*GULP* This has been a long time coming 🙏😭!
Growing up (knowing I was gay and Indian 👬) when I looked around me, I had no role models to speak of. From the serious stuff such as wondering would I ever be happy to the fun stuff such as am I allowed to rework Mum's amazing sari material into a kickass shirt (way before these started being sold at markets in East London, just saying). I mean sure, there was Syed Masood in Eastenders (which for those that don't know, was a car crash storyline). Apart from that, I can only remember the hijras shown in Bollywood movies - and they were caricatures with no depth or emotion. Where were the guys like me who found their path and were able to lead a full life? A colourfull life 🌈?
I won't mince my words - growing up was tough. I have successfully completed the checklists of being teased/bullied, a smatter of homophobic violence and generally being made to feel different, that I didn't belong. So tough, that I spent much of my life closeted to my family (until my early 30s). It was isolating, living a secret life and not being able to share the pain and joy that I experienced of a first kiss, a first love and heartbreak. Not being able to imagine what kind of life I would lead or have access to. Believing that I would end up alone, as no-one would want me - my difference was a barrier. So I put my head down and worked my ass off to prepare for unwelcome, yet inevitable independence - which I'd imagined would be the day I told my family I was gay - after which they would disown me, reject me and I'd be all alone.
I came out and survived (with the love of my family and friends still intact) 💖💖. Hell, I even thrived. To this day, I recognise how lucky I am because this isn't everyone's reality. Yet I continued to have this nagging feeling. Where were the inspirational stories? How did other people manage the nuances of sexuality, race and culture? Where were all the LGBTQ people of colour and their (wonderful) tales? So I decided to find them and colourfull was born.
colourfull is simply a channel for hope and inspiration, specifically for the LGBTQ community of colour. By sharing the amazing stories of these brilliant people, we can learn from their experiences, their words of wisdom and how they navigated their identity given all the factors at play (trust me, I've used all the excuses to explain why I was't ready to get married!). Having made it through to the other side, I wanted to do something positive for our community; hopeful that for someone, somewhere this makes a difference . I'm not so naive to think that this will change everything, and I'm aware that for some, coming out can place them at significant risk. So see these stories as the equivalent of a warm hug with a dose of helpful advice.
I've had some challenge on the phrase 'people/community of colour'. Like it's some BAD thing. It's an umbrella term that isn't here to erase the differences that exist within this section of society. In fact, it's to remind us that together, we stand stronger and we often have more in common than we think based on our experiences. Take, for example, our parent's international obsession with getting us married, or the unapologetic, undimmed desire for us to procreate and bear grandchildren. Some truths span across race and culture, and it's here where I want to focus my energy 👏.
So why the name colourfull? Firstly, this is about people of colour - and to celebrate them and the rich spectrum and shades of colour we have in our community. And full, to remind us that we have every right to lead a full, fabulous life, and that by being different in some way does not mean that we are 'less than' or incomplete. Fuck that ✊✊✊!
So my hope is you'll enjoy these stories, and that the words remind us to live our best, most colourfull life, however that takes shape.