One Final Conversation
Writing a letter to you only partially fulfills the single wish that I have been holding onto for the past ten years of my life: the desire for just one final conversation with you. If I had known you would suddenly get into a bicycle accident and pass away ten years ago, I would have initiated the conversation long beforehand. I would have asked so many questions at the age of 13, when you came out to me and said, “Yes, it is true, I am gay. But I love your mother very much and we plan on staying together. And if you could, please let us keep this between us.” Yet after those brief words, we never spoke about it again. Your closet became my closet, mom’s closet, our family closet. You were goofy, joyful, exhilarating to laugh and smile with. Yet you felt distant, mysterious, emotionally unapproachable when it came to the deeper stuff of life. I knew beneath the stoic veneer you harbored so much of your own pain, sensitivity and heartbreak. I admire your resilience and wish I could have learned the lessons of life from you as I try to battle this painful world, now, as an advocate on your and our behalf.
I can’t imagine what it was like to be you, growing up India where the word “gay” was never known, then immigrating to America to discover that what you had felt all your life in fact had a label called “homosexuality”. By then, perhaps you felt it was too late. You and Mom had made your vows into a heterosexual marriage, as all the generations before you have been expected to do thanks to Indian social norms. You broke Mom’s heart; that I know. Yet your love for one another survived that heartbreak; that I know as well. Somehow your love transcended heartbreak, sexuality, secrets, betrayal, mistrust, and rage. Somehow you learned to share your secrets with each other, rebuild trust and integrity with one another, and maintain a profound loyalty that surpassed the tests of time, biology, and society.
I admire the two of you. But I wish I was not made to carry your secret. I feel relief at letting it go, coming out of your closet, and dedicating myself to a life of authenticity. I used to wonder if you were being inauthentic, by choosing to uphold the secrecy of the closet to the outside world beyond our family. But now I know that it was not exactly a choice: you were just trying to survive--to help all of us survive. As an immigrant from India, where homosexuality is still a criminal offense, you needed that closet to survive. But oh, how I wish you didn’t have to hide who you were to live in this world. I wish I could have told you I would stand by your side and fearlessly fight for your liberation from that closet of shame. I wish Mom did not have to hide her beautiful, admirable mixed-orientation marriage out of shame, risking ostracism, judgment, and rejection from the narrow-minded world around her if she chose authenticity. I wish both of you could feel seen, valued, and loved by the world at large in the entirety of your beings... as who each of you were individually, as well as together as a couple whose love defies categorization.
You need to know that I love you and see you for who you are in your entirety. I respect you and admire you for your courage and integrity. I am dedicating my life to ensuring that the world can be a more accepting, compassionate, joyful place than the society which you grew up in and which caused you pain during your lifetime. I can already see the tides changing. I have faith that you can see it too, from wherever you may be. That you can see the world transforming into something more beautiful, and that you can see yourself as an incredibly beautiful part of a better world. You can rest assured that I will honor your memory, your beauty, your integrity, every single day in this evolving world of ours. I miss you.