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Hope, faith, and coming out

Nupur Gokhale

Talking about your sexual orientation can be hard.

If you talk about coming out, it may be even more difficult for people you love to adjust to the change.

I want to preface my post with this: I am by no means a refugee. I have not borne the hardships of displacement, war, or natural disaster. I have come to America as a graduate student and now work at a media agency. I am fully aware of the privileged position I occupy in society. The anecdote I am going to recount is about coming out and the search for meaning, as a brown queer immigrant in America.

In February 2017, I came back to the United States after a 3-week-long stay in India. My queerness had been bubbling up for the entire year before this period.

On this trip, I went through the process of coming out to my parents.

Through wonderful chance, I also ended up meeting the woman I would fall in love with.

When I came back after this tumultuous trip, to my regular job and my regular life, I became severely depressed. The thoughts that would run through my head were akin to the following: What am I doing here with my life if I don’t even remotely enjoy what I’m doing? How am I doing anything worthwhile? I’m not even contributing to society here or back in India in any meaningful way. What’s the point of staying here when my family and loved ones are back in India? What’s the point of being here if the woman that I love is in India and we can’t be together? What’s the point if we don’t even try? What’s the point of anything?

I am a high-functioning person, so through this meaninglessness, I went to work every day.

I did what my job required me to do, and nothing more. The time after coming out was a very dark period.

I remember thinking that it would be okay if I just didn’t wake up the next day because nothing meant anything. I remember thinking that I wanted to be anywhere but New York. My mind was clogged and I couldn’t even bring myself to write. Whatever little I wrote rung with hopelessness. For example, I wrote this once:

I want to walk, and keep walking, until I end up in a stranger land, where I have no expectations of feeling at home. At least that way, I’ll have a solid reason to feel like a foreign body has taken my place, and the tiny part of me that was real is disappearing into a dark hole in the pit of my stomach. (2/20/17)

To me, we were all living disparate lives, just trudging along in separate parts of the universe, alone and unable to comprehend each other. There didn’t seem to be a way out.

However, there is always a way out, and the way out presents itself with time. Not only is it time, but it is also effort.

An effort to renew yourself, to push yourself beyond what you think you have become. It’s been over a year since that period in my life, and I have gone through depression several times since then, and continue to do so even now. Some days it is only a small elephant in the corner of my room, just observing as I actively live my life. Watching me write, watching me volunteer within my community, watching me rebuild my relationship with my mother, father, brother and cousins, watching me laugh over the phone with my girlfriend or potato on the couch with my close friends.

At other times, it is a big elephant, engulfing my mood and in those times, I just sit with it, with the faith in myself that it will pass.

Because now I know this: You don’t simply sit around hoping to find meaning, you create it.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.