Fear of the Family: The Worries of a Closeted, South-Asian Bisexual

Fear of the Family: The Worries of a Closeted, South-Asian Bisexual

An essay on the worries of a closeted, South-Asian bisexual.

A year ago, I saw my cousin get married. We were so close growing up I’d honestly call her my sister. I was sitting in the Temple next to her other bridesmaids and watched her and her now-husband tie the knot in front of our friends and family. She wore a very traditional bridal gown, red lengha with heavy gold embellishments. Her hair and makeup was flawless, she had garlands of flowers around her neck and she looked utterly gorgeous.

Her now-husband stood proudly next to her, the two would exchange sneaky looks and glimpses of smiles. The whole time I sat there staring at her, I was expecting to feel emotional, overwhelming happiness for them, joy pouring out of my entire body. Instead, I felt dejected.

Sometimes it’s a double edged sword, when a moment is hyped up so astronomically, it can be everything you always expected, or when it finally comes, and you don’t feel how you expected, you feel like something must be wrong with you. 

I knew I was happy for them, they were perfect for each other and were going to be very happy. I suppose I felt so dejected, because, in that moment, as the two went from dating to husband and wife, I began to think about myself. I wondered, would I be here in the next few years, marrying my significant other, would I be smiling so bright or practically giddy with impatience. 

I don’t know, because, to be completely honest, I wasn’t sure who would be standing in front of me on my wedding day. If they would be a he, or a she, or a they.


Photo by Anna Shvets

I am a closeted bisexual, South Asian girl. I have been since I was 14 years old. Now at 25, a lot has changed and at the same time, nothing has changed. It’s hard to articulate into proper words, but in the best way I can think of, as a kid, I used to think of families as ‘manufactured’. 

Arranged marriages will do that to you. They felt corporate, and shiny. In-laws showing off their new business deal. Two people would fuse themselves together to create mini versions of themselves, and send them out in the world to do the same. Families get bigger, the cycle continues. 

Nowadays, that era has dissipated. My cousin was not arranged into her marriage, my sister chose her own partner. All the rest of my cousins have found their true love. Thing is, they’re all straight and it’s paid off for them. 

They don’t need to worry about cultural expectations and family disapproval. They did it correctly. They were born straight, found love in our culture and that’s that. Whereas I find myself looking at females in the same way I look at males, and so scared of what my family might think of me that I don’t even try going for either side.

I’m the odd one out, the one who doesn’t quite fit into the mould and is left outside. 

When the last of my cousins, who is younger than I, told the family he had been dating someone, I cried for hours. The feelings just poured out of me all at once. I was the last in my family to be single, all eyes were on me now to find someone and I was in fear of finding that person, and it not being who they want. What if they hated me for it, saw it as a betrayal to our culture and home. 

Even though I knew there was nothing wrong with me, being bisexual should be something I was proud of, but instead, it found a way to depress me. I felt guilty when I look at someone, because my main thought is wondering how my parents would react if I brought them home. I find myself thinking of loopholes to jump through so in the end everything will be ok. 

What if I found a partner who was in my same religion but wasn’t a man, would that be ok? Probably not. What if I found someone who was a man but not from my culture? That would actually probably make things a lot worse – from my parents perspective. 

Thinking of the future always made me feel uncomfortable, which is why I was feeling so dejected seeing my cousin marry. It forced me to think of the future – and that’s always a lot closer than you’d want it to be. And I was afraid of my family and what they would think if I was my true self to them. 

I found it a struggle to finish off my story. In a way, this story doesn’t really have an ending. You could argue it doesn’t even have a beginning. It’s just floating in limbo, waiting to sink or swim. I haven’t made the decision yet on what to do, but I do hope, if you’re reading these words, you make your decision faster than I have. Because, we don’t have a lot of time and it’s better to do something and regret it than never trying at all.


(he/him) Henry a previous Editor-in-Chief of Chapter Z magazine. He specialises in LGBTQ+, film and in-depth community/cultural features.

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