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On Love: Turning 30 won't be my "gay death"

“I was told on dates that my race was what they found desirable”

Pedro Cooray is a writer and comedian who has performed improv for several years. For this week's column, I chat with him about navigating romantic love as a brown, gay person. 

But is love only found in romance?

I’ve only experienced non-romantic love – my longest romantic relationship was three months. 

I’m a fat, gay, neurodivergent Sri Lankan guy – I have no role models on television. I think a lot about where I fit in. I didn’t fit any straight boxes. When I came out, I found more boxes in the gay community - body type, feelings about relationships or sex. I didn’t feel I fit any gay boxes because of my race or body type. 

I don’t like the apps. I used to date only white guys because they’re the majority on the apps. Most assumed I was Indian, and I stopped correcting them. I was told on dates that my race was what they found desirable. They didn’t see it as fetishising or racist but as a compliment. 

Then I thought, you know what, my next date will be with a person of colour, a fat person of colour. Then COVID happened, so I dated no one - meeting strangers during a pandemic is a terrible idea. Now I think – by seeking a fat person of colour, am I also now fetishising? It’s so complicated. 

I don’t know what my expectations are post lockdowns, outside romance. Like how do I feel about sex? I used to like emotionless physical intimacy, but I’ve reached a stage where I’m happy to live without it. I’m now figuring out how to explore my sexuality without casual hookups.

While navigating this, I’m surrounded by the love of an incredible group of friends. We know we’re not perfect, what we need to work on and how to talk about it. 

We talk about mental health openly - it is a gift. I grew up in a South Asian household not speaking about mental health – now it feels silly to think of it as taboo. I love my friends because I’ve never had the freedom to discuss such topics before. 

When I meet my gigantic family, I feel a weird tension – I don’t want to talk openly about being gay or my mental health. Even though everyone knows about my life, and they won’t judge me – my family is loving and caring. But I don’t think they know what to say – if I’m too open, I’ll make everyone feel uncomfortable – who wants to do that? 

It’s remarkable to make such close friends as an adult – separate from relationships formed in school. We met as adults through improv comedy. Our friendships now extend well beyond that shared activity; we talk about everything.

When I came out at 22, an 18-year-old gay guy said, “You’re going to reach gay death before me; when you turn 30, no one will want you.”

I turn 30 soon. I can’t wait to get older, keep having open conversations with people I love, and be even more comfortable with who I am.

Liked reading 'On Love'? I will be speaking with a South Asian person about what it means to them regularly for this column. If you have a story you'd like to share with me, DM me! You'll find my handle in the bio below.


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About the author

Sashi Perera is a Sri Lankan Australian comedian, writer and recovering lawyer. She was featured on the UK's 2021 Funny Women Awards 'Ones to Watch’ List and was part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2021 and 2022. She's constantly inspired by love in all its forms and writes a regular column for South Asian Today, ‘On Love’. Instagram | @sashbomb



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