How childhood bullying taught me to be resilient
February 26, 2019
“Okay, we still love you, now what’s for dinner” was not the response Amit was expecting when he came out to his Indian parents, but it wasn’t always that easy. This is his story on how his experiences as a child have helped to shape who he is today.
My origin is Indian, and I was born and brought up in India. I came to Australia at the age of 21, almost 19 years ago. Coming out to my parents, who still live in India was absolutely the most uneventful coming out story.
I told my parents in 2006, and they were like, okay, we still love you, now what’s for dinner. I was like, oh my God, are you sure there is no drama? I was expecting some sort of negativity but it was the most positive experience.
They weren’t necessarily jumping for joy but they said “we still love you for who you are, and nothing changes.”
Since then, they’ve met my husband on multiple occasions and really bonded with Tim. They probably speak to Tim more than they speak to me, and I have an equally strong relationship with my in-laws. I’ve been with Tim for 12 years now.
It’s definitely an unusual reaction for an Indian family. A lot of people are surprised by my story. India is changing but I have been saddened by some of the stories I’ve heard about my school friends in India. Some were taken to the doctors’ and one commited suicide, which was really hard to hear.
I was very badly bullied in school, and I didn’t know why I was being bullied.
I wasn’t very “straight-acting”. I was effeminate in my mannerisms and gestures. I was confused,I didn’t understand why everyone else was “normal” and I wasn’t.
When you’re eight or nine, it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or straight because kids at that age don’t even know what that means, but they do know what “normal” looks like and when someone is not “normal”, they bully you.
For almost a decade, I was bullied in school, by some neighbours and even relatives. There was physical bullying and a lot of emotional bullying. I remember, I’d go to bed and cry every night because I just didn’t want to go to school the next day.
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I don't know where or how I found the strength but I somehow conjured up the courage to wake up every morning and go to school. I would go to school and fight all the these battles on my own. I became resilient.
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By 16, I was pretty sure of who I was. It was like a lightbulb moment; and once I was there, I didn’t find it difficult to accept. A lot of people struggle at the acceptance stage. I did not. I found it easy to finally accept myself and embrace my sexuality.
Accenture was my first company that I came out to.
I’d worked at places where it just didn’t feel right. There was still a bit of homophobia, and off-the- cuff comments. I didn’t feel comfortable, but then I moved to Accenture, and in the first three months I came out.
Accenture is truly a great place to work. I don’t feel like I need to even justify or define myself. They’ve made it such that it’s not even about coming out, it’s about being yourself. You should be comfortable to talk about your husband, and what you did on the weekend with your husband.
They’ve normalised things and we want things to be “normal”. They’ve just created this whole community to say it’s okay to be who you are.
Hopefully, in the future, there will be no allies per se. I want everybody to be an ally, so if everybody is an ally, then the concept of ally doesn’t exist; everybody is an ally by default.
Enjoying the Cherry Blossoms in Japan
Coming out is a volatile and very vulnerable thing to do. My story is one of many but I think it’s important to tell these stories because people need to know it gets better.
Even though I didn’t have an easy childhood, I’m now with my husband of 12 years whom my family loves. I’ve been very fortunate as an adult, to be surrounded by people who are very supportive both in my personal and professional life.
I feel like I’m a lot stronger now because of my experiences as a child. If I had an easy childhood and I wasn’t bullied, I probably wouldn’t be as strong a human being as I am today.
If you’re being bullied and if you’re going through a difficult time in your life, you have to find a way to fight it. There is no formula or a straight answer, every situation is unique. But one thing is clear, you will come out successful on the other side.
Sometimes you get the short end of the stick. You win some, you lose some, but just keep going, because it’s worth it.
In Petra, Jordan
Amit is an active member of Pride at Accenture. He’s helped raise awareness and increased LGBTIQ Ally numbers multiple-fold. We’re committed to providing a supportive environment that combines flexibility, diversity and learning.