In November 2014, the youngest of my older sisters got engaged. In December 2014, my middle older sister got engaged. Then in February 2015, my oldest sister got engaged. As of this writing, the elder two sisters had their weddings. The next one is in May. Even outside of my immediate family, I’ve been to three other weddings. I think six weddings in a year are a lot, but people have been telling me “you’re at that age.” People tell me to brace myself for all of my friends tying the knot. But what people didn’t tell me was how weird I’d feel about it all.
Sometimes, when I sit in the audience, I wonder what my own wedding will be like. Then I wonder if I even want to get married. Have I been socialized to think that’s the end goal? The voices of the many people who claim ‘marriage equality is a form of heteronormativity’ ring in my brain. It’s an odd feeling–confronting yourself about what you want and what you don’t want. It makes your heart heavy, and your stomach twisty. When it comes to relationships, what do I even want? Is it okay to want what everyone else has?
This past weekend, I looked at my middle sister’s wedding photos and some videos my uncle filmed. Yeah, I thought about what it would be like to be the center of attention. Having a fun, creative first dance? People making speeches in my honor? Finding the perfect song to walk down the aisle to? Would I even walk down the aisle? Could I? In a traditional Hindu wedding, the wedding is hosted at the bride’s house, and the groom would come on a horse to her street, called a baaraat. Nowadays, the groom’s side still does that, except they’ll walk around a hotel parking lot or something. Could I have a baaraat and walk down the aisle?
People say weddings should be tailored to the bride and groom, or however, the wedded couple wants to identify. But that feels like a joke to me, coming from a large family. There are expectations that should be met or traditions that could be followed. There hasn’t been an LGBTQIA+ wedding in my family yet, and navigating those waters terrifies me. Maybe some family members, immediate or otherwise, might not want me to do both. I want to honor my heritage and respect my family. But I might want to defy my heritage and shock my family.
This paradox comes into play a lot in the life of an American born person with Indian heritage (and I imagine any individual born to immigrant parents). There is a push and pull between two opposing cultures, two conflicting desires, and two disparate identities. All of this is exacerbated by my identity as a homosexual guy because it’s a third identity to throw into the mix. Sure, I cherish my uniqueness and enjoy thinking about this stuff. At the same time, it’s not always easy. Weddings, they say, bring out the best and the worst in people. And they bring out the best and the worst in culture clashes as well.
I am positive that all of these issues will iron themselves out once the time comes. I am definitely putting the horse before the cart when it comes to my own wedding. I’m as close to my wedding as I am to Jupiter. It never hurts to prepare me for what might come in the future. And as my immediate family celebrates its third wedding this spring, it’ll be fun to see if I get any closer to figuring out what I want in my life.