Before her son Raj came out to her, Hemlata Ahir's younger daughter had already told her about his sexual orientation. At that time, she just refused to believe this. It wasn't until Raj himself acknowledged it that she finally knew it to be true.
Though she says she would have been extremely supportive if she heard of someone else coming out, it was shocking to hear that her son was gay. It took her two days before she could speak to him again. And when the shock of the news subsided, they had a frank talk.
Raj told his mother that he had realised his orientation when he was in high school, but kept it from his mother. He said he had been looking to break the news when he was mature enough to handle whatever were the consequences of his coming out. So, he spoke to her only after turning 20.
Hemlata says when she heard all of that, she was not angry. In fact, she felt sorry that her son had to live a lie and pretend to be someone he was not. She imagined him being bullied by other boys in school. It just broke her heart to think of her son in such situations. It made her so overcome with emotions that all she could do to express her love for her child at this moment was give him a warm hug.
She believes that, and says she would say this to every parent of a queer child, the love between a parent and child can not be conditional. In fact, a child who is going to face harsh social judgements qualifies for more support at home, not less.
It has been ten years since the coming out, and Hemalata often gets questions from relatives about when Raj would get married. She says that most of them know about his orientation, even though the family hasn't told them directly. When anyone asks, she just tells them, "My son is happy with his life. He does not intend to get married," in such a nonchalant way that there is no scope for any further questions.
In fact, Raj has been engaged to his partner for the last two years. When he first introduced him to Hemlata, she was happy that her son had found a life partner. She had even met his partner's family when she visited the couple in Mumbai.
All the relatives also know about this partnership. Looking at his mother's acceptance, they have also been supportive of the relationship and don't have anything negative to say about Raj's choices and sexual orientation. Hemlata even plays the mother-in-law to the tee, becoming the mother of her son-in-law, giving relationship advice to the couple and also allowing her son to blow the steam about his partner with her!