Love Who We Want

Yesterday, I wrote about a teacher who was fired from my Catholic high school for marrying his partner of 10 years. 

Today, I want to hit a little bit closer to home with my culture regarding a similar issue. How free are we, as Indians, to love who we want? Is it possible to be with or even marry the person we want if they don’t fit into what our culture dictates is right for us? How much pressure do we even put on ourselves to fit into what we think is right? 

I’ve learned the hard way that what is right on paper isn’t what is right for me. But I had to go through a pretty big self-inflicted struggle to understand this. 

Even if we never hear anything from our parents or family about who we should end up marrying, there is this idea that we should end up with someone who is the same ethnicity and religion as we are. They should be equally matched in every way: looks, education, financially. And even if the pressure isn’t directly put onto us by someone else, we put that same pressure on ourselves. We want the approval of our community. And to get that approval, we have to fit into the mold that was shaped out for us and has been shaped out for us for decades or maybe even centuries. 

So what happens when we fall in love with someone outside of this mold? What happens when we realize that a relationship goes past the education and the looks and the families getting along? What happens when we realize that there is so many other aspects to consider that have nothing to do with what we have been taught? 

I have seen it go both ways. I have seen couples split up because one or the other isn’t approved by their family. Instead of fighting for their love, they choose their family and sacrifice their relationship. I have seen couples stay together and try to make their families understand their relationship.

So it’s a choice. It’s always a choice. Unfortunately, we can’t control the idea of what the perfect relationship looks like. But we can control how we react to the opinions of our relationship. There are still going to be times when the world won’t agree with a relationship. Is it worth it to fight for it? Or is it something that should be given up because it’s not “right”?

Should we love who we want? Or should we love who the world says we should? 

Fired for Being Who He Was

Today, a lot of alumni from my high school are gathering to support one of the teachers at the high school that was fired. Let me explain the background. 

I went to an all-girls high school. It was Catholic and run by the nuns that lived on the property. It had the usual: uniforms, masses, classes on religion. How does that make a Hindu girl feel, especially when I was in the minority? Actually, I never felt out of place. This school was pretty tolerant of those that were not Catholic. We were never made to feel different. We had to attend everything, of course, but I do remember one specific idea that was presented in one of my religion classes. It was that every religion has the same 5 basic principles so we aren’t all that different from each other. I remember also being asked to stand up in front of the whole school and say something about friendship in Hindi during Thanksgiving Mass. I was proud of my culture and I was allowed to share it. I actually wore a sari to my prom which when I went to prom was something that most people had not seen before. 

A few weeks ago, I saw an article that a former classmate had posted on Facebook. It was about a teacher from his job at a high school getting fired because he got married to his partner of 10 years. Turns out it was my school. There was already a movement in place to get him reinstated that was orchestrated by former students of his. I signed the petition and expressed my surprise at the intolerance of my high school, especially when I had remembered it to be otherwise. 

This is not a teacher I had learned under when I was in school. He was present but our paths never really crossed. From what it sounds like when I read his other students’ stories that he was a greatly influential and well-respected teacher. It’s been amazing to watch people come together to support this cause. It’s remarkable to know that a man who just did his job by supporting his students is now being supported by his students. 

It’s embarrassing to know that my high school could show this type of intolerance. I’m glad that someone took a stand. Their petition has reached a lot of people and I believe they have a march tonight at the high school to show their support.

It’s about time that those who aren’t tolerant come into the 21st century. 

If you would like to show your support, attached is a link to the petition.