June is known to be Pride month. It’s filled with joy, happiness, tolerance, and acceptance for the abnormal. We celebrate the vast diversity of human form, colour, ethnicity, religion, culture, love, and simply what makes us who we are. We celebrate us. We celebrate the greatness in union or culture consisting of human diversity. Pride just happens to be one of the few festivals that focuses on the importance of diversity. And I gladly join in. It´s just that joining in feels like abandoning something else. My own culture.
Growing up as a Norwegian-Tamil, who happened to be gay, was not easy. There is something about being Tamil and a boy that doesn’t match up with being gay. There are certain expectations you have to fulfill. It’s like if someone else has this perfect picture already painted for you. In my case, it would be my parents, their friends and so on. Your whole life would be a struggle to maintain that perfect picture. You don’t get to paint your own. You don’t get to mix colours and create new ones. So, while my parents carried around this perfectly beautiful picture of my life, I was making my own in silence - and hating myself for it. While I did that, I was also trying to maintain my parents´ picture, also hating myself for it.
I told my parents and broke their ideal picture they held of their son, at last after hiding for so long. As I was expecting, they didn’t welcome this “new me” into their life. My mom cried out loud yelling what had she done wrong. I didn’t answer of course. My dad just looked at me with those red demon eyes. I’m just saying, those eyes could kill. While all this was happening, some dramatic Tamil family-drama background song was playing in my head. And soon after, the world was dead silent. We didn’t speak to each other for nearly three months.
During those dark months, my entire school came to know my colourful secret. I told my friends, and they told their friends. Soon, in a week or so everyone was talking about my abnormality. Some would yell “Gay” like I didn’t know already, and some would be surprisingly okay with it. What I didn’t think of, was how me coming out of my closet would affect my own parents. And again I was picturing some typical Tamil family-drama- Kollywood style.
My parents’ social network, which consists of only Tamils, at this point were punishing them for letting me say these words out loud. They condemned my parents for letting me be who I wanted to be. They told my parents that they would never ever do the same to their children. My parents didn’t go to any birthdays or parties any longer. They started to blame me for making their life miserable. They felt shame having me, and made it clear that I didn’t bring them any honour. To them, I tossed out their honour the day I came out.
I am 24 now. I’m a social worker. I live with my Norwegian boyfriend. And I love my life. I am going to celebrate pride this year because I am proud of being gay and Tamil. Years have gone by since the blamegame as I like to call it. My parents and I are speaking again. We have never had a better relationship as we do now. We just don’t talk about me being gay, or me having a boyfriend, or me at all. I don’t want to either. I am afraid that telling them again would rip those scars open. I like to think that I’m hiding myself from them for their own good, but in doing so, I myself do not contribute to cultural change.
What scares me the most is that it doesn’t seem like anyone is contributing to that change. Is social control so successfully powerful that there is no change at all? When will Tamil TV be bold enough to show a family-drama of a more serious nature? When will there be debates about the society they live in? When will it be okay to talk about all that isn’t socially accepted and controversial? I like to think that culture is always evolving, some way or another. The greatest change comes when two cultures meet. The potential outcome of such an event can be gruesome. Luckily it can also be enriching for both. In my opinion, the Tamil culture all around the world needs to evolve together with the host culture. To hold back is to poison the air we breathe. I don’t want to abandon my family and culture just for being me. I want all of it. I want Tamils to show their own diversity. That is why I'm considering pride as something needed in a modern society, to enrich the Tamil culture. I just hope I'm not alone in thinking this way.