Voices From the Community: Are South Asian Closets Different?

You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit defensive or cloistered in myself in this post, because it’s hard putting yourself out. It’s a pretty uncomfortable position (like the back of a volkswagon).

About a year ago, I wrote about my participation in Upper Caste Supremacy (i.e. casteism). I want to continue this line of discussion (regardless of whether anyone else is interested) because I was encouraged to do so by a good friend whose judgement I trust on emotional matters. She suggested tying this analysis of neurosis to sexuality.

To be honest, I don’t really understand it, which is why I made this an open thread. I can put forward some simple possible hypothetical relationships. body = dirty = shame. sexuality = bodily desire x desire for other bodies = double shame. And there’s always Freud and Foucault and blah blah blah, but it’s…a bit theoretical. A basic question I’m struggling with is whether or not something as personal as sexuality and specifically neuroses associated can be really be taxonomized with any degree of certitude, let alone “from below”.

(haha, very funny, you think you’re so clever–we all thought that when we read that phrase).

And even if it can, how does it intersect with self? personality? gender? money? power? For example, I have a hard time believing that the intersection of gender and sexuality constructs “men” and “women” in ways that are the same in terms of how they approach sexuality in terms of fluidity / rigid categories - but I wonder to what extent this is a product of middle-class/rich American gender construction (the waters of the model minorities among us). At the same time, gender gets read into same-sex relationships too - bottom, top, butch, femme, etc. Hetero/homo/bi/queer sexuality? I was on a panel about sexuality at a middle-class ethnic conference in the U.S. a while back, and most of the people in the audience, really unsurprisingly, were hetero people who related very closely to the idea of being “different” from their parents’ expectations in terms of who they brought home. Not that I ever bring anyone home. And then there’s race - is the parental thing really a South Asian thing even among straight people? Even a White straight friend of mine once remarked to me that he thought it was a misfortune for straight people that they never HAVE to come out and mark a breaking point from their parents, with which I largely agree (about effects, anyway).

But the point being that this is all in need of a great deal of construction and deconstruction in order for it to be made sensible…which is a questionable goal to begin with. The complicatedness is really not that different from any other identity marker that’s so personal, so implicated with who you are that the very idea of becoming an object of your own analysis (let alone someone else’s) is frightening, gross, disempowering, or angering; what identit(ies) and what reactions you have depend, I guess on which ones are closest to home in your life experience, and the extent to which its socially and personally dealt with. For me, I think the difficulties are one of the reasons I’ve been able to contribute the LEAST titillating item on sexuality ever created in the history of the Internet, but it’s actually pretty humbling in a good way to remember your lessons in foucault.

And at least we’ll get entertaining spam :)

Anyway, if you are willing to open up and share stories in the comments, it would be a wonderful gift to all of us. And if not, well, I understand. I only just today got up the courage to ask a lovely family member, who’s um, prone to fits of voicing not-nice-and/or-stupid-things-about-the-queerfolk if she’ll come to my (hypothetical) same-sex wedding.

Believe me, I understand. Look at this post full of avoidance and obfuscation! And they ask why we use hifalutin words :)

Final word: enjoy your path to liberation :)

- from the blog, pass the roti

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