Celebrating 4 years of togetherness of our favourite couple!Avichal Singh
Before we get to the couple goals, let’s get to know the guys a little better in their own words.
Suresh Ramdas (SR)is tall, dark and handsome.He is bald with an infectious smile and a voice that’s soothing yet loud. Suresh, whose roots are from Tamil Nadu, was born in Mumbai and raised in various parts of Karnataka like Mysore and Manipal. Now he is residing in Bengaluru since 2003. A proud 38 years young guy who works in the corporate sector. His day job is as a global facilitator while in his gay job he leads the LGBTQ Chapter and is part of the Diversity & Inclusion team at his workplace. Also does a bit of community work for the LGBTQ people and PLHIV.
Soham Sengupta (SS) can’t think of a cheesy opening sentence like Suresh.LOL
He hails from Kolkata & finished his academics/ Engineering from there before landing in Bangalore with a corporate job in 2016. He is 28, a senior IT consultant in a German multinational organization and is extremely passionate about music, painting & fitness besides his day job. He also enjoys reading & cooking during leisure.
Q.1) How did you come out? To yourself and then to the people around you? How did they react?
SR – From a very young age, I knew I was a special kid compared to others. Because I was different from the regular boys and girls regarding the expectations, like mannerisms and behavior, I always found myself getting bullied. To top it off, I was bullied for my skin color as well. So, it was quite a crazy time during school. Survived that and during college is when I got to know myself a little better. I had this attraction towards boys right from young age, but I never knew why. I didn’t get the same feelings as the boys in my school or college had towards girls. They used to talk about them in a sexual way, while I was thinking about them as only friends. But I thought about some of the guys in a sexual way. I didn’t talk about my feelings with anyone else as I didn’t trust anyone. With internet access in college, I found other guys like me and got to know we have a name, “homosexual” & ”gay”. Before that during my bullying days, I was called chakka, ombathu, girly boy, hijra, kala, kala kaluta. During one of the days, while I was walking back to my hostel room, I just said that out loud to myself, “I am gay”. I felt relieved and happy for a change. Though I knew the after-effects of it, I was ready to fight it out like I have always done.
I came out to my college friends, colleagues who are now family. Initially, they were shocked, surprised and disappointed, but as time went, they understood and accepted me whole heartedly.
There was also this boldness in me about not being too affected by people if they didn’t accept me. I always consoled myself saying, “It was their choice and their loss for not having me in their life, as I’m fabulous.” That came from my childhood, when I promised myself, I will not take my life and fight everything out that comes my way. But also, deep down I was scared to lose people and was a people pleaser.
SS – Being born to working parents (& the only child), I was given ample liberty and discipline at the same time due to which I was good in academics & also cultivated my passion in different form of arts. As a growing boy, I used to share almost everything of my life with my mom, but one; My inclination towards the fellow boys in school, something which I realized at a very early age, but was heavily confused about & feared to be exposed. Then slowly, I started getting reciprocated by some of them, mostly at physical level, but that was kinda reassuring that I’m no odd fish. During adolescence & high school, I explored my sexuality even more & was clear to myself regarding my identity. But I could never muster the courage to take it up with my parents as I could see my then ‘lovers’ preferred to keep the affair hushed & most of them were dating girls at the same time. Not knowing the difference between gays & bisexuals back then, this used to upset me a lot.
Later through internet, I educated myself about the LGBTQ spectrum, its background & also learnt about a few iconic personalities from the community. But the more I came in touch with people through social media or through common friends, the more I realized that the majority seeks for just physical intimacy, not a sustained relationship which I was craving for. During my early engineering days, I met someone over Facebook & we both grew fond of each other. Even though from my hometown, he was studying in Delhi & used to visit quarterly once. As a romantic teenager, I was too naive to think our relationship as ‘long distance’ & was totally lovestruck for first two years. Then the reality kicked in & I realized that I was being cheated on for quite sometime. Heartbroken, yet due to my uncompromising self respect, I firmly decided to part ways & that added to the mess.
He couldn’t handle the break up, exposed me to my parents in a negative manner & did a couple of miserable things which projected my family in a low light. This totally shook their ground, specially my mom who always considered him to be a close friend of mine. I was devastated, but couldn’t afford to break down as my campus placement was ensuing. Despite the great turmoil in family (for almost 3 months my mom was not on talking terms with me), things took a turn for the better when I got placed in a job & had to move to Pune. Their concern shifted to my wellbeing in an unknown city.
