One foot in each world.

Over the past year and a half, a lot has happened in regards to LGBT rights in the United States. Namely that same-sex marriage was federally legalized. However, there are new challenges that have come up. Specifically in regards to Transpeople and a seemingly new wave of violence against LGBT. I myself, while being gay, tend to be politically moderate and stay out of queer identify politics and act mostly as an observer. In doing that, I realized something about myself.

As a gay man who is also Hindu, I occupy a strange place. While I exist and navigate both worlds, a part of me knows that I may not fully be “a part of” each community either.

Let me go further into detail.

On the gay side, there is a lot of confusion as to why someone who is gay would ever believe in God or belong to a religious community. There is a lot of hurt that LGBT people have faced from religion, and in the US, non-Abrahamic religions aren’t really well known; or there are a lot of misconceptions about them. It doesn’t matter that I don’t believe in hell, or that Devi/God thinks I’m evil. Religion is still religion and religion hates LGBT. Furthermore, since I don’t show off my sexuality or wear it on my sleeve, I’ve been called “self-hating” who “wants to go back in the closet” and “live a life of heteronormative privilege” (whatever that is). When Hinduism is talked about, more often times than not it is seen as a very conservative faith that doesn’t celebrate sexuality (and in a lot cases that is kind of true).

On the flipside, I can never really be “open” in the Hindu world. I know that there are many opened minded Hindus, and that temple isn’t really a place for “showing off” ones personal life, but it would be amazing to bring my future husband and not have it be a general issue. Or, even better, to have a big, stereotypical South Indian wedding in a big temple with all of the traditional pomp and circumstance. Of course, such weddings exist, but they are still met with contention from a lot of people. Even the reaction to my friend’s viral engagment was generally mixed.

In this, I find myself occupying a kind of limbo. Almost like a representative for both sides when the circumstance calls for it. On the LGBT side it’s to show that, even though I’m fairly religious, that I’m not some self-hating homophobe who worships snakes or cows. On the Hindu side, for those who know I’m gay anyway, it’s to show that I’m not an evil person who is out to “destroy Hindu culture” or only engages in “illicit relations”.

Yet, at the same time, I only really have one foot in each world. I don’t need affirmation in either my sexuality or faith, but they are still a part of my being and while I have no internal issue with either, trying to navigate through both communities can be uneventful at best or daunting at worst. In a way, perhaps it’s a blessing and not so much a curse. I know where I stand and am building a strong foundation which doesn’t need constant adulation from others (the irony of making this post not being lost on me).

I know who I am and that’s all one can really ask for.