Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters Courtesy LoveMatters.info
Twenty three-year-old hospitality executive Nagesh Kumar from Mumbai talks of his dilemma over whether he's gay, straight or bisexual.
I don't know if I'm gay or straight or bisexual.
The question has been haunting me for a while now. I've ended up hating the very thought of sex, so much that I now practice abstinence. I've been with both men and women. I do enjoy sex with both, but I think I prefer having sex with men -- I'm not sure.
I've been curious to know if I'm gay, but it's been rather disappointing. I've tried meeting gay men on Internet forums. The guys in these chat rooms aren't looking for relationships, they're just looking for sex.
Don't get me wrong, I have made great friends through these sites, but the relationship always has to end because sex is the only thing on their minds.
This has made me averse to the whole gay scene here. But this is the only way I can get access to gay men. There's no other place I can meet them. Now, finally I've given up. I find it easier to avoid dating and meeting men.
Name changed to protect privacy.
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Part of the reason it's difficult for me to meet gay people in my everyday life is because nobody is so open about it. Look at me, I'm not open about it. I have spoken to a few friends about my doubts, and they have been very supportive, but some of them have cautioned me against hurting my parents' sensibilities.
Of course, I too am scared of how my parents and family would react if they knew I was struggling with my sexuality. I'm 23 now and my mom surely dreams of me getting married to a woman and becoming a father one day.
But I don't want to ruin someone else's life. What if I am not going to be happy with a woman? What if I am not bisexual and am actually gay? Nobody's going to be happy in that situation.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
Photographs: Fibonacci, based on Switchercat's PD work/Wikimedia Commons
It's been really exhausting for me to remain confused. It always plays at the back of my mind -- while I'm working, while I'm spending time with my family and friends etc. I've noticed that it affects my performance at work and in social relationships.
You might think I am trying to find excuses for poor performance, but I'm really not. It's been bogging me down quite a lot and I know I don't want to continue living like this. But I don't know what to do about it.
I know I should seek help, but I don't have time for it. I work six days a week for ten hours a day. Where am I going to find time to meet a counsellor? No matter how urgent the need is to sort this out, I don't think it's the right time now.
Photographs: Elizabeth Ann Colette on Flickr/Wikimedia Commons
And even if I do sort things out and turn out to be either gay or bisexual, it's only going to be uphill from there. Am I going to come out of the closet, or am I going to live my life being quiet and never saying a word, because I'm scared I would hurt people's sentiments or be judged?
It's a grave dilemma, and that's why I prefer not thinking about it. Who would want to think about sex if it's so stressful? I've started finding out what it's like to abstain from sexual behaviour.
I've even registered on a few asexuality forums and I find it relieving that there are people who don't give sex any importance. And I am now trying to be comfortable with this way of life.