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My boyfriend was gay


My boyfriend was gay

I was 16 and it was my first time at a nightclub with my friends. I met this really good-looking man, who was a lot older — by about almost 18 years — and we became really good friends. I loved spending time with him and when he told me ‘I love you’, I thought I loved him too.

At 16, coming from a small town and a protected Army background, I didn’t know any better. I guess I also liked the idea of falling in love.

I had no idea of relationships either. It didn’t strike me as odd that my boyfriend liked to meet in public where he could be seen with me and would get angry if I bumped into him while he was with his friends. Gradually, my friends began to tell me that he was known to be gay. I fought with them and told them that just because he was different it didn’t mean he was gay. Gradually, the arguments started, and then physical abuse, when I asked him if he was seeing another woman. I had no reason to believe he was keeping a secret. However, one Sunday, I decided to land up at his place, that’s when I saw him with his ‘best friend’.

I lived in denial for the next few months. Then came a phase when I prayed to God to make him ‘normal’. I got severely bulimic… I was a complete mess. There would be times when I would worry that I shouldn’t put on weight or I would see him with his best-friend and come back, eat and throw up.

My close friends and my brother made me realise he was gay. That’s when I finally stopped fighting. There was another phase of physical abuse too and I finally decided that I was young, doing well for myself, had a good family and friends and there was no reason for me to take this.

I moved out of Kolkata and went on to become Miss India and then entered films, and we lost touch. One day, he phoned me and said, “Silly Billy (that’s what he called me), are you still mad at me? Please don’t be, God made me like this.” And, I realised he was right. How did I forgive him the physical abuse? I just did. My life was good, I had met a Swiss diplomat who I was then in love with, and could look beyond those times.

Besides, I then started seeing him as a person. We became the greatest of friends and when he passed away after a bulimia-induced heart attack, he left me his mother’s jewellery that would have ideally gone to a wife. He always said that had he married, it would’ve been to me. He did love me, in his own way.

His end was tragic, he got into wrong company, underwent tremendous depression, was a victim of gaybashing, alcohol and drugs took a toll on his life. He was also in relationships where he was physically abused, something I’ve seen a lot of my gay friends go through. And, they can’t turn to family for help. I found out all this only when he was no more, through friends.

Despite my lows in my first brush with love, I never blamed the gay community as I believe that the kind of person you are has nothing to do with your sexuality.

While he was the man who virtually ruined me when I was young, another man who nurtured me was Probir Kumar De, my first make-up person. Probir da was transgendered, wore a salwar kameez and fought his own battles as he rose from his middle-class roots, braving taunts of ‘hijra’. When I didn’t have money as a student in Kolkata, he would buy me lipsticks. He, along with a friend, entered me for the Femina Miss India contest without my knowing about it. He considered me his daughter.

I had another gay friend, a designer, who was beaten up at a nightclub. My gay friends have always been there for me and there’s nothing I’ve been able to do for them. Recently, when I flew to Bangalore for Feroz Khan’s funeral, I was in a fragile state. My gay friend, who knew exactly how I would be feeling, flew down to Bangalore, without letting me know, met me at the airport to accompany me and give me strength.

I wanted to gift Probir da a car for his birthday but he died three months before that. I always promised myself that I would take up the cause of gay rights when I could and that’s what I’m doing now, despite the hate mail that I receive. Ironically, a lot of the mails I get are from the youth. I want to ask them if being modern means fighting with your parents to be able to go to the nightclub, wear Western clothes, be able to smoke or drink? When it comes to gay rights, why are you still living in the previous century?

For me, gay rights are about human rights. And, I don’t care if people call me gay!

(By Celina Jaitley)

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