I am an Occasional Show People

THERE’S SOMETHING about being the son of an Asian man in Britain that makes me feel a bit odd. It’s entirely unlike being the son of my non-Asian non-white partner and vice versa. We are different.

I do not come from a working-class background. I do not have very much to say about poverty. My subject, my experience, is culture, about eating, drinking, wearing and living.

I am an Occasional Show People. I have little interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, for example, at school and university, and my general education is based around self-denial.

I am an occasional shopper, and buy only a little bit of everything on sale. I never eat out. Sometimes I pick up a bit of exercise. We have never had pets. Neither of us is a gym-goer.

I have never heard of or paid much attention to “the gay thing”. I don’t think “homophobia” exists. When I do meet someone gay, I don’t try to make a big deal of it, because I am not homophobic.

I’ve never watched TV about the gay thing. Some things are better left unsaid. There’s probably some reason why. I don’t know.

I don’t think of the LGBT community as my people, and we don’t really speak the same language. I don’t feel an implicit connection with gay pride marches, nor do I feel a feeling of solidarity with gay equality.

I don’t feel a connection with working-class LGBT groups either. I don’t see them as “my people”. I don’t know if they have “lost touch” with the straight society that is snobbish about them.

I don’t understand why people who are keen to distance themselves from my culture have never walked into my house, done my washing, washed up in my kitchen sink, or had a look around me, because I know that they’re right next door. I don’t even really talk to them.

I do not have the vocabulary to discuss those things – so I don’t.

Being bisexual or lesbian doesn’t explain away my dual sexuality, either.

As to why I never go on theme park rides, what with my inability to talk about the gay thing, and being told I will never be able to “belong” to any club that is fully inclusive, I simply can’t tell you.

I am very specific about the girls I go out with – you just can’t go out with the lads if you’re a lesbian.

As a child, I was given a traditional Chinese name (which, for the avoidance of being labelled homosexual, I will never use), and I have been made to feel in some way that I’m not quite “belonging”. That being diverse is somehow being naughty or unlovable.

I am Indian. I am not British. I am not White. I am an Occasional Show People. I am different.

It’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable with the notion of cultural inclusivity. And it should be.

But I have learned from trying that the safest thing is to call it “being different” – to accept it and adjust to it.

Because being a “different” is good for you. It’s good for everyone.

Leave a Comment