As some of you know, I went home for the holidays – home being my parents’ house. I had just finished up a term at school, so I was ready to relax…except, of course, I’m a gaysi returning to her parents’ ultra-conservative household, which was anything but relaxing. The first couple days went by alright, but I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. You see, I’d come out to them (for the second time) just a few weeks back. And drop it did!
My younger brother was out to a holiday party, and my parents asked me to come sit with them. I was assuming they wanted to watch an old Malayalam movie with me or something, but in retrospect that would have been the less torturous option. Instead, my parents wanted to discuss my “lesbian tendencies”. I’m beginning to think my dad should copyright the phrase “lesbian tendencies” for usage by future homophobes/jerks.
They started by telling me how stressed out they were over “this thing”, and did I ever think about the consequences? I asked what consequences those would be, and was told that I should have thought about how this would affect my parents, and that they could never show their faces at their dinner parties. After all, who would want to invite the parents of a homosexual to their dinner fête?
And I just sat there, stunned. My parents care more about their dinner parties than they care about their own kid?! Let’s have a round of applause for “unconditional love”, why don’t we? And my parents went on about how they’d be shunned by the Indian community, and how inconsiderate it was of me to not think of these things. As if I hadn’t thought about these things, terrified and alone, for over a decade before I decided to even tell a single soul that I thought I was different.
At this point I was in tears, but my parents barreled on. About how they’ve always provided for me, about how they’ve always given me everything to be successful. And it’s true, they have given me lots…of money. Which I appreciate, don’t get me wrong. I know I was lucky to have dance classes and piano lessons and tutoring as a kid. But I would have gladly traded all that to have my parents come to just one debate tournament, just one bhangra team performance, or just one rugby game. They proudly displayed all my trophies on the wall, but they couldn’t have told you what activities the awards came from unless they first looked in their checkbook to see what they paid fees for. I thought about this as they went on and on about how they think this is a phase, how I just need to try harder, how I just need to pray more to Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan, and Shirdi Sai Baba, and everything will get better. As if I hadn’t already done all of those things.
The final straw was my mom saying that maybe I’m a lesbian because I have a secret pornography addiction. At that point, I stopped being sad and just got angry. Let’s be honest, most “lesbian” porn is directed at straight men anyway, and if I were really into 2 lipstick lesbians slobbering on each other while displaying obscenely long fingernails and an assortment of sex toys that look like they’re from the clearance bin, I would probably be sorely disappointed in real-life lesbians. Our conversation ended with me wrenching myself out of my parents’ grasp, crying in the hallway, and telling them that I’d never force them to deal with this, and that I wouldn’t bring it up again if they would just leave me alone. Alone in the sense that they would never again bring up the topic of me marrying anyone, because I don’t want to marry anyone they want me to marry. They didn’t reply.
I never expected coming out to be easy, but I didn’t expect it to be like this. The first time I came out to my parents, they were so upset they made me pay for 2 terms of college by myself (while still claiming me on their taxes so I couldn’t appeal for financial aid as an independent entity). But they got over it and started paying for college again, which I took as a good sign. And a very much appreciated one, because I couldn’t work and keep my grades up when I was so depressed. I came out the second time, and while my parents didn’t take it well (again), they still didn’t go off the deep end. But now it’s like they’re nuts. They’re paranoid that someone will look at my short hair and my preference for jeans and practical shoes and assume I’m a lesbian. My parents used to be ultra-liberal, but they announced to me over the holidays that they had both changed their voter registration to the Republican Party, because their “moral”-based platform “makes more sense”. What a great Christmas present – my parents officially don’t support my basic civil rights as a queer person.
I think what frustrates me the most is how self-centered they are being. In some ways, I feel like I’m being the parent – I’m trying to be conscientious of the fact that this is not easy news, I’m trying to be understanding and patient and forgiving, but it’s hard. Accepting myself was no walk in the park, but I always held out hope that my parents would accept me too.
I’m no longer banking on it. And it’s sad. I’m only twenty-one, and I’m officially faced with the knowledge that I’ll never be able to bring a partner home. I’ll never be able to take a girlfriend to India to meet my grandparents and take her to our family temple. I want my big fat gaysi wedding, but I don’t think my parents would attend even if I begged them.
And I don’t even know if I’m strong enough to give up my family, which is my biggest tie to my culture and my heritage, to be with someone I love. As much as I am angry with my parents, I still love them, and I still feel a sense of duty to do what’s right, even if I want to do it on my terms. I want both – a partner, and a relationship with my parents – but they seem to be mutually exclusive.
It’s shitty to look to the future and see nothing but pain. I feel like either way, I’m going to lose someone I love.