Fareen Azeem

Sun Feb 14 2021 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

44241FAz

If you asked me how I was 7.5 years ago, I would tell you the same thing I am saying now. I am happy, grateful, and blessed but the one big difference was that I didn’t have the love of my life by my side. Before I met Kristine, I was hiding a huge part of myself and struggled internally for years.

My first ‘girl crush’ was when I was around 14. I wanted to be best friends with certain girls at my school but never understood why I had this intense magnetic attraction towards them. I hid this part of me for years until October 2010, when I came out to my mom. I remember her saying, ‘it’s okay. I love her too. We all love her. She is your best friend. Don’t worry.’

‘No, Ammu. I love her like you love Abbu.’ Tears began to flow and my mom told me that I was going to kill them with this and that I’d go to hell. My dad didn’t know at the time and soon after, I moved out of my parent’s house to live in the city. I had started a new job and it was time for me to be more independent.

I ended up breaking up with the girl I mentioned to my mom. (She is a great friend now!) I promised myself that I would try to date men and see if I could make my parents happy. Of course, this was unfair to any guy I dated because I was always attracted to women.

A few years later, I came across Kristine’s profile on a dating website. She was perfect— beautiful, witty, smart, and well-traveled. She loves hot sauce, though I later found out that her level of spice tolerance was Frank’s Hot Sauce. (This has changed, and she can now bite into a green chili pepper like a champ.) I messaged her immediately and our first date was on September 5th, 2013. Everything was exciting with her. She ignited this spark inside of me that I never felt with anyone else.

After about a year of dating, we decided to move in together. It was time for me to come out to my mom once again and now my dad. I was terrified but knew that I had to put my happiness first. After telling my mom about Kristine, she just continued to cook dinner and said ‘I can’t keep this a secret anymore. You have to tell your dad.’

I remember being so nervous. My parents sacrificed everything for my sister and me and I didn’t want to disappoint them. My sister pushed me to just DO IT. When my dad came home, she yelled for him to come upstairs because I had something to tell him. I was pacing back and forth. Finally, I blurted it out, ‘Abbu, I’m gay.’ He hugged me tightly and said, ‘everything will be okay. People will say things, but we are all together and that is all that matters. We will figure it out together.’ What a relief that was.

Even with my parents knowing, I still hadn’t come out to the world. I was used to living my secret life. I had a strong support system but never thought I’d be able to live freely and openly.
I knew Kristine and I would have an incredible life together but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine having a big, fat, Bengali wedding with most of my family and all my parents’ friends supporting our love. We got married in September 2019 and it was magic.

I know I’m extremely lucky but I realized something years later—advice I wish I could have given to my younger self, advice I want to share with those of you struggling with your identity in our community.

Choose happiness. You are not alone. If you think that no one will understand you, remember this: those that love you will and will always be there for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovebirds out there. Cheers to love. <3

Love, Family, Valentine's Day, LGBTQ+