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Francis Heran: Mental Health Unlocked Charitable Foundation

Growing up in an Indian family was for me, akin to living in a closed authoritarian society. Particular subjects and behaviours were out of bounds. Sexual subjects with parents a taboo, even as teenagers, and beyond, staying out until the early hours of the morning, a request my older siblings, two brothers, one sister, and I knew not to make. The oppressive vibe of living in that environment gave everyone a survival instinct and with that an evil presence manifested, leading to infighting. 

Cliques within the family emerged, poor you if you did not belong. My sister and I never belonged to the clique, though we formed no alliance of our own.

Verbal and physical abuse, commonplace. My father enjoyed his drink and showed its effect on him. In 1988, he hung himself. We all hated him.

Life continued for the family. I am the youngest child. The eldest took on the role of Dictator and my other brother relished becoming Judge and Executioner. My role, easy, the subjugated, deserving punishment.

Whilst growing up at home with my family, I had successfully hidden my sexuality. How I kept this a secret until my early 30s, I don’t know, there were, some almost “out” moments. But, one day, I had been writing letters to men. When I left my bedroom to take a break, the Dictator seized his opportunity to spy on my activities. He saw a letter revealing my secret and then planned his confrontation.

One night around 10ish, the Dictator asked his question, expecting a resolute denial from me. No, no denial. A meek “Yes I am, and I am always careful, I use protection.” The response, bizarre from him, a half-hearted punch to my face and “What should we do about you.”

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