On Being Queer in a Non-Western Country

the mouse that roared's picture

So, um, I'm abroad in India this year, having decided I'd like to see the world despite maybe not all of my identity fitting in with a traditional Indian mindset. And, well, I'm glad I've gone abroad to a place so different from my own culture, but it's hard because I'm closeted here (living in a small, traditional city in Banaras), at least to the Indians surrounding me, and the more I try to be a Good Hindustani Girl the more conflict I feel inside me, because there is a recent part of me that wasn't expecting to marry an Indian man, pop out babies, and make chapati for the rest of my life. Sure, I am going back home in three months, and my family luckily accepts me in whatever permutations of identity I have, and I'm not even ethnically Indian, but it has been challenging for me nonetheless. I imagine those who live here longer or who have grown up here experience this more intensely than I, and those who live in other very gender-roled, heteronormative cultures feel this too. Want to talk? Here's the place.

patnelsonchilds's picture

Mouse!

It's wonderful to see you again. Gaining new experience and perspectives is always a good thing. Even when it's difficult in the short run, it always has great value later on. Everyone should immerse themselves in another culture at least once. I loved my time living in Prague, which at the time, was much less westernized than it has become over the past six years. Living just down the street from a group of old soviet style blockhouses that the owners had tried vainly to beautify by painting them with bright colors really gave me a sense of what a challenge the people there were still going through trying to adjust after a generation of oppression. As a tourist, I just would not have gotten the same understanding. Kudos for having the courage to step so far outside your comfort zone.

*hug*

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- Pat Nelson Childs
"bringing strong gay & lesbian characters to Sci-Fi & Fantasy"

jeff's picture

Hmm...

I actually had interesting experiences being out when I traveled around Thailand in the past. The locals took a while to warm up and realize they could ask me anything, and even when they did it was usually very gender-roled thoughts of who in a gay relationship is the man and the woman, etc., but I figured it was good to have that conversation, since it made it all less mysterious. Most of my conversations were with a woman in her 30s and a guy that just turned 19 or 20. He seemed a bit too eager to ask stuff, even more when she walked away for a bit. We even tried to get together a week or so later when we'd both be back in Bangkok, but it didn't happen. I have to think he was closeted, though, and that my lack of concern about talking about it may have helped him. That is the other side of the equation, though... if you're leaving soon anyway... who cares?

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"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are." - Kurt Cobain