German | Indian Bengali

I identify myself as a mixed-race gay man. I come from two different traditions and bloodlines, and I have been heavily influenced by a third culture, that of England.

My father was a Bengali Muslim and my mother is a German Protestant, they met in England in the early 1960s. I was born in London and I have lived all my life in England.

I was brought up in a predominantly White English area but at the first opportunity, in adulthood, I moved to London where I have lived ever since. Apart from the time I have spent with my immediate family, I have spent practically my entire life surrounded by people of different ethnicities to me. I have not lived among either my mother’s or father’s communities or in their home countries, although I have had periodic contact with those communities and countries.

I have always understood myself to come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. This was apparent to me even as a small child. I have never felt English, even though I have lived most of my life among English people. There is nothing wrong with being English, it is just not me.

I prefer living and working in environments where I am surrounded by people of different ethnicities, so I am a minority among other minorities. I do not like living in an environment which is dominated by one particular ethnicity. I have friends from an array of ethnic backgrounds, but I naturally gravitate towards non-English Europeans. In terms of a partner, it is the personality and character that matters for a partner rather than what ethnic group he belongs to, and the ethnicity of a partner should be immaterial.

I have inherited different traits from my parents and their cultural backgrounds. I speak good German and I am interested in European culture and politics. I was brought up with various South Asian values. On top of this superimpose the influences of England. So, this does make me very mixed in outlook.

People tend to focus on the physical appearance of mixed-race people. Mixed-race people tend to be good looking, and their appearances can be captivating: you only have to look at to see this is true. If you look at advertising in London it often disproportionately features pictures of people of mixed Black / European descent, and I think this is because they tend to be regarded as good looking and a facial bridge between different ethnicities. However, I think it is even more interesting to consider physical appearance along with what personality attributes and characteristics mixed-race people have inherited from their different bloodlines. I find this fascinating and I examine this in myself and the way I react to things. I can see how I can react differently from the people around me by virtue of my unusual ethnicity. I contrast this with the way that majority English people may react to the same situation which will be often different to me, and which I can often predict. I feel that English people are an open book to me, in that I can read them and predict how they are likely to react, whereas they can’t read me, and they may be surprised or confused about how I react in certain situations. So, for example I have sometimes been criticised for being very direct and I attribute this to some Germanness traits in my character. Not everything in someone’s character can be attributed to ethnicity but I think it can influence it, particularly instinctive reactions.

Another issue that interests me is the general lack of collective consciousness among mixed-race people, myself included. Being mixed-race is deeply personal but does not easily lead to the formation of an obvious mixed-race community or communities. My observation is that mixed-race people don’t necessarily associate or identify with other mixed-race people, I include myself in this. I want to identify with other mixed-race people, but this can be difficult. This may be different for other mixed-race people, but I feel this to be the case in terms of my own circumstances. Whereas there are societies for practically every ethnic group in London, there are few groups for mixed-race people and no areas where mixed-race people concentrate and there are no neighbourhoods of London which can be specifically identified as mixed-race neighbourhoods.

If you compare this with say, LGBTQ people, the situation is very different. LGBTQ people have formed communities with collective activities and festivals, such as Pride, and they can congregate in particular towns and places (like Brighton, Hebden Bridge, Vauxhall), and there are LGBTQ publications, radio stations, websites etc. Very few resources of this kind have developed for mixed-race people. LGBTQ people have a sense of collective consciousness whereas mixed-race people do not generally have this. I have many more LGBTQ friends than I have friends who are mixed-race. I have my own theories as to why this might be the case.

I would describe my mixedraceness as being integral to me, deeply personal and unique. My mixedraceness makes me who I am. It can make it difficult for other people to read me and identify with me, but it is also a quality of great beauty and power, and it is to be treasured.