So let me first introduce myself. I'm Vish -- a myopic South Asian gay guy with messy bangs from London. I also possess an unashamedly soft spot for all things Britney Spears. Let's just say, when I'm down for a dance off at the club, my thirst for upbeat Britney tunes is unquenchable. However, I'm always too shy to approach the DJ for requests. Instead, I've been known to write "PLAY BRITNEY!!!!" on chewing gum wrappers and hurl them haphazardly at the DJ. Yup, that sums me up. I hope this personal titbit hasn't stopped you from reading further. I'll just have to remain delusional and imagine you're still hanging on.
I know some people would find it strange that I'm writing to someone I've never meet or who may not even exist. But hey, what do I have to lose. Surely the last paragraph shows I've done crazier things. I predominantly blame this lovey-dovey holiday season for making me write this letter. I'm currently a sentimental mess, where a mere glance at a gingerbread nativity scene will leave me teary eyed. There's just something about this time of year that forces you to reflect on the past, future, and what's fundamentally important to us. So I've realised I really want a companion, someone to share life with and a patient soul who can deal with my quirkiness. Is that too much to ask?
I've been meaning to write to you sooner. I would say I've been too busy, but that's a lie. The truth is I lost faith in your existence. However, my faith was reignited recently by a simple assumption a work colleague made about me. Towards the end of a long retail shift, my Transylvanian (yes, really) colleague Laura, asked who I lived with. Before I could finish saying "with my landlady and her fours cats -- Tilly, Tammy, Tabby and..." Laura jumped in, "But I thought you lived with your boyfriend." I blushed and expressed a squeaky no, while making a swift exit for the bus stop. The thought of someone assuming I had a boyfriend was exciting. It's as if a door of possibility had just opened, which I had unwittingly closed. I got butterflies at the thought of you.
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've never had a boyfriend. Forget boyfriend -- I've not even had a fling, held a potential lover's hand, or experienced my first kiss. Well, the latter isn't completely true. I've smooched a few oranges in my time. Let's just say, citrus fruits are just not that into me. Sigh.
At 15, I longed for a high school boyfriend just like my female peers or the pretty white girls I saw in teen rom-com movies. However, I quickly realized finding a boyfriend for this little effeminate boy would be much harder than for his heterosexual gal pal. I was more the butt of all gay jokes rather than someone who was considered cool or hot. But it wasn't all teen angst; I found solace in TV -- particularly in hyper teen drama Dawson's Creek. I quickly feel in love with Jack, the Creek's resident homo. He was hauntingly beautiful and his vulnerability made me weep. I would regularly visit his online fan page (via a dial up connection!) and participate in forum discussions on what shade of blue his eyes were. Intense stuff, I know.
This naivete followed me to university, where I became embarrassingly love-struck in my first year. I thought I had met you, but by gosh, was I wrong. His name was John and he was breathtaking. John had these dark, brooding, puppy dog eyes that gave me goosebumps whenever he looked my way. Not to mention he was a complete sweetheart (I promise I'm not trying to make you, future boyfriend, jealous!). I was deeply infatuated with him. I even wrote him a Jane Austen-style email declaring my feelings, which I saved to send at a future date. That date never arrived. When I eventually plucked up courage to speak to him, my boyfriend acquiring dream came crashing down when he mentioned the word "girlfriend." I was devastated. But hey, I laugh about it now. I'm sure you've had your share of unrequited love?
Unfortunately, things got heavy a few years ago. My traditional Indian parents were in a frenzy to get me married off to a good Indian girl. They refused to see my sexuality, and I was too scared to talk about it for fear of rejection. I tried to reach out to my family by dropping hints, but it was as if we all lived in a warped reality. My hand just couldn't quite reach them, no matter how hard I tried. I felt alone and became disconnected from myself. My need to please everyone got the better of me and I got engaged to a girl I barely knew. The wedding never happened. I came out in the end, with shattered expectations and hearts everywhere. The whole ordeal left me numb, but I did see light at the end of the tunnel. I saw you. I couldn't throw away the possibility, no matter how small, of meeting you. I couldn't give up on not holding your hand, seeing your smile, feeling your warmth.
After spending much-needed time rebuilding my life, I began a quest to find love. It's been challenging, to say the least. I've used dating apps, where I rarely get responses from my countless messages. I've ventured out on the gay scene, which is great fun -- but people tend to stick to their own cliques. I've also been unlucky on speed dates, where I'm usually picked as a friend rather than a date. That's OK. I understand I'm not everyone's cup of tea, and I'm not angry or bitter about it. However, these experiences have left me feeling invisible. This hurts as I just want to be seen.
Now this leads me on to what I expect from you. Don't worry, I don't need saving or fixing (though you may disagree with the latter). I don't even expect you to love me, but rather, I'd like an opportunity to love you. I would describe my love as a double chocolate cherry cake. I've given slices away to family, friends, and even my neighbor's scratchy ferret. But to say I've dished out all my love would be a lie. You see, I've kept a slice especially for you, but you're being a smidge annoying for not collecting it. I know, I'm sorry, I must be more patient. But could you do one thing? In return for cake, will you just look at me? Look at me as if you care, it's all I've ever wanted.
It's clear that I need to work on my insecurities and simply be more open to life. My experiences have left me closed off and guarded for what seems an eternity. It's now time for me to push down the velvet rope, open doors, open windows, and truly breathe in my authentic self. What is the authentic self? Well, I've come to understand it involves embracing one's vulnerability and unashamedly showing it to others. I can't help but think that owning my vulnerability will ultimately lead me to you; after all vulnerability connects people. This won't be easy, but it's a challenge I'm finally ready for.
If our paths ever cross I'll be wearing my heart on my sleeve, ready to give to you. And at that moment, I'm certain there'll be butterflies in my belly. So for the time being, I'll stick to smooching oranges and wish you, my dear future boyfriend, a very happy holiday season.
Sending you love and cake,
VISH GAIKWAD is a London-living, Britney-loving "gaysian." Follow him on Twitter @vishdelishuk.
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