Many years ago, my parents helped me finally secure my own boyfriend, an Asian, Pakistani, Muslim American man. At first I wasn’t able to integrate into this relationship, as he was not in any way, shape or form like my parents. He had red hair, different eyes, wore glasses, had English as his first language, and had a completely different life. Over time he fit in, and our boyfriends have all been similar in their own way. Through being able to embrace all these different differences, through being able to talk about race and how we view the world, I hope that I have learnt to trust my boyfriends because I have learned to trust the world around me.
After the beginning of my new relationship, I felt like I was under a microscope. People would ask me questions about race. I would be asked, “Why do you like him more than him?” I was attacked for having a black boyfriend and I also was asked, “Why don’t you want to live in a white neighbourhood?” I had to defend my boyfriends for every decision they made, constantly having to explain how I see the world. In the time since that time, I have learned to be very confident in who I am.
I have a series of relationships now and only one stands out as the most tense of all of them. I don’t want to divulge too much about this relationship so please read at your own risk – there is personal information involved and I hope you have a safe read and feel safe to discuss at your own peril. The one thing I can say is that my boyfriend’s parents are “ignorant” and for some reason, I just can’t understand why it is such a big deal. They make it the biggest deal for me to feel “out of place”, “different” and somehow, they honestly, truly don’t care about any of this. Because they are so serious about getting their son into “a white neighborhood”, they still bring up our house. I live in a predominantly black area, so if I decided to rent in another black area and just move out of my boyfriend’s home, my parents would not be okay with that. Instead of being reassured, it is actually an embarrassment and an even bigger humiliation.
I try to be understanding and by doing this, by being different, I feel as though I am being judged and treated less than my fellow classmates. I understand that I am African American and sometimes being in the house causes me to get a little emotional, but I try to deal with it as best I can. I want to understand the reasons that my parents have misconceptions and what they think, but to this point, the way I feel is the only way that I can control this relationship.