive. You’re our child and we won’t leave you ever. Take care!!

I cried when I heard these words. And I have cried multiple times since then (including when I wrote this).

It is extremely heart-breaking to see your parents cry every day and be able to do anything, I had shared my story with other LGBT friends of mine who gave me a lot of support and told me to be patient and give TIME to them. Time is all they need to get through this. And yes, this is so true!

This past week was filled with extremes of emotions, but what kept me going was the support I got from people around me – Nick, my close friends at work, back at home (texting and calling to check on me), my mentors at work (I cannot hide my emotions and they could guess I was stressed out), my brother, sister-in-law and above all, finally but definitely not the least, support from my parents !!!

I feel so relieved now (Phew, finally !! ). I know they still need a lot of time to understand me, my life and LGBT world in general. But I am glad that they are there for me. Isn’t this what family does – to be there for each other.

And as one of good friends recently said, “it gets betters”…. 🙂

Ending this post on a positive note. Will post more soon about my preparations for coming out.

Good night.

Love,

Rhys

 

Coming out on birthday….

(Disclaimer: Perhaps, a long post!!)

As I turned 29 today, I decided to come out to my parents. I came out to my brother and sister-in-law last year. I have been thinking about it for a long time but never found the perfect time to do it. Since my main mode of communication with my parents is FaceTime (different countries and time-zones), I decided to use it as our “Face-to-Face” conversation. But it wasn’t as easy as I thought!!

A day before my birthday, I FaceTimed (FT’ed) my parents, had an hour chit-chat about all random things, but I just could not bring myself to say the words “I am gay”. Those words were going on in my mind the whole time, but I just froze every time I tried to speak up. One opportunity lost.

I FT’ed again the evening – another 30 minute-long conversation but nothing about coming out. By now, I was getting really restless as I had initiated the process but couldn’t take any further steps. It was like I wanted to walk but felt paralyzed and couldn’t move! I could not sleep that whole night.

The following morning, it was my birthday and my mom called me again. We spoke for 15-20 minutes on FaceTime, but I had to leave for work. I said I will call her and my father after work. Later in afternoon, I finally got a chance to FT my parents with my brother and sister-in-law sitting next to them. I mustered the courage somehow to talk to them (or maybe my stress levels were too high that I got the final push from anxiety). I told them I have been meaning to tell them something for a long time but couldn’t get a chance. I told them that I am gay and I have been in a relationship with Nick for the last 7 years. This was followed by a silence from them which felt like an eternity to me…

My mom finally broke the silence and said she had a fair idea about it for the last few years and asked me about my future plans with Nick, wedding, Nick’s family’s reaction etc. She even said to my father – “If this is something we cannot change, we must accept it. If we will find faults in him and won’t accept him, none of the other people around us will”. I was relieved that my mom was supportive (I was also hoping that my mom would be okay with it). But what followed after this was completely opposite, i.e, my father’s reaction.

I told them I care the most about the 4 of them and I would really appreciate their support. To this my father said “if you have decided everything and made all plans, what do you want now? You said you want support from us, but what if 4 of us don’t support you? Will you change your ‘social status’?” At first I could not understand what he meant by ‘social status’. I clarified by asking him if he meant my sexual orientation by ‘social status’, to which he said “yes, the same”. I told him this is not something I can change, that I am born this way and that I would ideally like them to be on my side. He further said “You cannot change society. This society had some rules and the way it has been running all these decades. You are asking us to support you by going against the established societal norms. Moreover, what if we don’t support you, what kind of relationship do you expect from us – will it be just acknowledging each other’s existence and that’s it?” I was obviously taken aback since I didn’t know to exactly respond to him (despite knowing that this is what he would have said). I re-iterated that ideally I would like us to have a usual family relation as we had before.

I went on explaining to him that this might be all new to him; they can take their time; do their own research and I would be happy to answer any of their questions and talk whenever they like. His next response made me extremely emotional (but I didn’t show any emotions at all throughout this whole video call). He said “What research can we do now? We will just look back on our parenting and figure out retrospectively what went wrong on our part.” At this point, my brother and sis-in-law also spoke up saying that it has nothing to do with the parenting and that the more they relate it with parenting, harder it will be for them to understand this. I even tried to explain to them that this is a natural, pre-decided biologic phenomenon and by mistake I used the word “genetics”. So, he said “genes are from us. That means it is our fault eventually”. We (me, my brother and sis-in-law) tried explaining more to him but by now, he was already in huge shock to listen to anything anymore. He said it was late night for them. I agreed and asked them to take some rest, sleep and call me later.

I cried like a baby right after hanging up! Not because of what he said, but because it was the most emotionally-overwhelming situation I have ever faced. I had talked to Nick, my closest friends and my brother after this, who were hugely supportive. I cannot imagine what would have I done without these extremely supportive people in my life!

