A Field of Dreams
“It’s an obligation” says my father before we visit my grandparents; a practice that has become a ritualized part of every weekend and one that I have been observing for the past 22 years.
What I will say now may sound like an indictment of my Indian grandparents, but that would be a falsehood. The love that I have for my grandparents runs deep, but going there every weekend means contemporaneously confronting a compulsory heterosexuality that is often peppered with patriarchal values. They inhabit a certain model minority complex that disavows them an opportunity to search for a technicolor world that isn’t so black and white.
To really understand our relationship though is to understand what I mean by an idiomatic phrase I have appropriated from the baseball field for my own sanity: “three strikes and you’re out!” I digress here for a moment to explain what I mean with any and all puns intended.
My Indian grandparents arrived in the U.S. in the late 1960s and had hopes for their children including inter alia, finding a good job, marrying a respectable Indian woman, and living a secure life. My father almost managed to hit a homerun but struck out before doing so by marrying a white woman from a conservative middle class Catholic family. His brother, my uncle, also almost managed to hit a homerun but struck out by not marrying any woman and remaining a 50 year-old bachelor in California working a decent job in the tech industry.
I am next up to bat and have already accepted the third and final strike as a gay biracial Indian-American man reluctant to marry a woman at all. All bets are still on me though to traverse the bases of marrying a respectable woman (according to my grandparents it could be absolutely any woman at all at this point), finding a decent job, and having a stable and secure life. But, unbeknownst to my own grandparents, I am way too queer for any base or binary.
Instead, I’d rather not play their game at all, running around the bases to slide into a subjectivity that isn’t even mine. Being a biracial Indian-American gay man means feeling caught in-between the bases, in an interstitial space of freedom and limitation. It means always feeling like a player but never quite part of any official team. Being a biracial Indian-American same-sex gender loving man means constantly having to figure out how to make my own identity a more legible subjectivity.
Though visiting my Indian grandparents every weekend cultivates an intergenerational space furnished with the potential for cultural transmission, the concept of a gay gender non-conforming biracial cis subject is always somehow lost in translation. Recognizing the privilege and the sort of social and cultural capital I have though to live an authentic life beyond the parameters of my grandparent’s own lived-in world means realizing the inability of many others to do so.
Though I have not yet “come out” to my Indian grandparents, a process that will also require them to eventually “come in,” I have been fortunate to realize at this point that I am okay with striking out because I know that by packing up my stuff and leaving their field of dreams I will have somehow magically managed to hit my own homerun.