Being a Gay Sikh male while growing up in New York City, you come across various obstacles and struggles relating to your sexual identity. Personally, I was always made to feel less than. Bullied for my appearance, my walk, my voice and what I represented. Many don’t realize that homophobia begins at home and for me it was no different. Being a little kid, I always remembered the adults and older cousins in my family poke jokes about queer people. From a young age, my parents annually had me attend Summer Gurmat Camps at the Gurdwara or Camp Chardi Kala. I always found it ironic, that I was sent there to learn about my religion which teaches love, equality, truth and resilience but was always made fun of by the other kids at the camp because I was different.
As I got older, it became harder and harder for me to be true to myself. I was dating girls not because I was attracted to them but because that is what society wanted me to do. For the first time in my life I was approached by a young man when I became a senior in high school who ended up being my first boyfriend. That relationship taught me a lot about myself, my truth, my authenticity and gave me the strength to be liberated. Once I went to college I exposed myself as much as I could to the gay culture in NYC.
Making close gay friends and having support from close family and friends, I was able to come out to my single mom. That was the best day of my life. I felt so free, like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. It hasn’t been easy for my mom to get accustomed to because of her traditional orthodox views but I would be lying if I said she wasn’t trying. Today, I am 27 years old working in my line of work where I get to help other LGBTQ+ people. I am a Healthcare Administrator for the Center for AIDS Research and Treatment in New York. We work tirelessly to provide services to those living with HIV/AIDS within the tri state area.
Traditional Sikhs believe the only way for the lineage to extend for generations to come is when a man and a woman wed in a holy matrimony. Their minds are too narrow minded to conceptualize the modern ways that gay couples can create a family. I was discriminated and marginalized against just to fit a norm that is continuously a hot topic in this country. Sikh society and culture have already foreshadowed what is expected of you. It took years of individual internalization for me to understand that I am no different. It has most definitely been a hefty process to get to the point of self-discovery and liberation. I’ve come to love myself and understand that I’m unique in my own way, an aesthetic that grabs the attention of a cis man or woman.
I hope my personal journey brings light and happiness to those who may feel unwanted or confused right now. Individuals will always try and bring you down or make a mockery of what you represent but that is ignorance. Don’t ever let that dim your light! In these current times it is important more than ever to help spread awareness. Always remember to be yourself and love who you want to love without any approval of others! So I ask all my Sikh brothers and sisters to unite in spreading awareness along with standing up in support of the LGBTQ family!