I really appreciated my mother’s positive response. I hope my father accepts me as I am. I agree this is the first step towards acceptance by my parents and that this will take its own time. I just have to be persistent. It will be tough, but I am sure worth it in the end.

I guess this was one of the most eventful birthdays ever for me, where I gave myself such an unusual gift…

Happy birthday to me, once again!

Love,

Rhys

 

Coming out….. Again ! 

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Just a few hours ago, I FaceTimed my brother and his fiancé. I had texted both of them around 2 weeks ago that I wanted to talk to both of them together and was wondering if they could call me next when they are together. I guess they both knew it was coming and had fair idea what I wanted to talk to them about, but they didn’t want to say it.  

So today morning, my would-be sister-in-law texted me she will be meeting my brother for dinner and she will call me when they get a chance. I was busy this whole morning packing for my work trip ti Florida. So I didn’t have time to fell the nervousness or even prepare as to what I was about to say to them. I was thinking about it for a long time and knew that I will be straight forward and direct. So it was literally like ripping the bandaid off in one go.

At around 12.00 noon, I got a video call request from her. I picked up the call and we discussed a bit about their wedding preparations and random topics for first 5 minutes. Then she asked – what’s new? Since I had decided that I will be quick and straight to the point, I came to both of them by saying these lines in one breath – “ I guess you both know what I am about to tell you, but I just want to make it short and quick since we don’t have much time, as I will be reaching the airport soon. I am gay and I have a boyfriend of 7 years! And (to my brother’s fiancé) your brother knows because I came out to him in January when we met for the first time.”

I did it. Literally coming out to my brother and his fiancé in uber on my way to the airport. They both said – okay, fine. Cool. Your Instagram hashtags were very obvious. Apparently, they both had known for a while and even discussed about it but didn’t want to ask me directly. Both of them had a very casual reaction – “Okay. Now what? Are you telling mom and dad? When are gonna tie the know with him?” Those were the first questions I had from them. I guess I wasn’t expecting a very favorable reaction, but people are always unpredictable; and they sure did surprise me!! I reached airport and they had to go as well, so we ended our call but I was so happy and relieved that it went well. Funnily enough, they were more shocked at the fact that I had came out to my brother’s fiancé’s brother when I met him in January this year (for the very first time), rather than my sexual orientation. Haha!

A little background about this story- my brother accidentally found out that I am gay back in 2009 when I was in first hear of med school, but back then he had a very homophobic reaction, that he wanted to out me to our parents (he eventually didn’t, thankfully) and also left the home for around 2 months ro stay away from me and stayed in the dorm for that time. Since then, we never talked about it but I often faced (directly and indirectly) homophobic comments and reactions from him in the past 9 years, which always made me nervous that he might not accept me as who I am. But I guess he changed, maybe it was the positive effect from his fiancé, or maybe he just wanted to support me and realized that I am more than just my sexual orientation.

I guess now I can officially say that I am out to my brother, his fiancé and her brother. So I have some family support. Yayeee!! First step (and a huge one) towards coming out to the family. Coming out is always a scary thing, especially coming from a conservative family when you have faced such backlash in the past when you are accidentally outed.

I am glad that I can now safely go home after thanksgiving for vacation and know that there is some support among my family. 

– From the rainbow sheep of the family (officially now) 🌈💕

Opening up

Rhys and I decided to try an open relationship. And boy did we face questions! Mostly from within ourselves, a few from people around us. So let me answer those questions first – No, we weren’t unhappy / bored in the relationship. Yes, we are still very much in love. No, we do not consider it cheating/infidelity since it is a mutually agreed decision.

We have always valued open and honest communication in our relationship. We talk freely and frankly with each other and verbalize our thoughts and wishes without judgement. This allowed us to grow as a couple over the years.

Recently, we started discussing what are the boundaries of our relationship. In the course of that discussion, we came to understand that we don’t necessarily agree to the notion of fidelity being about sexual or physical intimacy. What is important is the feeling of belonging to each other, feeling at home in each other’s company. And that, we decided, should be what defines us.

Sex and sexual intimacy has been a subject of many a discussion for us over the years. We both are sex positive people and have explore our mutual kinks and fetishes, fulfilling sexual fantasizes as they arise. Now, we decided to explore down the path further by opening up our relationship to allow for sexual relations with others in all its forms – NSA hookups, FWB and any other undefined versions of it that may catch our fancy. The only caveat – to always be safe – physically, psychologically and sexually.

To that end, I chose to always inform Rhys about the details of my meetings – locations, timing and arrange a call if he should not hear from me in couple of hours. While I was initially apprehensive that it might be awkward, it really has not been. Here, I must admit I underestimated how progressive Rhys has become on the subject. Made me fall in love with him all the more with how warmly he embraced the concept without trepidation or ambiguous moral hang ups.

