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In 2017, I was in a situationship with a friend. The unrequited love broke my heart badly, and it took me a while to move on.

Since childhood, I've felt different from others; I had a sense of being unique. I loved bangles and frocks. My mom even dressed me as a girl because they were expecting a girl during her pregnancy. I'm Ujjwal, born and raised in a middle-class family in Nagpur. My father is a policeman, and my mom is a homemaker. I have an older brother who is five years older than me.

Despite having a traditional and supportive family, I often felt alone during my childhood. Due to my father's frequent transfers, I couldn't make friends, and my feminine behavior made it even harder. This loneliness drove me deep into books and comics.

School life was tough due to my weak physique. I tried sports once, but classmates mocked me during a running race, calling out, "Why are you running like a girl?" This experience haunted me for a long time, making me hesitant to run or jog.

At the age of 8, a family friend, also a cop, behaved inappropriately towards me. I never disclosed this to my family. Incidents like these shattered my confidence and made me withdraw further.

When I moved to Pune for my first job, I was socially awkward, shy, and lacked confidence. In Pune, I got into a relationship with someone struggling with their sexuality and internal homophobia. This relationship lasted for about seven months.

I pursued a career in medical and psychiatric social work, which helped me understand my orientation and accept my true self.

In 2012, I was assaulted by two men when I went to meet someone at their place for a hook-up. I wasn't aware of the second person being there, who also tried to record me. This incident was one of the main reasons I came back to Nagpur, but I eventually returned and worked there for four more years. I could never share this with anyone except my doctor, who was a senior colleague.

At work, I encountered toxic colleagues, including one who was liked by everyone but made derogatory comments about my sexuality. I sought help from my boss, which boosted my confidence and career.

In 2017, I was in a situationship with a friend. The unrequited love broke my heart badly, and it took me a while to move on.

When I came out to my parents back in Nagpur, my brother reacted with verbal abuse. Despite this, my mother supported me, followed by my father. Although we don't discuss my queer life, they accept and understand me.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, my relationship with my brother improved, despite not exchanging words for over two years.

I'm now confident in my queer identity and express it openly on social media and at pride events. However, I find Nagpur lacks spaces for healthy interactions within the queer community.

Dealing with a health condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, I stay busy with my work, providing psychological support professionally.


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