RAGA OLGA D'SILVA
GET TO KNOW ME
What happens when a middle aged, professional woman, mother of adult kids, finally decides to shed her fears, live her truth and comes out gay in India?
A lot happens! Especially if you are 50, successful, and have lead a settled, fairy tale life.
Mostly, people call you crazy to your face (I am sure there were many other colourful names given to me behind my back). People also wonder about the motive behind coming out this late in life!! People talk! People Judge. People label, no matter what you do!
So, I said to myself, ‘If not me, WHO? If not now, WHEN’?.
It was my coming out story in my debut book, ‘Untold Lies’, that both intrigued and fascinated the media in India. Mine is not the average coming out story. India had only just recently decriminalized consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex (section 377). Homophobia is prevalent in India and discussions of LGBT issues in India have been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly. It is hard for people from the community to come out. It is much harder as a women. Then you add the fact that you are a middle-aged woman, with kids, perceived as married, a successful entrepreneur, globe trotter, and you come out. It seems to bother people.
Vulnerability always works, though. I decided to speak my truth.
As a woman raised in a traditional Indian family in Mumbai, I followed social norms; married, had kids (twins in my case), emigrated to New Zealand with my young family, excelled at my career. I tried hard to make my marriage work, but eventually it broke down and it was then that I chose to come out of hiding and live my truth.
When my truth was first exposed many years ago, what followed were deep stories of pain, anguish, abuse. My own mother held a blade over my head in the night one night from fear, from shame and from her inability to understand. I was ostracized from everything I knew and loved.
Eventually, I made peace and re-built my life – and am now in a long term stable cross-cultural relationship with a wonderful woman. My twins also call her their mum and my north Indian ex-husband is very much a part of my extended family and a great ally to us and the community.
In June 2020, Onir, the award-winning filmmaker signed a film deal with me, to take an adaptation of my ‘coming out’ story to the big screen.
I have since been invited to share my story and views on many various live, print and online platforms.
I have presented at numerous conferences, employee engagement programs and associations. I have also appeared on TV, Radio and various media platforms in the UK, India and New Zealand, including BBC, Sky TV, ITV, Channel 4, TVNZ. I am able to present in English and
COMING OUT GAY IN CORPORATE INDIA
I am a much sought-after speaker on the topics of LGBT, Diversity & Inclusion, Unconscious Bias, Personal Branding & Doing Business in India. I also provide be-spoke talks based on the brief and the objective you want to achieve.
I am in a strong position to discuss everyday issues that minorities and the LGBT community face, from my own personal experiences. From passing through immigration, facing the bank manager and filling out forms, I share relatable and thought-provoking stories. My natural style, sometimes humorous rhetoric and relatable manner makes me an ideal speaker for any audience and provoke conversations on what both individuals and companies can do to help make a positive change.
STORYOEMS – WHEN STORIES BECOME POEMS
I have lived an unconventional life, so it was apparent that when I decided to write a book I created my own unconventional format. ‘Storyoems’ – stories that segue seamlessly into poems.
Emotional and poignant, Untold Lies is about a little girl’s journey to the truth that not only saves her but gives the reader hope. For don’t we all have a little girl in us, confined by the labels given to us by others?
This relatable and courageous book is for anyone who has experienced the fear of being judged or of being unloved for being themselves.
No more lies and no more FEAR.
She couldn’t prolong this choice any more. She had known it for many years now. There was no turning back. It was inevitable. The universe had connected her with the biggest part of her soul and she had been forced to feel and to accept.
She had fallen in love with….
(excerpt from Untold Lies)