“You’re not gay are you?” the question that I didn’t want to answer as my mum was driving me to work. Shall I say yes? If I say yes how will she react? Is she gonna emergency break and crash the car? What do I do? All these thoughts were running through my head and I was still scared of how mother dearest was going to react. It all started off with a conversation on marriage. Typical *especially in the Indian community*. But I knew I had to tell her, sooner rather than later.
Every time my mum and I are in the car we have discussions and debates about life and share information that helps both of us grow but coming out as “gay” was something that always frightened me. I didn’t want her to be disappointed in me, I didn’t want her to hate me or kick me out for something I had no choice over. When was the right time to tell her? There is no right time. I thought back to a conversation I had with my friend who read me a passage from a spiritual book on how lying and constantly having to ‘hide’ things from parents will just get worse and have a bigger impact so with this in mind and the conversation in the air of the ‘possibility’ I was gay, I thought.. fuck it – the time is now.
Being South Indian, marriage is at the forefront of your life – it’s what makes or breaks you according to the community. I have never wanted a full blown Bollywood wedding – I don’t care about how many people will be on the dance floor and fake smile through what is supposed to be the ‘happiest day of my life’. I don’t care. Indians believe that if you aren’t married and have a family by the time you’re 30, you are nothing – you are lonely and sad: but this backward thinking mentality is outdated.
We would talk about my brother getting married and the expectations she had that would bring both my parents such happiness but, would that make my brother happy? It comes down to your happiness and what makes you happy. The Asian community is run on family and what others think of you.
I was walking back home from the bus stop, again my inner thoughts were eating me alive – how was I going to come out? Do I say it like this? Do I say it like that? Breathing in the confidence, exhaling the fear – it’s now or never. I opened the door and saw my mum cooking, singing along to her 80s club hits she was in a more-than-merrier mood, I didn’t want to rain on her parade but the words just gushed out like flowing water off a waterfall. ‘I am gay mum’, the sudden drop in my heart and the gulp in my throat was unreal, I actually just came out to my mum.
‘No your not, what you talking about Anthony?’ she said with a sense of certainty in her voice. Which assured her what I was saying was false, she didn’t want to believe it. “It’s not in our culture, our religion, our DNA. You’ve gone mad – you can’t be.” I felt as if she was saying all these things to make me rethink what I just said. “Everyone in the family will be so disappointed and upset, you can’t do that.” It all made sense to me, she was saying all of this because, when someone would ask her – how did you allow him to be himself, my mum could reply with ‘I warned him and told him what I had to’. The last time I checked I had been doing what makes me happy. The conversation started turning into a tennis match with comments being thrown back and forth regarding my sexuality, I ended it with ‘well I’m not gonna change so it’s up to you to deal with this news how you have to’.
I ran to the shower, cried for 10 minutes and came back to reality fresher and more ready than ever – I am more than grateful that my mum has still, to this day, supported me and kept and allowed me to be in a career that is ‘unstable’ and savvy. I am neither a doctor or a PHD student but I do know I’m not hiding who I truly am, whether I wanna be flamboyant or silent – I have a choice and I hope this story will open up your eyes to something that isn’t an easy task – I shouldn’t have to write that I was worried about how my mum or family are gonna react, I want there to be no label, being gay is just a part of me, not the whole of me. This is my culture.