How LGBTQ+ members of the South Asian diaspora navigate stigma and stress

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12/29/2020

When Gurleen Kaur came out as queer to her friends three years ago, she was all too familiar with her family’s expectations—that she marry a man someday. That was still a possibility for the 27-year-old, which would likely then lead to the full-package large celebration with all her friends and family present. But Kaur also knew she would likely not get any of that fanfare if she married a woman. Dressed in a black tank top and with her long, curly hair partly tied in a bun, Kaur said she was aware of an entirely different future just steps away if she ended up with a man. “This just led to chaos in my brain,” she said. “It messed me up for a little bit.” Kaur, a second-generation immigrant whose family moved to California from Chandigarh in the 1980s, came out to her mother later that year, who then told Kaur’s father and grandparents. While one of her grandmothers is yet to acknowledge her queer identity, the other regularly lists all of the reasons why she should marry a man. “It’s objectively hard to hear all this. I feel like there’s a doomsday around the corner,” she said, referring to her future wedding day. But the struggle doesn’t end there.

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