"I had brown parents and I didn't know what gay meant"
Canadian musician, writer and visual artist Vivek Shraya recently opened up about her queer identity and the concept of gender.
In her books, Vivek often offers readers a deeper perspective into queer life and her identity.
Vivek’s non-fiction books include I Am Afraid Of Men and What I Love About Being Queer.
The author’s fiction works include The Subtweet and How To Fail As A Popstar which was released in March 2021.
She is also the author of the children’s book The Boy & The Bindi in which she confronts the issue of gender fluidity.
Vivek attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2021 where she talked about how she came to terms with her queer identity and the importance of expressing herself through her books.
When speaking about the point in her life when she decided she identified as queer and wanted to come out, Vivek said:
“I think one of the hard experiences for me was that I was told who I was before I had the opportunity to tell myself who I was.
“At a young age I was called all kinds of homophobic slurs, so it was a weird thing for people to know something about you that you didn’t know.
“I had brown parents and I didn’t know what gay meant, so when kids were calling me ‘gay’ or ‘fag’, I was like, ‘I don’t know what that means’.
“I couldn’t ask my parents because they didn’t know either.”
The Indian-origin author is working to change the narrative of individuals who identify as transgender, specifically those from minority backgrounds.
Vivek said: “I liked the arts, I was more creative, I had lots of female friends, I wasn’t super-macho.
“With Indian masculinity actually, those things are fine – consider the Hindu gods.
“What we see as very feminine in North America is masculine in Indian culture.”
In her most recent book, I Am Afraid Of Men, Vivek explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy.
She also addresses the subject of how society might reimagine gender for the 21st century.
Vivek said: “It’s not just cis-men or straight men, but I talk about my experiences with gay men and about my experiences with women.
“I think it’s important for us to have a multi-faceted approach especially when we’re talking about issues like patriarchy and misogyny.
Vivek is proud of her identity and no longer feels that she has to hide. Through her books, Vivek is able to express herself and talk about her love of being queer.
Vivek Shraya said: “I think one of the things about being queer is that it is so wonderful that you learn to build family outside of the biological family.
“That’s one of the things I love about being queer, that we build families differently.”