When people ask me if I have a girlfriend, I tell them “I am gay.” I don’t shy away from revealing the truth about myself anymore. But it took me a long time to come to terms with my reality.
I always knew I was different but my parents and friends brushed aside the differences. I was good in studies, exceled in athletics and was popular. While everything seemed okay from the outside, somewhere inside I was torn. The self-doubt and the constant struggle to understand myself was painful. I used to cry when I was alone. To cover for this anxiety and to fit in, I even dated a girl. The relationship lasted only a year.
My “aha” moment
ROHIT ADKE: I had crushes on a couple of seniors in school but I didn’t really know what I was feeling. At that time, I had no idea what being gay meant. Neither was I aware of queer or other terms the LGBTI community identify themselves with. It was in the final year of engineering that my roommate poked fun at me for watching a TV series with a gay lead character. I couldn’t sleep that night and kept thinking about all my past experiences. Suddenly, everything seemed to fall in place. I realized I am gay.
RA: The next day, I came out to my sister over the phone. There was an awkward silence between the two of us. But she took it well and asked me not to worry. Soon after, I got my joining letter from Accenture and moved to Pune. Living on my own and working at at a place where everyone can be themselves boosted my confidence. When I finally came out to my parents, they broke down almost as if I had developed a defect. With my sister’s help, I explained to them what being gay means and how it is natural. My parents have since come around to my truth. But parents being parents, whenever I go out, they still ask me: “Going out with boyfriend, huh?” I don’t mind—I’m just relieved that they have accepted me for who I am.
A place where I feel safe
RA: I’m fortunate to have friends who support me and I’m blessed to be at Accenture. When I started attending Pride sessions, I realized that this is a place where I can be my true self. When I told my colleagues I’m gay, they were cool with it. I find the inclusive policies and equal environment at Accenture very empowering—they have helped me be the best version of myself and thrive at work. And I am proud to be part of a truly human organization that shows it cares. Recent policy changes such as extending insurance benefits for partners of our LGBTI people have made a real difference.
My message—People from the LGBTI community don’t need to be treated differently as they are as “normal” as you are.