Of course, sexual health is a top priority for both of us. We are physicians in training after all. So we always ALWAYS use condoms and get tested for STI regularly. I also decided to start taking PrEP.

Excited to see where this experiment leads us. For now, its adios. We do hope to hear from all of you what are your thoughts about sexual boundaries of a relationship and sex positivity in general.

Checking in

A lot has happened. A lot has changed. And yet much is still the same.

Yes, both Rhys and I moved to USA to pursue both our dream of being better physicians and being together. We are currently living, breathing and thriving in the frigid free air of the east coast. We live about an hour apart, separated by the Hudson, connected by the multitude of bridges and a mutual longing for shared silences.

Quietly celebrated our sixth anniversary, we continue with this beautiful relationship. As we grown as individuals and as a couple, we are questioning, exploring and pushing the boundaries of the social experiment of a relationship. So in coming posts, you may see us explore more varied topics – such as sex positivity, fidelity, polyamory, love and lust – alongside our more regular themes of the daily humdrum of a same -sex relationship. A disclaimer is warranted perhaps – neither of us are experts in social sciences and are musings will be just that, musings of two people going through life, jotting down random thoughts in hopes of telling a coherent story of a life lead.

So, this post is just me checking in to say hello to anyone who is still reading. Adios for now, will return when the urge to write takes over once more.

 

 

Why is this happening ???

It’s been 15 days since I came back from US. Came back to a place I call home, to my family and friends. Still I cannot feel the void of loneliness going away. A void that started building up inside me when I was living in the States and that has grown so much in the last few months that now it seems like a part of me.

I went to US in September 2015 for my research work. With Nick still in his hometown, it became long distance for us again. To add to this, I went to a pretty small town in US for work, where my social life was pretty much limited. To certain extent may be I was responsible for this isolation. I was a bit apprehensive in meeting new people off the social apps like Grindr or Tinder, and my work place didn’t have like minded people for me to hang out with. But I soon found a cure to this. I started cooking, and later baking. I used to cook local cuisine of my hometown, American desserts, various egg recipes (most interesting being a Middle Eastern dish called Shakshuka).

By the end of my stay in the States, I started baking (for the first time in my life), and I made cakes and cookies. I also made a chocolate fudge cake for Nick when we planned to meet in Chicago for a weekend, which he liked very much (I felt so good and proud when he praised my cake.. Haha ! ).

So coming back to the void, it started getting bigger and bigger for no good reason. But I could still manage it, despite being all alone there by going out all by myself, or by cooking, or by painting. But somehow, since I have returned I haven’t been able to tackle this now-mammoth-sized void..!!!!

Nick is very busy working in States, so we hardly get the time to talk (all thanks to this time difference between east and west !!). Moreover, my so-called social circle comprising of friends is not so available. Most of them are busy with work, and rest are not in town. All this is simply aggravating my feelings of loneliness and that void. I had never thought I would feel so lonely even after coming home, and this plain fact is depressing in itself.

To counter all this, I have joined a few social apps like Tinder to find friends. To my respite, I could at least find a couple of nice people to hang out with, even though I still feel a bit awkward to open myself up to them (I have never met anyone off these social apps, so my apprehensive is quite obvious, isn’t it !! ). Even Nick supports my idea of being on such apps to find a few friends and spend sometime with them. I have also joined a gym recently to keep myself busy, but even that isn’t helping very much. I think I should start painting now, may be that will help me. It has always helped me. So it’s my last hope now.

But why is this happening to me !!!!! I already had my own share of living alone, without a significant social life in the last 6 months. And now I am home, at the place where I have spent a quarter of my life and made so many friends. And still after coming home, all I am doing  is sleeping all through the day and night too…

I am a firm believer of the phrase that “everything happens for a reason”. I do understand the reason for my loneliness in US. It made me strong, and I really grew as a person.

But what’s the reason for this loneliness after returning home……

Anniversary

As the new year started, so did a new chapter in our lives. This is the fifth year that Rhys and I are together as a couple and what a gorgeous time it has been.

When viewed through my eyes, the world has changed in these past four years. So much so, that I can’t seem to remember what it was like before I met Rhys. Every moment of this time is so special that I would not change it for the world. We have both grown up over the years into different people than the ones who started dating all those years ago. And time only brought us closer together, entwining our lives and times into this beautiful pattern that our lives have become.

The better part of last year, we had to spend apart. And no amount of texts or calls would fill the gap that the thousand miles created. So it was with great difficulty that we planned to be together for a weekend and celebrate our anniversary. And that is what we did.

One freezing Friday morning, I landed in Chicago and into melted into Rhys arms. And my first taste of America ? A chocolate fudge cake he had baked for me. Nothing could have made our reunion sweeter. And thus began our weekend in Chicago.

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