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And that external gaze is powerful: the invisibility desexualized me. Two, specifically, over four years of high school – not exactly like I rotated through all of the Harlem Wizards or something. Not exactly the stuff nice little Indian girls are made of.I was brown; they were the other brown people around. But what’s more memorable and noteworthy than these actual relationships is what people on the outside believed about them, something that follows me to this day after a fierce drawn-out battle in adulthood with my family over a boyfriend, also black, whom I was with for six years and nearly married. I silently accepted the loud assertions that “Chaya loves black guys!Then, a few years later and in a new place, when my sister told me that Indian girls who date black guys are sluts, which I sadly learned was indeed the popular perception, I remained a virgin, almost sitting out college hookup culture altogether.In the segregated campus social dynamics, I had what a male friend called a “reverse reputation” in one circle, while the Indians still looked upon me as a bad seed. Because I hung out with the Alphas and went to “black parties” on the weekends.Half a lifetime of words about big dicks, super-sperm, promiscuity, sexual prowess, and insatiability, etc. ” put on me by the white boys who ruled the Briarcliff social world.At 17, I didn’t know how to have a voice about the exoticization, and implicit oversexualization, of me and my choices.The silence around female sexuality – everything from the onset of puberty to reproductive health to attitudes about sexual activity – is common in Indian American homes.
I earned the name “Chastity Chaya” because of my behavior, or lack thereof, and we all shared an understanding that the label was endearingly humorous but also infantilizing.After all these years, I’m single for the first time not in a collective setting of a school or university.