Photo Credit: Vivek Shraya
What was it like growing up?
I grew up in Whitby, a small white town in Ontario. At the time, few people of colour lived there, and queerness was invisible. It took many years to come into my queer South Asian identity.
How did you come out?
I came out to myself after meeting two South Asian lesbians at a lesbian music festival in 1993 (at the time, I’d gone there as a straight ally because I’d heard the music was good!). I couldn’t make the connection between queerness and South Asian-ness until I’d met people who identified this way. Soon after I came out to my family, and I’ve been out to the entire family for almost 20 years. I’ve received a variety of reactions—awkwardness, concern, ignorance, support, celebration.
What has been your inspiration in life?
Writing is a huge part of my life. I’m inspired to write about human experiences of marginalization and resilience. How do we become better people? How do we get over terrible mistakes and traumas? How do we re-imagine and change the world around us?
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
I’m very proud of my novels, and that I won a Lambda Award for Six Metres of Pavement in 2012. It took many years to get my first novel, Stealing Nasreen to publication in 2007, and I’m grateful to the writers and readers who support my work. I believe that a creative practice like writing has the ability to change the status quo, to deeply affect our perceptions of the world.
What is your message to the world?
I think the process of coming out is a unique one for each of us, guided by our own experiences and privileges in this world. There can be a lot of pressure to come out, or to come out in a certain way. Sometimes this pressure comes from the dominant straight world and sometimes the queer community likes to “police” us. It’s really important that each of us expresses our sexuality, gender identity and brownness in a way that is authentic to ourselves first.
Farzana Doctor is an award winning author and psychotherapist based in Toronto. For more information on Farzana check out her website at http://farzanadoctor.com