A 20 year old in Mumbai recently shared what it’s been like to figure out her sexuality, and face first love and heartbreak, in a country where same-sex relationships remain illegal.
Reddit user StarGirl2112 explains that, although a crush on her fourth-grade teacher tipped her off to the fact that she “might be different,” she had no idea that dating other girls was an option—or that India even had an LGBT community—until she was in her early teens.
“The taboo is so real that people just don’t talk about it,” she writes. “Indians will talk about anything but homosexuality. It’s like everyone here is as straight as iron rods.”
India’s prohibition on homosexuality, which falls under Penal Code Section 377, is a remnant of British rule and was actually thrown out by the Delhi High Court in 2009. But, in 2014, the law was reinstated.
Every year LGBT Indians and allies bravely march in Pride parades in many of India’s biggest cities, including Mumbai, to protest the ban. Activists in India and internationally are working to repeal Section 377, but homophobia remains prevalent throughout the country. In addition to risking arrest, LGBT Indians face high rates of discrimination and violence if they are outed.
“If I say screw it and come out as a lesbian to society, I can go to jail for it,” remarks StarGirl2112.
Despite knowing the risks, in 12th grade she fell in love with a friend who reciprocated her feelings. After their first tentative kiss in a movie theater, the pair snuck into the bathroom to avoid being caught making out.
“We hugged so tight, as if we didn’t want to let go,” she writes. “I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine, I kissed her one last time. It was like we were one for a moment… Falling in love with someone is the most natural thing. It was love. Love is love.”
Sadly, the relationship ended when her girlfriend left Mumbai. StarGirl2112 says that although she’s trying to focus on her studies, being single and in the closet is incredibly isolating.
“I see my friends and acquaintances with their boyfriends and girlfriends,” she writes, “and I wish I was straight and could have a ’normal and natural’ type of love life. I wish I wasn’t gay.”
One day, she hopes, she’ll have the courage to come out to her parents. But she fears that still won’t be enough.
“Even if my parents accept me the way I am, how can I expect society to do the same? [Saying] ’I’m gay’ will cost me my career, my image, reputation, freedom—basically my whole life.”
StarGirl2112 ends her post with a plea to fellow Indian redditors, to let her know she’s not the only one feeling this way.
“Please just comment something, tell me your views, anything. I know I am not the only one.”