I came out earlier this year. But the path out of the closet hasn't been rosy.UK-based Nepali blogger Lex Limbu and model Kartik Chettri did a ‘Him & I’ photo shoot to capture two men enjoying the process of dating and being with one another.
It has been just over seven months since I went public with my story about my sexual identity. Many had speculated that I was gay, but in February, I decided that it was time to let the world know who I am and why it’s so important to me.
The process of a closeted gay person opening up to their family, friends, and colleagues is known as ‘coming out’. October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Started by Human Rights Campaign, this day celebrates coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or simply as an ally. One question many people have asked me since I came out is: “How has it been since you’ve gone public?”
“Fascinating” is one word on my mind as I scramble to describe my journey so far. While I expected much of the support to pour from LGBTIQ people, it was actually those who have followed me over the years that seized the ‘coming out’ moment to share their own personal stories. Stories of domestic abuse and violence, separation, lack of understanding and communication in families filled my inbox in the days that followed. Unable to cope with the flow of messages and, more importantly, reading the stories shared in the most vulnerable hour, affected my ability to suddenly turn up and give my all at work.
Being single for so long, there was a part of me that hoped there would be a message from someone who would simply ask for my company. A drink, maybe a date. But some things have yet to happen. Dating and commitment in the gay scene can often be completely different worlds. Profiles of men using gay dating apps in London often read ‘No Asians,’ ‘No Blacks,’ making young gay Asian men feel excluded from the scene. Unfortunately, this exclusion extends right to Nepal, as a number of profiles say ‘No Mongols’ or ‘No Aryans’.
(Photo by Rashik Maharjan)
For me, coming out is a beautiful concept. I’ve spent years waiting to feel complete and that is the saddest fact. There were so many conditions before I felt ready to come out. A Master’s degree? A job? A good family relationship? Stability? Many boxes had to be ticked before I felt ready to share to my loved ones and seek their acceptance. Unfortunately, this experience will be the same for so many Nepali gay men. Having the acceptance of your family or loved ones is great but there will continue to be a desire for acceptance from the very community that does not want Asians or Mongols. Sometimes it is members of your own community that make you feel like you don’t belong.
So the path out of the closet is not rosy. I never expected it to be. Our stories can be powerful to each other and I’ve realised we are not sharing enough. The photos from the ‘Him & I’ shoot have been created to capture two men enjoying the process of dating and being with one another. After all, why should love and intimacy only be seen between a man and a woman? Seeing myself opposite Kartik Chettri, I felt a longing for a relationship that I’ve never had. But I know very well that many things will take time for gay men like me, just like the process of ‘coming out’.