However, the mess he created made it difficult for me to bring the topic before my parents once again as they went into denial since then. Whenever I used to visit home, there was this inevitable conversation around my marriage as my parents were getting approached by their friends & colleagues. I wanted to burst the bubble but was worried about the consequence, especially after the phase that my parents went through due to my ex.
But by 2018, I really grew sick of this duality & decided to give no more false hope to them. Around that time, heavy speculation was going on whether section 377 will be brought down or not & The Times of India wanted to do an article on it, with faces & voices from the community. When they approached me, it seemed like the vent I was looking for all this while, to voice my inner self. I gave the interview & later at the historic judgement on 6th September 2018 by the Supreme Court of India that decriminalized section 377 for good, TOI did a national coverage of it with a picture of mine waving the pride flag!
Quite evidently, my parents read it sitting in Kolkata, my mom called me & told ‘You can certainly support the cause, but why such a strong media presence?’ I was edgy inside but still in an unflinching tone I told her ‘Maa, I’m not merely showing my support, rather celebrating myself. This is what I am & always was!’
There was a piercing silence for a minute, then she disconnected the call saying she has to leave for work. I couldn’t concentrate on anything the entire day, with myriad thoughts & apprehensions racing in my head. Then I called her again in the night. She deliberately avoided the topic initially & acted as if it was never discussed. I had to insist & said ‘We were discussing something in the morning’. For the next few minutes there were trails of arguments, reasoning/counter-reasoning & I broke down at a point saying ‘I can’t live this life of a lie anymore, please accept me the way I am’. My mom stopped for a while, then said in a grim tone – ‘You are our only son, until you do anything wrong or cause any harm to others, no matter in what form or shape you come to us, we will accept & love you. But don’t expect the same acceptance from us for a 3rd person anymore ‘.That’s the moment I can never forget in life as I realized that even though my parents were in denial, they feared that I might suffer again by loving someone like last time. Later when I visited home the next month, we had an honest face to face discussion for the first time regarding my sexuality. Obviously they were upset but agreed on the fact that I shouldn’t marry a girl. Also my mom dropped a few truth-bombs to my surprise, telling me about all my school day affairs which I never knew she was aware of ! They always knew my truth & also the fact that they can’t alter it, hence they had chosen so far to brush it under the carpet & never talked about it!
Q.2) When, where and how did you guys meet? Any special details you remember from the day? (Any one of you can answer this and the other one can add some details maybe for the next few questions)
SS – My job got me landed in Bangalore in 2016. All this while, I was never there on any of the dating apps (Facebook was enough to get me hooked 😜) but kept hearing from friends that there are multiple profiles active in different cities — using my pictures! I was amused & curious at the same time, so finally downloaded a lesser known gay dating app in my phone called ‘scruff’, just to check how exactly it works. Within few days I was tired of direct/blunt approaches & when I was just about to uninstall, someone pinged me. 10 years elder to me, his way of conversation was different from others which I felt good about. After a few days, we decided on meeting in person over coffee & went for a stroll. Now that walk continued for 3 hours while we talked our hearts out & I came back home with a happy smile. We started seeing each other often, but also my rational self was warning me not to indulge & grow any feelings.
I told him about my past & that I’m not mentally seasoned to see someone again. He was warm & understanding enough to respect that and asked me to take my time. After 3 months of dating, I finally realized that I’m in love again 🙂
From then, my journey with Suresh started and our differences brought us closer. We always try to inspire each other & thereby bring out the better version. In terms of maturity, I had always been further than guys of my age, so that way our age difference has worked in our favour! The only issue at that point of time was he being out & proud, whereas I had to restrict my display of affection on social media a bit so that my parents don’t get affected!
Q.3) How did you take it forward? How long did you date until you made it official?
SS– During our initial days of dating, I made it clear to him regarding my past relationship & how that gave me major trust issues. But in course of time, his caring nature & genuineness changed my restrictions & made me think that I can’t keep depriving my heart of the love it deserves because of one heartbreak. After 3 months of dating, we decided to give it a name & he announced it on social media 😉
Q.4) One thing you love and one thing you hate about your partner?
SR – I love the way he is caring, affectionate, loving, passionate & practical. Hate is a very strong word. I don’t hate anyone. I do get annoyed when he does not reciprocate my romance or passion and gets too practical. I am sure after he reads this, we will have a conversation. Hahahahahahaha
SS – His personality & energy is something that I always look upto & am ecstatic about. The fact that he gets easily demotivated/distracted annoys me at times, but he is working to improve it.
