Homophobia and South Asian community in Canada

Homosexuality is not discussed much in South Asian cultures. Well, heterosexual sexuality is not discussed either so homosexuality which is considered abnormal is far from everyone’s mind. If you’ve read my previous posts, you would know I was 12 when I moved to Canada. It is here that I actually first learned about homosexuality. I know this makes me sound very ignorant but I did grow up in a small town. These topics were not discussed in good middle class homes. India does have Hijras (the transgendered/eunachs) but no explanation was given to me.  For the first time here, I realized that there were people who fell in love with another person of same sex.  It was weird to me and it took about a year for me to wrap my head around it. But, eventually, I came to accept it as normal and part of life. There were people who were different from me but they had the right to live a happy life. Sadly, not everyone from South Asian community comes to that understanding. I do think younger South Asian Canadians are more accepting. There are also older and wiser people who are  fine with it. Nevertheless, a silent majority still exists that is homophobic. Now, you won’t hear much about South Asians beating up any gay men or punishing a lesbian woman. Most of the older generation wouldn’t even recognize if you are gay unless you explicitly state it to them. Even then, they might just act awkwardly around you or avoid you.  But, they are quite intolerant when it comes to South Asian LGBT community. I feel it is much harder for a South Asian man/woman to come out of closet. Even if parents are accepting, the larger South Asian community isn’t. Again, the concept of izzat comes to play. You might lose izzat if your son marries another man. People might blame you for raising your son wrong. It is quite an awful thing. Now, I understand that these problems exist in the larger Canadian society as well. Sure, Canada is quite progressive when it comes to laws. But behind the thin veneer of politeness, there exists deep intolerance. The hope again lies with the young people. They are more accepting of people that are different from them. Although, even among young people, there is homophobia.  Hopefully, educating people helps with understanding. The western media is slowly doing a better job of portraying LGBT characters. My mom’s favorite talk show is Ellen and she doesn’t care about her sexuality. Progress!

I would love to hear from from people who experienced intolerance due to their sexuality. How did you overcome it? Please share your experiences as there are many young people who are being bullied and suffering  due to intolerance in their communities. Your views might help them and the broader community in accepting and dealing with homosexuality.

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5 thoughts on “Homophobia and South Asian community in Canada

  1. It’s not much different down here in USA. I came from a small town, too, and your observations were the same as mine growing up. Now I’m an older adult, and I see the changes over the past twenty years. People are far more tolerant. Hurrah!

  2. I have a friend who was born in India and but she grew up in Canada….

    She is 31 years old, and she told me that she suffered quite a bit from intolerance growing up in Canada.

    She says, “the people weren’t bigots toward my family and I, but the locals definitely treated us as though there was a type of separation between us”

    Being the only Indian girl in her high school, not one boy invited her to prom during her senior year….very sad 😦 (and she’s a very attractive young woman!)

  3. My experience on this was it’s okay for them to discuss about Homophobia and have a pride parade. And here’s the kicker, I use old English and when I ask people if they are happy I say “gay”. I happened to use the this in the sentence during a conversation about homophobia. We were all laughing and that is good. And I blurted out “Are you ‘gay’?”. That’s it! Two people are now mad as hell towards me. It’s not acceptable, blah, blah, blah. I felt so bad even I have profusely apologized, as far as they are concerned. I am wrong.
    This issue is all one sided. It’s all about them.

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