A Love Letter – by Sharan Dhaliwal
“This is the most lesbian thing you’ve ever done, you’re a U-Haul gay now”
I met someone. Well, I haven’t met them yet, I’m meeting them in a week. By the time you read this, I’ll be loved up with her, re-enacting our daydreams, doing to each other everything we discussed in detail.
Living across the world from the love of your life, who you haven’t met yet, has an immediate effect on your mental health. And your streaming services – true crime dramas about people who are catfished and murdered is no longer allowed in my house.
A few months have passed of speaking daily, FaceTiming, sending videos and voice notes, telling everyone we know about each other and now the time has come to meet.
I feel like a pressure cooker hissing quietly, waiting to explode in a shrill. Hopefully I open the cooker and have what I expect. Although, I put the ingredients in it, I took care of it, I know what the outcome will be. But sometimes there isn’t enough salt. Sometimes I should have put in that extra garlic clove.
It’s all I can think about.
I dream about us. About her arms wrapped around me as she kisses me softly. I dream about getting married to her. I have so many different wedding dresses in my dream, because my subconscious knows how indecisive I am. She’s the main character in my mind.
It’s all I have at the moment – these dreams. Until I meet her and know what her arms around me feel like or what her kisses feel like.
And after we meet, my dreams will be about the moment she did kiss me and the moment her arms were around me.
Even when she’s laying next to me, I know I still have those dreams, because she’ll never leave me. When I’m asleep, she’s still there in my mind.
This is my love letter to Casey.
Q – Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I founded and run the UK’s leading South Asian creative magazine Burnt Roti, which is a platform for young people to showcase their talent, find safe spaces and destigmatise topics around mental health and sexuality, amongst others.
My particular interests
focus on discussing the representations of young womxn, South Asian womxn and queer womxn.
I’m the Director of Middlesex Pride and creator of Oh Queer Cupid, a queer speed dating and comedy night. I’m also a journalist, with by-lines in i-D, HuffPost, the Guardian and have been listed in BBC 100 Women 2019 global influential women.
Q – How important do you feel queerness in arts & culture is?
It’s important in so many different dynamics – not only to show the value of intersects, but also the historical and political impact to our existence. If we look back to arts and politics, there is a history of queer revolutionists, from Da Vinci to James Baldwin, where we begin to see their influence on the way we value ourselves.
Whether it be appreciating the form of nude bodies, or our race, the underlying queerness of it has developed our modern takes on art.
Q – What do you want people to take away from your piece?
It’s a love letter. I want to archive and document my love, and I want others to be able to see that it can exist. It’s important for me, as a queer woman of colour, to be open and honest about who I choose to be with.
I want others like me to know they can love whoever they want too.
Q – The theme of our second issue is ‘Dream’. Can you tell us how you interpreted that theme?
Being in a long-distance relationship means that a lot of what we experience is through what feels like dream sequences – whether we saw a video the other sent us, or we tell a story over FaceTime – if everything you do is over a phone,
where is the line between a dream and reality?
It was interesting to deconstruct that, but also having literal dreams of my partner was a big deal, because I rarely find myself being able to place people I know in my subconscious, yet she sat in there quiet neatly and quickly.
Q – Do you have any bi role models? If so who are they and why do you look up to them?
I get asked this often, and I don’t think I have bi role models, I think
I have a respect for those who work hard without the attention and media that spotlights a select few.
Those especially who work with those suffering from mental health and abuse, through the lens of being bisexual.
I mean I say this, but Stephanie Beatriz is a goddess, so there’s that.
Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?
I would probably console myself about having thoughts and anxieties around sexuality – that it’s okay to question myself. In fact,
it’s healthy to ask yourselves questions and delve deeper into your emotions
instead of settling on an answer that seems comfortable or easy.
I settled on liking girls, but being essentially heterosexual, and avoiding a large part of my truth. It affected my mental health, because instead of exploring things, I convinced myself I didn’t need to.
She / Her | London | Editor in chief, Burnt Roti magazine
You can find Sharan and Burnt Roti online at the links above