Op-Ed: The Struggles of Being You

By Vishnu Autar | | Contributing Writer

Let’s step away from being a part of the LGBTQ+ community for a second. I hear all the stories about coming out, conversion therapy, homophobia, hate crimes, etc.  From being almost killed in middle school, to sexual assault, to my first try at coming out to my mom which ended up turning into a Christian sermon,  I can confidently say that I went through enough to say I went through it all; however, what is the point of talking about that part of my history and letting it be a determining factor of who I am?

Yes, I may like men, but I do not have that on my mind at the moment. Honestly, I’m not even looking. I am not saying that me being a part of the LGBTQ community is unimportant, but rather that I prefer a milder approach to expressing myself… and that doesn’t include having to discuss my personal matters of what I like and don’t like.

I have been told that I am not as prideful and supportive of the LGBTQ movement as I should be. But what I am prideful of is my religion, education, and support for global humanitarian issues. That’s me.

I am Vishnu, not Gay Vishnu, not Gay West Indian 18-year-old College Student From New Jersey Vishnu, just simply Vishnu. Constant labels and specificities take away from individuals trying to be themselves. I think that it is fair to say that although I’m a part of the LGBTQ community, I don’t need to dedicate my soul to being extraverted in this movement.

While I am coming from a Caribbean household that is notorious for not being gay friendly, I don’t think it’s totally fair to blame all my hardships on my home structure. Yes, my parents are a little iffy on the topic, but many fail to discuss the major base of homophobia in third-world countries today, specifically in the Caribbean region. Simply colonialism. While western societies pride themselves on the safe environment offered for the LGBTQ+ community, it excludes other countries and slanders them for their homophobia. This is done without understanding how colonialism has destroyed culture and the structure of these third world countries, such as where I am from. While homophobia is inexcusable, it isn’t fair to just disregard how colonialism stunted their ability to progress toward a more inclusive environment for all. Until two years ago, I was so prideful of being gay to my close friends and peers, that I blamed my heritage and parents for the homophobia and violence I faced. I later came to realize that I was incorrect. I severely disrespected my heritage, parents, and values that I hold dear to me, such as being a good person and understanding perspectives from all angles. 

Balancing the western ideals of the LGBTQ+ community and Caribbean ideals of homosexuality led me to very different stereotypes, labels, and boxes that confused me even more. This is precisely why I don’t like to deal with these types of matters: it makes it more difficult to find comfort in myself when I have to find a different label wherever I go, when I’m home in New Jersey or back in my home country of Guyana.

Individuals shouldn’t have to be associated with a movement if they don’t want to be. This does not mean that those not dedicated to the movement aren’t supportive, it’s just not something they’re passionate about. All in all, I may be gay, but respectfully, I don’t need the label. Call me Vishnu.

First-year Vishnu Autar is a Contributing Writer. His email is vautar@fandm.edu.

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