Q.5) What are your views on open relationships, marriage and monogamy?
SS & SR– To each their own. Be it about open relationships, marriages, closed relationships, monogamy, polygamy and various other types of relationships that are there. It’s a decision that the people who are in that relationship, should define.
Who are we to say what’s right or wrong? If that works for them then good for them & who are we to judge? We, especially the queer people and many of the straight people are trying to break the stereotypes, move away from the boxes that the society has created for everyone around relationships. We also believe, for any kind of relationship to sustain or go all the way is clear communication, being honest, giving space for people to grow and supporting each other in moving forward.
Q.6) What are the major challenges you faced back then and continue to face now?
SS – I have been fortunate to have support & love from family / friends for my identity. My parents have come to terms with my sexuality & are on their way to complete acceptance. I am delighted to see this journey of theirs, how they tried to prioritize my happiness over societal remarks. Many of my direct relatives too accepted me & take pride in me for unapologetically being myself, which was reassuring for my parents also. Lastly, my close friends are immensely supportive & strong allies.
Q.7) Have you thought about your future? Moving in, marriage or having children?
SR & SS– Future plan is to move in together for now. Marriage is not yet legal in India. We shall cross that bridge when we reach there. Having children, we already have one furry daughter. Kids is something that we haven’t thought about as such.
Q.8) Some people have spoken about having trouble finding love in recent times? Why do you think that is, is there something wrong with the community?
SR – I don’t think there is anything wrong with the LGBTQ Community. By saying something is wrong we’re putting them down or sending them back to the closet.
I think many queer people are figuring themselves out after years of being in the closet by hiding their true self or manipulating or lying to cover up their sexuality. Also during the time they spent in the closet, they have been loathing or hating or have been pissed at themselves for being who they are. We should not forget the big influence that heterosexual relationships have in our lives too.
We all are looking for a partner who is confident, loving, caring and has everything that we lack. But we forget to love, appreciate and be confident about ourselves. Like RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”. We are looking for someone who can fill in that love that’s missing within us. I strongly believe that it will not last.
One should find/look for a partner to motivate, support one another, love one another more and help each other grow to achieve each other’s dreams. Unlike most of the heterosexual couples where the girl lets go of their dreams, passion and choices for her husband.
SS– One thing about our generation I feel is that most of us crave for validation & prioritize people’s judgement over everything else. Do things you’re passionate about, create for yourself, not for mere validation. Also, we should learn to take the onus of our own happiness, putting that responsibility on others & then complaining when it’s not met is rather selfish. Partners should be happy from within first & then share that happiness with each other to make the relationship grow. And stop looking out for a partner with a bucket-list which mostly has your own qualities: You need a partner who can complement you, not a twin brother / sister with identical features!
Q.10) What is a message you would like to give to the single gay men looking for love and to couples facing difficulties?
SR & SS – To all you single folks, don’t seek a relationship just to fill the void that you have. Look for someone who motivates you, supports you, accepts your good, bad and ugly side and loves you for that, more importantly wants to see you grow as a human being. This means that you should also reciprocate! Relationship is not navigation, it’s communication & hence bi-directional.
Don’t have too many choices when looking for a partner. Look at core values that match & if both of you are on the same page in terms of compatibility.
For the ones who are in a relationship, it will always seem like some other person is better than your partner as time goes by. But think about the compatibility, love, fondness, passion, respect and understanding that you have for each other. If you feel that the spark is missing, find a way to re-ignite that spark among each other if you both have the common goal of growing together. When people are in a relationship, it’s like having dal-rice every-day and it can get monotonous at times. Now instead of going out and eating, why not make different dishes at home to spice up your food menu. Or if both of you agree, then go out and eat food. But have clarity, both of you deserve honesty from each other.
Another thing the ones who are in a relationship should know is that the person that you fell in love with, will change as time goes by, like yourself. Change is the only constant. Expecting them to remain the same as day one is not practical or logical. Successful relationships are the ones that embrace the changes & evolve to make us a better couple. Lastly, be honest about your feelings, thoughts, ideas with each other. Communicate with each other and not to your friends about one another. You’ll know your partner well and not your friends. So, take inputs but you’ll decide what needs to be done. Because not everyone will have your best interests at heart.