It’s Toronto’s first official Pride MONTH! Yes – A full month of celebrating the LGBTQ community! I cannot begin to express how excited I am for all the events that Pride Toronto has worked on planning throughout the year. It will definitely be a good time for all!
Middle and high school were equally as homophobic for me. I went to schools with a large population of South Asian students. These kids I tell ya… brutal. I would be called a khusra or faggot at least once a day. If this wasn’t bad enough, I started to become more feminine presenting after high school and these words started being used at home. I’ve had family members call me a khusra before. Khusra is the Punjabi word for Hijra (third-gendered
individuals in South Asia). In South Asia this is an insult used on men who are feminine in any nature, and has a negative connotation; it’s similar to calling someone ‘gay’. I’ve screamed at family members in the past for calling me a khusra and they would laugh because it meant nothing to them. To a gay man who is unable to come out to his religious family, it is a lot more than an attempt at an insult. It was a constant reminder that if I chose to came out, I would be disowned. In the culture that my parents were raised in the family’s honor came first. To disobey the religion that was tied to this culture would tarnish the family name and the person would not be associated with any longer. I’ve seen it happen with several family members in Pakistan. My parents inherited these teachings as soon as they started a family. It was their duty to lead their children on to the ‘right path’, hence the religion classes at such a young age. I knew by my late teens that coming out to them would not be an option.
Growing up, I didn’t have a gay-desi role model. I didn’t think it was going to get better, and honestly, if I wasn’t such a positive person, it wouldn’t have. This is why representation of minorities and ethnic groups is SO important within gay communities. Everyone needs someone to look up to. However, because the default representation of queerness is ingrained in whiteness, queer people of colour are severely isolated. Look around us. When was the last time you saw a queer image that wasn’t attached to a smooth, twinky white body or a muscular white jock? We’re not hating on white people, but there’s a reason why queerness is defined through images of whiteness. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: RuPaul is still one of the few racialized queer figures we have.
Almost 30 years after his big break in the 1990s. 30 YEARS. I mean, sure we have Todrick Hall, and a few others but representations of queerness are still dominated by people who look, act and embody people like Tyler Oakley, Troye Sivan, and many other white queer people. How many queer people do we have that look like me or Humza? Or an indigenous person? or a black person?