The date Subhankar Roy chose to come out as a gay man to his parents, September 21, 2019, will be etched in his “memory forever”. “I was having a bad day. My boyfriend was feeling insecure about our relationship. He said I will never be able to be honest in our relationship if I don’t come out. So I decided to take that leap,” says Roy, a 25-year-old resident of Barasat (a suburb of Kolkata).
Roy, who calls himself a “badhdho chele” (obedient son) of his parents, expected some sort of backlash, but what followed was something more “violent and scary”. “My parents didn’t want to believe me. Which is a normal reaction. But within minutes, they built a new narrative in their mind. They insisted that my boyfriend, Virat, is behind all this,” says Roy, who is an employee of a private firm in Kolkata.
In the days that followed, Subhankar claims that he was subjected to mental and physical abuse by his parents. “They took me to a psychiatrist, who clearly stated that there is nothing wrong with me and my sexual orientation is not an illness. They were not happy with that diagnosis. They insisted that I am sick and started monitoring my every move,” says Subhankar Roy.
Things took a turn for the worse, says Subhankar, when his parents insisted that he get married to a girl. “I told them I can’t think of anyone apart from my boyfriend in that way. Even if they break us up, I will be with another boy,” says Subhankar. Eventually, the physical abuse intensified. “One evening, I wanted to venture out of the house but my parents tried to stop me and then my father called our neighbours and tried to physically restrain me. I pushed my mother accidentally. That’s when my father beat me up brutally. I started bleeding,” he says.
Then there were constant death threats. “My father told me that he has friends in high places and he wouldn’t stop at hiring a contract killer to get rid of Virat,” says Subhankar. Virat Dey, 29, Subhankar’s boyfriend, corroborates. “They would stalk me on social media, call me and abuse me in the filthiest of language. I was also followed by some goons. I still am in constant fear,” says Dey.
Allegedly, Subhankar’s parents also took copies of Virat’s Aadhar Card and other personal documents and said they will use it to frame him in some case. “Before all this happened, I had to give Virat’s documents to my cousin because he had promised him a job interview. My cousin gave Virat’s documents to my parents and now they are using it to threat him,” says Subhankar.
Things came to a head when Subhankar’s parents staged an intervention along with the local Trinamool Councillor, Champak Kumar Das. “It was clearly an intimidation tactic on their part. My father who is close to Champak Kumar Das wanted him to force us into submission. The councillor told my father I have become “beparwah” (heedless) and he should take make a very calculated decision. There were goondas too in the room so we didn’t argue much with them,” says Subhankar.
When indianexpress.com contacted Trinamool Councillor Champak Kumar Das, he claimed that he did nothing to intimidate the couple. “I told the father that his son is not normal and he can’t have a normal life. He has to make peace with it. There is another such person in our locality. She is a girl who dresses up as a man. Even her parents are very upset. But what can be done. Not everyone is alike,” said Das.
On November 15th, Subhankar decided to leave his home and seek shelter at the residence of transgender activist, Ranjita Sinha, member of the Association of Transgender.
“They have been trying to contact us for some time but I was busy. As an adult, he has every right to move out of his house, so I was only too happy to give him shelter. He was traumatised because of death threats. It’s unfortunate that even after a year of the historic decision to write down Section 377 of IPC by the Supreme court, we see such persecution of the queer community in our country. Imagine how helpless a person feels when his parents go against him like this,” says Sinha.
On November 17, Subhankar filed a police complaint against his parents at the Barasat police station.
Repeated attempts to connect with the officer-in-charge of the Barasat police station didn’t yield any results. When Indian Express Online spoke to Subhankar’s father, Gopal Roy, he denied all allegations. “We never physically abused him. He is the one who physically assaulted his mother because of which she had a cerebral attack,” said Gopal.