Mala believes that her acceptance of who he was meant a lot for her son, Shiva.

If I dont support my child neither will society says this Hyderabad mother of gay sonImage for representation
news LGBTQ Monday, January 23, 2017 - 19:11

“My son was 19 years old when he came up to me and told me that he is gay,” recalls Mala, a 53-year old Hyderabad-based social worker, while speaking to The News Minute.

Now a 29-year old doctor, Shiva recently shifted to the U.S. to pursue his PhD.  

“Ours is not the usual mother-son relationship at all. We are more of friends. We have always been. I still remember when he was in class 10, he used to say, ‘Mom, look at that boy….so beautiful….look at his eyes and hair’. I used to ask him whether he did not find girls attractive. We now often laugh about it,” she chuckles.

It was in 2006 that Shiva first told his mother about his attraction towards men. She was confused. After calmly listening to whatever Shiva had to say, she decided to go for counselling.

But before that, she launched into a thorough reading up of what LGBTQ was all about, which made her realise that her son is very much a member of that community.

“I would never want to force him into anything….and why should I? It is not a disease or disability. I told him, it doesn’t matter, and that we are with him. He was shocked that I did not cry or get angry,” Mala smiles.

While Mala does accept and support her son, she chooses not to talk about it to her relatives.

“I don’t expect them to understand. As Shiva is now 29, they keep asking when he will get married. I have clearly told them that he will not. They do know that he is gay, but prefer not to speak about it,” she says.

“When parents accept and support them, they become confident and feel safe. We conduct various counselling programmes for parents along with their children. We have seen plenty of cases of depression due to pressure from both society and family,” remarks Krishna Kumar, a counsellor who is involved with the community for the past several years.

Mala believes that her acceptance of who he was meant a lot for Shiva: “If I don’t support my own child, then how can I expect society to treat him fairly?”

She also believes that it was easier for her to accept the reality, because Shiva opened up at a very young age.

“The problem arises when children hide such an important fact. It was comparatively easy for me because I then never had to worry about getting my son married. Usually when children broach this subject with their parents, it becomes hard for the latter as they must have already started planning for their kids’ marriage,” she points out.

She speaks of a case where a mother was forcing her gay son to get married, which she warns would end up spoiling so many lives:

“Just to please society, how could anyone want to spoil the lives of their children? My son is my friend. He is a doctor. He has introduced me to a lot of intellectual discourses. All he ever asked from me is my support.”

Mala has been an active part of the queer community in Hyderabad, and extends special support to those who struggle to convince their parents.

“Mala Ma’am is like a mother figure to me. I asked my mother to meet her so that she could better comprehend my situation, but my mom is stubborn. She refuses to meet anybody from the community,” says Madhav.

It was in July last year that Madhav -a member of the LGBT community- decided to finally open up to his mother about his boyfriend. He sure was tensed.

The dialogue went thus:

“Mom, you remember my friend Abhi. I introduced him to you a few months ago. I like him.”

“I like him too, he is a nice kid,” his mom replied.

Madhav realised his mother had not understood the sub-text.

He tiptoed a little further. “I really love him, Mom.”

“What do you mean love him…you want to get married or what?” she mocked.

Madhav took some time to gather courage…and finally managed to whisper…

“It’s not legal here, but I surely want to.”

End of conversation. A floodgate of tears opens.

Since then Madhav has been trying in vain to convince her. He longs for support and acceptance by his parents.

“I saw my mom cry every day for nearly a month. After that, she just stopped talking about it. But every morning for the past six months, I have been greeted by the sight of her red swollen eyes. It is horrible,” shudders Madhav.

Though earlier Madhav did surreptitiously keep dropping hints about his sexual orientation to his parents, it was only last year that he mustered enough courage to speak up.

“I keep talking about this. I can see my father take baby steps towards a grudging acceptance. We sometimes do talk, but my mom adamantly refuses to believe. I moved out, as I could no longer bear the constant arguments and fights at home,” he says.

He does realise that the older generations need time to assimilate this changing social reality of the times, but he wishes his parents would cope better.  

Counsellor Krishna Kumar attributes this warped mentality to India being a conservative country on the whole.

“People are used to a certain social code. If someone does not fit the criteria, people do not see them as part of the society. The LGBTQ community hence struggle to carve out their own niche in the Indian psyche. The hardest part is to garner acceptance and support from parents and own family,” he opines.