I’ve been wondering how to go about criticizing my family’s inability and unwillingness to discuss emotional topics, without playing on negative stereotypes about Asian parents being cold and pushy. I guess all I can do is emphasize that this is my personal experience and hope that readers don’t assume they can use my life experience to reinforce a stereotype.
In many ways I am thankful to have the family that I do. My father seems indifferent about who I date, and just doesn’t like to talk about feelings. However, although my mother wasn’t the most supportive person when I came out of the closet, I truly believe that she did her best considering her place in this world. She didn’t even consider disowning me, and I acknowledge that as a privilege because I have seen friends (desi and non-desi) struggle with the fear of being disowned for going against their parent’s wishes.
Despite her increasing willingness to at least talk about my sexuality (which is more than my father ever offered) I was hurt that she seemed to care more about what the Indian community would think than what I was feeling. However, I believe that she was genuinely trying to protect me from the Indian community and wasn’t punishing me on purpose. She has specifically shown to not be homophobic (or queerphobic) in other instances, and so I feel hopeful that she means well. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that she tried to normalize same-sex relationships during my childhood, but she has been accepting of her lesbian and gay friends, and despite her phase of being against gay-marriage, she now speaks up against homophobia when she sees it.
I feel as though my mother’s “unintentional homophobia” stems from coming from a generation and a family where arranged marriages were the norm; my mother really seems to believe that you can choose who you love. Personally, I’m sure you can learn to love someone, but if you’ve already fallen for someone then why should you have to learn to love someone else? I feel that although we have the power to choose a partner, we shouldn’t be expected to choose a love of convenience – is that even love?
It seemed like when I tried to come out to my mother, she thought I still needed to give men a chance, because my life would be easier if I did. But I wanted to exercise my choice and free will, and I don’t really see how “loving” a man solely to appease the Indian community is really a choice. Would my mother really rather I settle down with someone I do not love, than have to deal with a couple mean judgments from people who will never really love me anyway? I like to brag about how desis in the west know unconditional love like no other, because we have to support each other while our families are far away… but that is a lie if I cannot even be myself. That’s not unconditional love.
I am in love with a man and have been for two years, but it makes me queasy that my mother possibly thinks I am just with him for convenience.