A letter to my future boyfriend (The Independent)

  • Vishal Gaikwad
Dear future boyfriend,
Let me first introduce myself. I’m Vish - a myopic, Asian gay guy with a messy fringe. And it's nice to meet you – well, whenever I actually do, that is. I know some people would find it strange that I’m writing to someone they’ve never meet or who may not even exist. But hey, what do I have to lose?
I blame this lovey-dovey festive season for making me put hand to keyboard. I’m currently a sentimental mess, where a mere glance at a gingerbread nativity scene will leave me teary-eyed. There’s just something about this time of year that forces me to reflect on the past, present and future, and query what’s fundamentally important.
Things got pretty heavy for me a few years ago. My traditional Indian parents were in a frenzy to get me married off to a good Indian girl. They refused to acknowledge my sexuality and I was too scared to talk about it much, living in fear of their rejection. I tried to reach out to them by dropping hints, but they turned a blind eye.
My need to please everyone got the better of me and I got engaged to a girl I barely knew. The wedding never happened. I came out in the end with shattered expectations – and, indeed, shattered hearts - everywhere. The whole ordeal left me numb, but I did see light at the end of the tunnel. I saw you.
I couldn’t marry someone else, bury my sexuality and throw away the possibility – no matter how small - of one day meeting you. I couldn’t give up on holding your hand, seeing your smile, feeling your warmth.
During my teens, I longed for a high school boyfriend just like my female peers or the pretty white girls I saw in teen rom-coms. However, I quickly released that there wasn’t a blueprint for someone who looked like me. I was nothing more to most boys I went to school with than a few homophobic asides and jokes about my “girly” mannerisms or my high-pitched voice. You could say my confidence took several hits.
Thankfully, it wasn't all teen angst and insecurities. I found solace in TV, particularly in hyper teen drama Dawson’s Creek. I was infatuated with jack, the Creek’s resident gay teen. He was hauntingly beautiful and his vulnerability was identifiable to me. I’d regularly visit his online fan page and participate in forum discussions on what shade of blue his eyes were. Tragic, I know.
It’s been a long road to rebuilding my life after the collapse of my arranged marriage, and the quest to find love out of the closet has been challenging to say the least. I’ve used dating apps, where I rarely get responses from my countless messages. I’ve ventured out on the gay scene, which is great fun - but people tend to stick to their own cliques. There’s still a lot to learn, even about the community I’m now a part of.
My experiences have left me closed off and guarded – but slowly, I’ve started to become more confident with expressing my authentic self. What is my authentic self? Well, it’s a version of me that expresses vulnerability, and unashamedly expresses it. It’s a version that is proud of my upbringing and my background, but can’t allow myself to be stifled or repressed by it. And it’s a version that remembers the homophobic comments, but doesn’t dwell on them.
It’s been a long road, but I can’t wait to meet you.