Looking for My Place as a Gay Tamil Man

amalan3

Growing up as a racial minority in a majority white country isn’t easy. Add being gay to the mix and you’re bound to have issues.

My family immigrated to Montreal, Canada in 1992. I was only 7. We fled a war-torn country only to fight a different kind of battle here.

Fitting in wasn’t easy. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I knew that I was different – skin colour aside. 4th grade is when the label “gay” was introduced to me, along with the associated disgust people used to have in the 90s. That’s when my life took a negative turn.

With the constant pressure to do well in school and my need to feel like I belonged, I spent most of my time trying to impress my parents. I figured that even if they found out I was gay, maybe they’d at least forgive me because I was a straight A student. I was the good kid. I don’t think my brothers felt the same pressure.


“A part of me was afraid that my parents would kill themselves if I revealed that I liked guys.”


High school was the hardest time for me. No one knew it. I was good at hiding my homosexuality and my creeping depression. I had never kissed anyone nor had I shown any genuine interest in girls. However, the highlight of my high school years was my straight best friend whom I was madly in love with.

I left high school with a lot of self-doubt, self-hatred and a growing sense of homophobia. I was fighting myself and convincing myself that I wasn’t gay. I fought that feeling for years to come.

The part that made it hardest for me in all this chaos was my household. We never discussed sexuality. My parents never felt the need to talk about it. They would fast forward through sex scenes in Hollywood movies and the excessive rape scenes in Kollywood movies. The only time any sexual “deviation” was mentioned was when a feminine/transvestite character played the comic relief in Tamil movies. Those were the only role models I had. And that was not who I was, nor who I wanted to be.



I desperately wanted to fit in somewhere, but I felt like I didn’t. I didn’t belong with my straight friends. I didn’t feel like I belonged in my family, my culture or the Quebecois culture.

This sense of non-belonging created an internalized homophobic and racist mindset. I didn’t want to be Tamil. I hated my culture. I hated my name, the food we ate at home, the movies, the songs, everything. Even more, I hated feminine guys and anything gay. I hated pretty much all the labels that could’ve been assigned to me.

We eventually moved to Ottawa for a while. That’s when I met my first gay person, and I hated him. This hatred was born purely out of envy. He was so self-assured – a 17 year old gay kid comfortable with who he was.


“I was not attracted to brown men, nor Asians, nor black guys. White was the only way for me.”


In university, I finally had the courage to visit the LGBT centre after suicidal thoughts filled my mind constantly. I thought that maybe if I died before I came out, my parents wouldn’t feel shame. They would simply be sad and I figured that was better. Tamil movies have a way of making one feel guilty for shaming their families. A part of me was afraid that my parents would kill themselves if I revealed that I liked guys.

But it was at the LGBT centre where I learned that we, the queer people, were normal. That we deserved to have a happy life. It was a long and arduous process – it didn’t happen overnight.

Finally, I met my first boyfriend (albeit he was closeted). Here we were, two closeted gay boys trying to have a semblance of a relationship in secrecy. He is now married to a girl whom I doubt knows his history.

While I was with him, I was able to accept my homosexuality. But I did not get over the internalized racism. I was not attracted to brown men, nor Asians, nor black guys. White was the only way for me. I had alienated myself from everything I was.

Before graduating university, I started coming out to some people. Starting with a friend, then my younger brother, then more friends. My older brother was one of the last to know aside from my parents. I then moved back to Montreal to live my life as a gay man without possible scrutiny or doubt from my parents.



I came out to my parents in Easter 2013. They both took it very well, although I still don’t believe my mother understands what it means to be gay in modern Canadian society.

I’ve had a lot of introspection to do and I’d like to believe that I was able to rid myself of most my internalized self-hatred, homophobia and racism.

I am now a 32 year old Tamil-Canadian cisgender man who happens to be gay. The race of my human interest holds very little value to my eyes. The one regret I have is that I have distanced myself so much from my roots. To this day, I don’t know if I will ever be able to reconnect.

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Amalan

Amalan

Amalan is a first generation immigrant from Sri Lanka. Raised in a very bilingual environment in Montreal, Quebec. Loves humor and practices and teaches Lindy Hop in his free times. Whatever time he has left, he spends them learning about random facts that will bring nothing to his life.

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44 comments
Kumaran Nadesan
Kumaran Nadesan

The author should reach out to Snehithan Asaap - a Tamil MSM group. Haran Vijayanathan

Vic Arulchandran
Vic Arulchandran

Really impressed with some of the TC articles lately, keep it up.

