This is a guest post from Wendy Blackheart, at Heart Full of Black, for the Scarleteen blogathon.
Ah, Scarleteen. I can actually remember a time before Scarleteen – they started up in 1998, when I was in 8th grade. See, I went to a school where 99.9% of our sexual health information was from an abstinence only program.
Time for another installment of Building Bridges, where we facilitate, then publish a conversation between two people in different life stages who have something with gender, sexuality and/or relationships in common. This time, our intergenerational pair is two women who have had their sexual orientation and identity shift for them during the course of their lives.
My friend wants to be in a relationship with me, but I am afraid to because I am her only means of support (that's not me being full of myself, she's actually said that) and if things were to turn sour I have two parents and countless friends and trusted adults whom I have no problems talking to, whereas she would have no one to talk to, me being her only confidant, and she can't very well talk to...
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.
Four years ago, Joseph Rocha was a committed and ambitious 18-year-old Navy recruit sure of two things: his love for his country and the corresponding desire to serve it in the Armed Forces, as well as his sexual orientation as a gay man. Unfortunately, the latter was very much in conflict with the former.