The Rainbow Heart campaign was created with a firm belief in the power of telling our stories: stories of acceptance of our queer identity – by ourselves or by others. The first edition of this compilation has eight heartwarming stories: ‘My Second Refuge’, by Haima, is the seventh story in this series.
Growing up wasn’t too easy for me. School was particularly hard. My peers often made fun of me for having short hair and for my mannerisms, which weren’t what you’d call ‘traditionally feminine’. I got into trouble often resulting in frequent suspension and I changed over six schools, struggling to stay afloat. However, school after school, the bullying continued. It almost became a shadow and came with me everywhere I went. I began to rebel hard and used my rebellion as a shield.
While school became my battlefield, home became my refuge.
I found comfort in my mother’s voice and in how bravely she accepted a concept she didn’t fully understand. My sister, who I had confided in, outed me when I was 14. I didn’t get to tell my story. It was stolen from me. But my beautiful mother refused to treat me differently. She not only embraced it, but also normalized it for me and the rest of my family. I began to feel comfortable in my skin under the safety of my home.
Over the years, I always questioned how someone so much older, someone who wasn’t very well acquainted with the concept could accept it but the world outside couldn’t.
My friends were moody when it came to the topic of my sexuality. Their level of acceptance or mockery changed according to their moods. In fact, shortly after coming out to one of my first friends in school, a strange set of rumors began. Another friend also used it to threaten and blackmail me. I was consumed by the fear of being expelled from yet another school.
Things changed drastically (for the better) when I moved to Bombay for college. At Sophia, I met the kindest set of women. It became my second home. My second refuge.
For the first time, I could talk about my sexuality openly without the fear of being ridiculed or judged. I met so many more people from the community and the nicest allies. My younger self could’ve never imagined that there could’ve been a time like this and the courage I’ve found here has enabled me to further help so many others who are struggling with their sexuality.
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