Ever since puberty, I found my body to be a site of shame, something I desperately wanted to escape.
A transplant to predominantly white Catholic schools on Long Island, I was immediately deemed ugly. I had an older sister, but we were close enough in age that we were navigating puberty around the same time. As second-generation daughters of immigrant parents, we were on our own as far as navigating the personal and social meanings of our bodies.
Although I think of myself as South Asian, I was born overseas and have always lived in a Western country. Our family still carries many of our traditional values from back home and we have a large community here. I came out to my parents around 3 years after having my own realizations. The impetus for this was that they had started to look for marriage partners for me.
My family is supportive of my life, as long as they get to ignore the queer part. I know they can't handle it so I don't talk about it with them. As for my community of colour, the only one I've ever really been a part of is my mom's church family, and I know they wouldn't be able to handle it either.
Being queer and South Asian isn't easy; being queer and mixed is harder, because any community can put it down to the OTHER identity group. That said, my Indian grandmother has been incredibly supportive, and no one has written me hate mail or disowned me. I'm very grateful for the internet, and for the time I've spent in larger cities. Both give me a sense that there's someplace I might sort of fit in.
Being attracted to men didn't bother me as much as how that attraction would play out. There aren't many black MSMs in the media so it was hard for me to reconcile my race and my masculinity with my attraction to men. I felt as though I would be seen as weak or effeminate by others.
At age 17 during my senior year of highschool, I was at a crossroads. "Should I turn against my religious beliefs and how I was raised or should I listen to my heart and live the life that I want?" I chose to be a righteous Christian and a good daughter. Yet, I felt more disconnected with my Faith each time I prayed about my "ungodly" feelings.