Caught Between Two Stools: Life Of An Indian-American Gay Man

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.  

Biracial, Indian- Americab gay man. LGBT, India, USA, FSOG, 50 shades of gay, Aleksandr Chandra, LGBTQIA, campaign, shubham mehrotra, founder

Alek lounging in a hammock with his grandfather in Connecticut, US.

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.

Biracial, Indian- Americab gay man. LGBT, India, USA, FSOG, 50 shades of gay, Aleksandr Chandra, LGBTQIA, campaign, shubham mehrotra, founder, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, LGBTQ

Alek sitting with his grandmother during his first trip to India in 2014.

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.

Biracial, Indian- Americab gay man. LGBT, India, USA, FSOG, 50 shades of gay, Aleksandr Chandra, LGBTQIA, campaign, shubham mehrotra, founder, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, LGBTQ

Alek with his family at Walt Disney World in 2008.

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.

Written by Aleksandr Chandra

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