On the penultimate day of 2018, Janaki Ravi was a happy mother. Her elder daughter Ananyaa had secured her dream job in an American company after earning her MS from a prestigious college there. Her son, a year junior to the daughter, was on his way to achieve these milestones. Now, the next big life goal was getting her kids married.
Ananyaa had come home during the holidays at the time, and Janaki's plan was to arrange an alliance while her daughter was still home. Groom searching was on with full fervour - enlisting the help of family, friends, distant relatives, neighbours and whoever wished to help. That evening while she was praying for the elusive 'suitable groom', her daughter stole her away to tell her something important; she came out as a lesbian.
Janaki remembers her first reaction was that of utter shock. Unable to process the information, she engaged herself in some household chores robotically. On gaining composure, she asked Ananyaa for a clarification. In the conversation that followed, she instinctively asked her daughter about the girl she was dating. When she saw pictures of the two girls, the happiness of being with each other evident on their faces and in their eyes, Janaki's heart immediately warmed up to her daughter all over again.
She looked back at all the times her daughter shared news articles about homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community in a whole new light. As a mother herself, she felt compassionate towards children going through such mental anguish. However, she never imagined that those issues would be discussed in her family. In days to come, she came to know that her son and her brother already knew about this aspect of Ananyaa's life. She had been doing all these things to prepare Janaki mentally for the eventual coming out.
Internet introduced her to Sweekar, an organisation consisting of "rainbow parents" or parents of those who identified themselves as queer - the larger umbrella term for sexual minorities. It was there that she met other parents who were at different phases of acceptance of their children's identities. Words of wisdom from another parent that struck a chord with her were: Your daughter has come out to you, it is now your turn to come out as the parent of a queer child.
Even months after her daughter came out of the closet, Janaki hoped this was a phase or just some confusion. It took fifteen months since the disclosure for her to finally accept her daughter's reality. Through Sweekar, she also got a chance to write about their journey as a family from coming out to acceptance.
Relatives and acquaintances started posing all sorts of questions to the family. The most recent time when the family had to field questions about Ananyaa's personal life was her brother's wedding. After all, the younger brother was getting married even as the older sister had not. A simple way to dismiss all these questions was to include Ananyaa's partner in all the rituals and ceremonies. And when people still raise questions or offer unsolicited advice, Janaki smiles outwardly while her mind starts playing the famous Hindi song, "Kuch to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna (People will talk, its people's job to talk)…"!