Yatin Mistry

Age Vitality
Gender Equality
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Being Your Authentic Self

February 22, 2024

‘when you let your light shine you give others permission to do the same’

My name is Yatin Mistry, I’m a proud, gay, British Indian, but it hasn’t always been this way…

I grew up in the 1980’s in  Essex and went to a school where everything was whitewashed and racism was merely accepted. I internalised this racism and became ashamed to be brown, I wanted to fit in and the only way to do this was to be white. 

When I was aged 14  I heard about colonialism and the British raj and my perspective changed. I wondered how  they could have committed such atrocities to my ancestors.  I blamed all white people and became angry with society, looking back, It took years to reconcile this fracture within my identity. 

I went on to live a comfortable life in London securing a graduate program, I was very good at my job. 

One evening, on the way home from work, I read an article; it spoke of children living in Africa who were passing away because of famine. I felt disgusted at myself,  the unfairness of it, I was compelled to help. 

I handed in my notice at my work  in search of work that would make a difference. But they didn’t accept this,instead, to my amazement they gave me an unlimited sabbatical.

I went to India and worked with children in the slums. This was hard as I didn’t speak the language so it was hard to keep their attention. I would shower in half a bucket of water, and sleep on the floor in shifts as there was no room for everyone to sleep at once.

But the hospitality of the family I stayed with was incredible. I was looked after like one of their own. It was this hospitality that gave me space to think about my dual identity as a British Indian. My host family were monetarily poor but rich in spiritual wealth, I was proud of my heritage. 

I had a lot of internalised homophobia growing up in the Asian community. I was led to believe that homosexuality was a western disease. When I was 12 and saw a gay kiss scene on Eastenders and my mum had such a visceral reaction that for me being gay was out of the question. I was ashamed and thought there was something wrong with me.

During my time working with children in an Indian school I became good friends with the headmaster, we would engage in many philosophical conversations, and one day he asked me about my views on homosexuality, I wasn’t sure what to say.

The headmaster told me that every year at school there would be boys who would say they had crushes on other boys. This school was so far away from the west, yet children are still gay. And then it dawned on me homosexuality is natural, not coerced. I was gay. 

I decided that when I got home I would tell my family. I first  told my brother; he laughed, hugged me and told me it changed nothing about our relationship.But it wasn’t all plain sailing, I told my mum and she just cried and blamed herself.

My parents  decided to take me to India to marry me to a woman. I couldn’t let this happen. I told them that they brought me up to be honest so I would be honest with the girl and tell her about my sexuality. They finally realised that this would be horrible for the girl and fundamentally dishonest. 

To this day I do not blame my parents for trying to marry me off,  they thought they were doing the right thing by me and by society.I think that it’s important to give people the grace and space to understand our identity because in their minds they are behaving in a way that they think is right. After all, it took me 26 years to come to terms with my own sexuality, how can I expect others to overnight. 

Now I’m in a great place. I am eleven years married to my husband. I coach and share my story to help others find themselves. I priorities my spiritual identity to become the best version of myself because; when you let your light shine you give others permission to do the same.

This tale was written by Millie Davies based on the interview with Tales to Inspire 

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