Dhanya Raja
Dhanya Raja

I don't know why the word "queer" needs to be used any longer. All types of sexuality are normal. Why define or categorize each choice differently?

Raja Sekar
Raja Sekar

It is a global issue, The XYZ cultured family should understand how bad it is to force a gay man/woman to marry a straight woman/man. Living a lie is a stressful life which may lead to depression n psychotic conditions.Not only gay are bullied, but those supporting LGBTs as well. I have lost few of my facebook friends, as I used to post from STOP-Homophobia.com. I do not worry about what others think, I just post which I feel right to my knowledge.

Sam Carl
Sam Carl

Yes sure like our culture hasn't done nothing to give a bad name eh

Karessa Gov
Karessa Gov

How does homosexuality give Tamil culture a bad name? I'm curious.

Sam Carl
Sam Carl

He still living in yesterday years where a lot things weren't accepted in many culture and society. Too bad he doesn't realize it's 2017

Siddysix
Siddysix

Thanks for writing this. Gives hope to many closeted gay Tamils. 

Visakan Veerasamy
Visakan Veerasamy

Thanks for sharing your story, Amalan. You are seen and you are heard, and you belong here.

SorabShroff
SorabShroff

Amalan, I was touched by your extremely honest article.  I wish you much happiness.

JustAmalanStuff
JustAmalanStuff

@SorabShroff Thank you! I hope people are able to read and identify to my story and not feel like they are alone. 

Bairavi Sri
Bairavi Sri

Mithula Loganathan this was a good read

Saif Janjua
Saif Janjua

Luckshan That place is right by your side. \U0001f46c

Shangeetha Sadachcharen
Shangeetha Sadachcharen

I do admire you for coming out and telling your story. Hats off.. people need to be more open minded and accept people as they are.. but in our society.. this will take time.. but at least it's going in the right direction.

Raveen S. Nathan
Raveen S. Nathan

Although the struggle to fit in is acute amongst minority LGBTQ kids, it's not any less amongst straight minority kids either. Seeing my children grow in this environment, I can feel the pressure that they are going through, the various stages of distancing, self hate and finally finding peace with who they are. Some find that inner peace, for others it's elusive. We the generation that migrated, didn't have those pressures as survival in itself was victory but our children have different struggles. In a way I envy those who stayed put and didn't put their children through this cauldron. All the best to you in your journey to reconnect.

Param Sathiyarajan
Param Sathiyarajan

Very good article. You will find your 'bonheur', my best wishes to you.

Theepa Thile
Theepa Thile

This is nothing new in this world . Just be happy

Ravi Rama
Ravi Rama

no sister its nt in our culture

Theepa Thile
Theepa Thile

Ravi Rama bro what is culture ? Just what we made about years ... in every culture the kings have always some relationships like that

Thava Thavarajah
Thava Thavarajah

I am sure accepting others without being non judgemental is part of our culture :)

Brintha Gowrishankar
Brintha Gowrishankar

Let us not forget that homosexuality was a part of Tamil culture before colonisation. Whether you believe that it is a choice or not is irrelevant - there is nothing abnormal about it. Much love to my Tamil LGBTQ brothers and sisters xx

Mutu Ramasamy
Mutu Ramasamy

Any examples of being part of Tamil culture?

Siva Eesan
Siva Eesan

Do you have any source on homosexuality ever being accepted in Tamil culture as a socially appropriate behaviour? You could make a case for transsexuals but not so sure about homosexuals.

Kessy Veeragaloo
Kessy Veeragaloo

We are all equal in God's eyes, I wish you find your White partner, good luck in your relationship, respect your religion, take care.

Thanusan Thillainathan
Thanusan Thillainathan

Wish u get married to a lesbian girl ..sex illama saavuda mavane.. apo than puriyum unaku why homosexuals To be let live their life nu..

Tula Kaing
Tula Kaing

What sin? Hes gay, not a murderer

Santhosh Kumar
Santhosh Kumar

My Dear brother Here's the answer. God says: Surely u know that the wicked will not possess God's Kingdom. Don't fool yourselves; ppl who r..... adulterers or homosexual perverts... Will not possess God's Kingdom. I Corinthians 6: 9 & 10 \U0001f607

Thanusan Thillainathan
Thanusan Thillainathan

Wish u get married to a lesbian girl ..sex illama saavuda mavane.. apo than puriyum unaku why homosexuals To be let live their life nu..

RuthSiva
RuthSiva

Thank you so much for sharing your story <3


Rika Selvan
Rika Selvan

Everyone should be accepted! We're all humans first

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