I’m a gaysi, through and through. I love my girlfriend as much as I love tandoori chicken. And I love that I no longer need to try and justify both of those aspects to myself – I fully accept and love myself. It’s just that sometimes I wish there were an instruction manual on how to do this. In a culture that (still!) can’t even talk with their daughters about heterosexual relationships, how do you bring up being queer? When everyone you know is a “didi”, a “bhaiyya”, an “aunty”, or an “uncle”, regardless of blood-ties, how on earth do you even begin to tell your giant Indian family?
Living in Canada was a dream come true. It is here that I eventually met my better half, which is a story reserved for another huge article. I survived the first winter but by the end of which I was yearning for the warmth of Mumbai. Only in the absence of it did I realize the importance of the scorching sun.
Through our years of friendship, I was always careful never to judge, and separated her actions from her personality to be able to love the person she was. And I don’t feel like I received the same consideration. It was like she was just relieved that by Indian standards, someone had finally done something “worse” than her.
“That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am so relieved”, she continued, “I thought you were an addict. It’s natural to be gay. They have discovered it in over eighty species of animals.”
Not exactly where I was directing the conversation but at least she was okay. Secretly I thanked Nat Geo and its reach towards a Marathi audience. I sat up, facing her I asked “So you are okay with that?”
As a college student, I’d lived in the dorms for 2 years – 1 as a resident, 1 as a resident assistant, which is like a hall monitor or whatnot in the dormitories of the American collegiate system. My first year, my roommate was awful, but she moved out after first term and I never had to bother coming out to her. My second year, one of the perks of the RA job was that I got free room and board, with a room to myself.
It is not surprising that the moment one is faced with the prospect of talking about one’s sexuality, the first instinct is to take refuge in fiction. The subjective experience, recorded in the first person—in acknowledgment of the conventions of the autobiographical—rings false; one is suspicious of interpretations of one’s past, however well-intentioned, however temporary.
What happens when your identical twin brother whom you’ve spent all your waking hours for twenty years, becomes your sister? Red without Blue
is a documentary about just that.
So there we were showcasing our popular traits; Ruswa and her Colgate smile, whereas yours truly was almost ready to dish out her gyaan on how to attract Quality women & Quantity women, depending on what one is running after. (Please Note: Gaysi recruiters are selfless creatures, who stop at nothing to accomplish their goals). Needless to say, in 30 minutes, our prospect was ready to have “Gaysi” tattooed on his forehead.
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.
I first came out as a lesbian when I started college as an undergrad. I went through all the rites of passage that the white queers had set up for me, and I abandoned the straight desi girls. I’m not necessarily sad that I abandoned them. I missed them later and tried to play catch-up, but their never-ending conversations about how their evil parents wouldn’t let them buy that coach purse, and how scary black men are were ridiculous and tiring. And somehow I always managed to subconsciously find my way back to the closet whenever I was in their company.
I am fascinated by happy stories where my gay friends and their families have found peace. When a gay friend told me, how her ex-girlfriend was accepted as a part of her family and her dad got along like house on fire, I almost turned green with envy. Another narrates how her partner and she lived with her parents like a married couple, under the same roof! When a friend’s status update talks about how her sister and her girlfriend are cooking her favourite food, I can’t help but be thrilled for them!
I am writing this letter because I have something important to tell you and I felt that writing it down would be the best way to do so. Before that I want to reassure you that everything is alright with me. I am perfectly healthy, happy and doing something I enjoy for work. As your daughter, I love you and dad very much and can never be grateful enough for the comforts, opportunities and love you have always provided.
I usually had the habit of blowing things way out of proportion; I read between the lines, I interpreted a gesture more than I should have. But not this. Here …
We had known one another for more than a year, working in the same organization, and sharing the same company accommodation. We easily discovered comfort in one another's company. We were introduced through a common contact and very soon our professional relationship crossed personal boundaries and when exactly we got so involved, was hard to tell.
To share something so personal with everyone except with the ones who made me feels like a betrayal. So does the book itself: exposing our family, telling their stories, stories which aren’t mine. “What happens in the home, stays in the home,” my mom would warn us. Which betrayal is worse? Which betrayal weighs more?
Later that night I dropped by her cubicle, to hand in my research. She was beyond doubt, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And it didn’t stop there.
I looked strangely nervous in response to an everyday ‘Mom’ question like the one that was just put forth to me. I could feel the sweat on my brow in spite of the ceiling fan blades rotating at full speed. My hands were bizarrely cold and numb on a hot Sunday morning resulting in the loss of my sense of touch.
Adults can be assholes sometimes. Or most of the time. Children on the other hand are so much more accepting and kind. Life is simple if you’re a child- fewer …
I have observed something (even in the Q community) – that when someone says they are “Queer”, people just assume they are “gay”. This was much more on my face …