Eyes linger on the unfamiliar. Staring, people-watching, gawking, whatever you want to call it, it exists. And it exists more on subjects that don’t fit a norm, or that don’t tick the boxes of a societal model you’re used to.
I’m in an interracial relationship, and both me and my partner have witnessed stares and even comments implying that the fact we’re together is against racial and societal norms. So why do I find my eyes lingering on interracial couples hand-in-hand walking down the street?
There have only been two interracial couples in my extended family. Not once did I question them, and not once did I find myself feeling too intrigued by an unfamiliar image in an Indian family. Maybe I was too young to question it from a racial point of view. But now that I’m perhaps more switched-on, I find myself looking at other unknown couples and wondering what it’s like for them. Do they become hyper self-aware? Do they experience the glaring stares, not only in their hometowns but further afield in countries with different cultures? Do their families know, and are they cool with it?
It is unfamiliar for me to see couples that aren’t both white, or both Indian – two norms that I have grown up with, for the most part. I look with intrigue and curiosity, and even pride and admiration to witness people breaking cultural boundaries. (Okay, this has been going on for a while now, but the fact that people are still taken aback by interracial couples in the multicultural hub of London goes to show that we still have an issue with race and relationships. Plus, in some cultures, marrying out of caste, class and/or colour is a big no-no.)
Me and my partner come from different countries, backgrounds, cultures and religions which can be a blessing. We’re both curious people who thrive on learning about different places and societies, so as we grow in our relationship, we learn more about our racial differences and the beauty in that. We’re aware of cultural norms that just don’t exist in the other’s world, and we learn to be empathetic of this and find some harmony. Although, sometimes I need to be reminded that we’re from different backgrounds, and that’s absolutely fine.
On a side note, how do people feel about the term “interracial couple”? When can we just start calling these people simply “couples”?