He waltzes around the dance floor, moving smoothly, impressing his audience with his performance. When he’s not lighting up a room with his smile, Urzaan can be found staring at a face, using his brush to add colour, then suffusing it and then adding on thick, black eyeliner. A successful makeup artist, a great conversationalist and a fabulous dancer, Urzaan Patel is a lot of things. Unfortunately, the one label that sticks the longest and is the most prominent, is his sexual orientation and he often feels reduced to just that. An proud gay man, Urzaan’s story is that of struggle, love, hope and enduring optimism. Sometimes, all you need is a positive attitude and the confidence to melt hearts and change the course of life. And so, as the Pride month rolls in, we are thrilled to celebrate some of these coming out stories from the LGBTQ community with you, because now more than ever, they need to be heard.
Article by Sadhika Sehgal | TheHauterFly
For the longest time, India and Indians turned a blind eye to the very existence of the LGBTQ+ community, brushing the glaring existence of it under the carpet, like we do with many other issues. We should be called ostriches, we do it so often. And it isn’t just the sexual orientation that niggles at people, it’s what other people will think, what they will say when they find out – society forces so many people into the closet, that coming out is precarious time, one that can really shake up anyone.
It wasn’t until September of 2018 that being gay or anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum wasn’t a crime.
And while we can certainly talk about it, we spoke to people who are actually living this truth every day. Urzaan Patel is one of those people and he spoke to Hauterfly about coming out.
Finding my sexuality
“At that young an age, you don’t even know what the word ‘gay’ means. At least I did not, but it was then when I knew that I am attracted to boys and from then on, it was pretty clear,” said Urzaan Patel as he spoke about the time when he was 17 years old and realised that there was something different about him. While boys around him talked about the girls, and rummaged through magazines with women in them with lustful glee, he didn’t see the reason for the excitement. He knew early on that he was not your ‘straight’ boy, though he didn’t even know the word yet. He was a boy who liked boys, and somewhere deep down, he knew that life was about to get a tad bit complicated.
Also Read : This Indian-American Gay Couple Had A Big Fat Indian Wedding. One Groom’s Father Talked About How He Was A Homophobe And His Speech Is Beautiful
Coming out to my parents
Recalling the day he came out to his parents, or in his words as, ‘they came to me, rather than me coming out to them’, Urzaan narrated, “I remember being 19 years old and talking to a friend on the phone in my room, when my father accidentally happened to eavesdrop our conversation. I was discussing a boy whom I had a crush on, and to say the least, I was pretty descriptive. Guessing by the way I was talking about him, my dad just knew. Later that day, he confronted me and asked me point blank if I was gay, and I remember summing up all the courage I had in me to say that simple yes, which ultimately set me free.”
His father’s reaction was like any typical Indian Parsi father. Urzaan said. “He was upset in the beginning, he didn’t understand. He thought that I was just going through a phase, because I was just 19 years old at that time. There were times when he recommended I got for therapy to a psychiatrist, and for his sake, I did go too. But a few sessions with him and I only found myself becoming more confident of the person I was, and realised if anyone needed help in understanding, it was my parents.”
He further shared that, “As time went by, they finally came around to the idea that their son was gay. I remember when my father hugged me and assured me that he loved me the same, and that I will always be their son, it was then I think that I finally became confident of myself, with it being my biggest relief till date.”
Struggles along the way
“You know one of the biggest struggles that I or anyone like me ever faces is when we’re only remembered for who we are attracted to. There were times when I would only be remembered as ‘Urzaan and gay’, instead of Urzaan and a makeup artist. So turning that around, to let people know that I am more than who I fall in love with was the most difficult and frustrating part.”
As Urzaan spoke of the struggles that anyone who belongs to the LGBTQ community would relate to, he touched base upon the prevalent yet largely misunderstood concept of femininity. Gay men are often ridiculed for being feminine and it’s a stereotype that has been blown out of proportion. It’s caught up with him as well. He spoke about how people would always find him a bit too feminine for a guy. He shared, “I don’t know if it was the way I would dress up or talk, or even my profession, but people always thought I was too lady-like.”
“Even in this community, there is a lot of discrimination. There are different kinds of gays, and somehow they all have the perception that the ones who talk and walk with too much femininity must be kept aside. Which, according to me is utter BS. For me, femininity is embracing who you really are and I for one am truly proud of myself,” he concluded while making a point that more of us need to acquaint ourselves with.
Going through life as confidently as ever, Urzaan has navigated through his sexual identity and the challenges that came with it, with utmost sass and sensibility and at present, he finds himself not just content but hopeful that the world will be a better place in the future. He doesn’t want to be a cliche, but he does have a girl best friend – one who stood by him like a pillar during these times – Twinkle Gupta. Urzaan shared how sometimes all you need is one friend to get you through anything in life and that has been her. Of course, there are days when people still look at him with skepticism and confusion, but it is on those days, he reminds himself of just how much he needs to be himself.
Talking about an advice he would love to pass on to his younger and closeted self, Urzaan said, “You don’t need to be afraid of anything, because unlike what people say, the world is not as scary as it is being made to look. There is nothing wrong with you, or the world, but at the same time you need to understand what kind of people you’re going to be dealing with in the future and act accordingly.” Guess, that is one piece of advice, that regardless of who you are, is sure come in handy and take you a long long way.
UNCLOSETED is Hauterfly’s stab at covering the coming out stories of people from the LGBTQ+ community. If you’ve a story you want to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.