I'm a 20-year-old French-Tamil who was born in Sri Lanka during the war. I moved to France during my childhood, like most of the Tamil migrants living abroad. My life took a drastic turn, when at the age of 13, I discovered I was gay. Being a minority in the minority wasn't helpful towards accepting my sexuality. I didn’t feel like I belonged to my family, my culture or even to the French culture. I had a big issue in embracing my three identities: Tamil, French, Gay.
Then, there was this magical day in high school when I was introduced to Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Sartre was known for his work on Existentialism (a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice).
His perspective on freedom changed the meaning of life I had adapted from my traditional Tamil upbringing. Sartre calls it "Mauvaise foi" (bad faith). Bad faith is a philosophical concept utilized by Sartre to describe the phenomenon in which human beings, under pressure from social forces, adopt false values and disown their innate freedom, hence acting inauthentically. So, bad faith is believing that we have to lead our lives in certain ways (influenced by our culture, religion etc...) and shut our eyes to all other options. In my case, bad faith would be believing that the only way to lead a happy life is by marrying a girl as my society has told me or even thinking that liking a man is not "normal." Also, Sarte affirms that "Man is Condemned to Be Free," which means to avoid 'mauvaise foi' we are empowered with the possibility of choosing everything in our life, we are condemned because we are responsible for every choice we make.
While I was struggling to find the meaning of life, Sartre helped me understand that not accepting my sexuality is bad faith. He helped me to accept myself as a unique individual. According to him, I'm the only person who is responsible for my life and I'm not made (born) with any specific purpose in life, I'm here to create my own identity. Sartre's philosophy helped me claim my freedom from social norms (by avoiding bad faith). These concepts allowed me to get a balance in life and create my place.
Today, I'm a confident human being who proudly owns my identities, while keeping full control over my life, because I learned to understand that I don't have to replicate the lives my peers lead to feel Tamil or French or even gay. We all are unique and our life experiences may also be the same.
So, to all my peers out there, gay or straight, if you feel lost, it's normal. We are not made to look like each other, we create our own identity. And, the next time you are going through something you don't like remember that it's "mauvaise foi" (bad faith), you still have the choice to be free. So be free, and condemn yourself with freedom and enjoy your journey.