Photo Credit: Adam Dickson
What was it like growing up?
I was born and raised in Burnaby BC. The youngest of three children, and the only boy in an Indian, Christian family, my position within the family would prove to be fraught with great expectations. My father is from Fiji and my mother is from Trinidad. Both of Indian descent, they moved to Canada in the late 60’s. My father is a minister in the Christian Pentecostal Church and my mother worked in a hospital in Vancouver for 35 years.
The church and Christian faith were the focus and backbone of my immediate family and most of my extended family. I loved going to church and participating in all the musical and artistic aspects of the service. It was in church that I developed a love for theology. At home, with the influence of my parents, I found a life-long relationship with God.
How did you come out?
I think that everyone born in this world goes through some sort of coming out process. I believe it is a great, grand journey that we are all consistently traveling and exploring.
My specific intentional act of coming out to my family as a gay Christian man was revealed in a 7 page letter I wrote at the age of 26. I admitted to my parent’s that I was gay when I was 19 and they sent me for counselling for about 2 years, which proved to be the best gift they could have given to me. I then had the courage to come out to my parents and sisters through the letter which ended with an invitation to meet and discuss the letter’s contents.
What has been your inspiration in life?
As a singer I find musical expression to be a great inspiration in my life. I’m sure that many people are moved by music as I am because it transcends all kinds of borders and finds a way into the heart like nothing else can. All forms of art have this potential, and a quote that my boyfriend Adam shared with me, always inspires me: The opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation – J Larson. I think this is a great motto for every community, including the gay community.
I am also truly inspired by the United Church of Canada. I attend St. Andrews-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver. I am humbled by the liberal and progressive interpretation of the Bible, which for me, catches the essence of Christianity. I love the inclusion of all peoples and the very strong social justice arm of the church both locally and internationally.
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
Working as a professional singer, teacher and composer is quite an amazing accomplishment for me. In a world where arts funding is dismal, the ability to create and add to the musical community in Vancouver is a great honour for me.
I am so proud of myself for learning to love myself, just the way I am. With the shadows of oppressive views, be they of South East Asian origin or Christian origin, I am proud of the personal work I have done to really understand myself and have compassion for those around me.
More recently, I am so proud to have found the love of my life and to have him further push me to be proud of who we are. I am so proud of my parents and other family members of older generations who have started their own coming out process as parents and family of homosexual children. It is not an easy journey for them, rather it has been quite devastating, but the mountain has crumbled and the rebuilding process is beginning.
What is your message to the world?
One of my all-time favourite singer-songwriters, Amy Grant, said It’s better to be kind, than right. That sentence has resonated with me for so long and I really think that wisdom and compassion join hands in that quote.
As a man who hopes for a world where equality for all is simply the way life works, I believe that it begins with compassion for all, and the wisdom to know how to deal graciously with each other.
Proverbs 1:20 says Wisdom is crying out in the street; her voice is loud in the open places and Hebrews 5:2 says, He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness. I hope to always strive for a balance of wisdom and compassion and apply that to all parts of my life. Hopefully that is the intersection that I live my life from, abounding from love.
Shane Raman is a professional classical singer, composer, arranger and vocal teacher born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Shane sings with http://www.musicaintima.org/ and http://www.vancouvercantatasingers.com/ and teaches at http://www.sarahschoolofmusic.com/