After years and years (and years!), I can finally say I am comfortable with who I am. It’s been a ridiculous journey filled with lots of u-turns and construction zones, but I’ve finally arrived at a place where my brain and my heart can comfortably work together to be happy with who I am. But what about the desi part?
It’s weird to have to compartmentalize my life so much, but it’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m still in college, so I’m socially bound to hang out with the brown kids. I’m an officer of the Indian Student Association and I’m on the university’s Bhangra team. And let’s be honest, for me, having an Indian community to be part of is just as important as having a gay community to be part of. But at the end of the day, it’s still so hard for me to reconcile those two aspects of who I am.
Increasingly, I’m nervous about my worlds colliding. It wouldn’t be that difficult. While I’m cautious, I do still sneak kisses with my girlfriend on campus, and hold her hand when I think no one is looking. I talk about her with friends that I’m out to, but I’m also the loudest person on the planet, so someone could totally overhear us. When cornered into talking about my love life with someone I’m not out to, I use gender neutral pronouns. I’m not the most discrete semi-closeted queer in the world, partially because I absolutely hate having to hide a part of who I am.
Earlier this week was National Coming Out Day, and all I could really think about is how jealous I am of my gay friends who are out to everyone in their lives. I wish I could put cute pictures of the girlie and I on my facebook. I wish I could just walk down the street and hold her hand. I wish I could just say “No, I’m not free that weekend, my girlfriend and I are celebrating 6 months together”, but instead, I’m silent. I’m silent on so many levels, even when people express their homophobia and close-mindedness. I worry about what the Aunties will say, how they’d treat my parents if they knew, how they’d treat me if they knew, how they’d react if I ever brought a girlfriend home. Or what if they find out, and then years down the road, I end up with a guy? Bisexuality is even more taboo than gayness among the Indians I know. And then there’s my parents. They know, but they act like they don’t. I hate being the child that’s breaking their hearts simply by being who I am. I’m at this point where I’m ready to break down the closet door, Rambo style, but sometimes our cultural expectations make me want to go lurk in the back behind the winter coats.
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?