Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
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Mandy Randhawa is the fifth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2014. She is the Event Producer at Flygirl Productions, one of North America’s leading lesbian event organizers.
Occupation: Event Producer at Flygirl Productions
I grew up in an affluent Sikh household with parents who valued social status and “what would people say” more than anything else. My actions or inactions would either add or delete from the family standing in society.
I always questioned the status quo, especially the treatment of girls and women, which soon made my parents view me as the troublemaker and as someone that needed more controlling.
I felt I never belonged in India and often felt infuriated by the treatment of women, yet helpless to be able to make a change. I often felt alone in questioning the world around me as everyone else seemed blind to what I was seeing and feeling.
Everything in my being made sense when I immigrated to Canada at 13. All of a sudden I found myself in a world where it was ok to be an individual and express myself.
I was 18 when I came out to myself. I never questioned it. It was like, huh… this feels absolutely right. So right that there is nothing to question about it. I lost a couple of friends, but I never seemed to struggle with it.
I had some deeper sense within me that knew that nothing could be done to change this and everything was ok as it was. My struggle came with my parents for 10 years who refused to believe I was gay. They thought it was a phase and that it would change.
When it didn’t, they resorted to persistent unkind words at which point I made the hard decision to cut ties with them. Their shame of me and my life was not my burden and I choose not to be defined by their shame.
While I was waiting to be unconditionally loved and accepted by my parents, my life was passing by. I looked around and realised that I already had love and unconditional acceptance in my life. It came from my partner, friends and extended community so I decided to cherish and enjoy what I had and leave behind what I couldn’t change.
Life has a way of surprising you. My brother recently reached out and it’s been great to slowly build a mutually respectful and accepting relationship with him.
Moving through this world as my truest self, proud and having created a life with my partner, friends and community that nourishes me and our community. I absolutely love my work, Flygirl Productions.
I get to create events and inclusive spaces that foster a sense of community, acceptance, pride and fun for all members of our community. It amazes me that all I had to go by was a niggling little feeling in my gut even as a child that pushed me to question the status quo and it wouldn’t let go until it created exactly what it was seeking.
If you were to ask me my lessons, I’d say, we have one precious life to live, be proud of who you are. You are perfect just as you are. Reach out for help and surround yourself with people that cherish and nourish you AND never forget to have fun!
– MANDY RANDHAWA