Pamli and Sarah are in a mixed race same-sex marriage. Sarah is British Irish Jamaican Turkish and Pamli is British Indian Punjabi. The two met in 2015 and married on the 12th of April in 2019. Soon after, Pamli and Sarah started an Instagram page called PS love wins. It’s become a safe space for Pamli and Sarah to share their love and experiences as a mixed race same-sex couple, in the hope that it inspires others going through similar challenges with their loved ones to take strength and courage from their page.
They have an empowering and inspiring story full of love, conviction, acceptance, patience, sadness and joy. It does not matter who you are or how you identify – this story will resonate with you on the grounds of family, love, life struggles and self-acceptance. Love is love. And if you fight hard enough, love wins. This is the sentiment behind their page, and in the words of Pamli, here’s their story.
I think it’s important to be visible. When I came out to my parents, one of the comments I received was “this doesn’t happen in our culture”. I didn’t actually know anyone within my family or extended family that was a part of the lgbtq+ community. That really made it hard for me to help them understand, but I tried to normalise our relationship and love to them as much as I could.
Maybe if I had seen couples who were South Asian or Desi and openly gay, I probably wouldn’t have hid who I was for so long. The best thing I ever did was come out…a massive weight was lifted…and I felt like I could now live my most authentic life. I could finally be true to myself no matter what others thought of me.
It took me a long time to accept my own sexuality and to love myself. I always thought that a) there was something wrong with me and that b) I couldn’t hurt my parents. I’d rather live a lie and keep them happy…which is really sad actually! I almost did succumb to familial and cultural pressures…until I met Sarah.
Sarah wasn’t out either, but I felt after meeting her and realising how important she was that I had to be honest with my family. I had to stop leading a ‘double life’. I came out to my loved ones for my own happiness. Although it was more so because I met Sarah and realised that she was that one person I wanted to spend my entire life with. Sacrificing love for ‘other people’s opinions’ really wasn’t something I was going to do.
I remember my cousins saying I was really brave but I initially felt like a massive let down to my parents. By this point speaking my truth was honestly the only option I had left.
Tackling the resistance
I think when you find someone who is your equal and just seems to click in every way – you refuse to hide them. You want everyone to know you have this amazing person in your life and that you’re happy with them! I was so fed up of hiding our relationship. Besides, Sarah’s family had already guessed we were together. They’re super close and me and Sarah were so local to them that it became obvious.
Organising the wedding
Planning a wedding is hard anyway, add to that the stresses of family and their expectations of what a wedding should look like as per custom and culture…it was really tough! On the other hand our suppliers were amazing, but I did have some anxiety about how they might react. I had to keep telling myself that it was their issue and not mine. I used to mention that we were a same-sex couple before meeting them just to avoid facing their initial reaction.
When I first came out to family I went through a really rough time and as a result of that I might not have been the most pleasant person to be around, but Sarah was really good – so patient and strong for me. She was there throughout all of it and would catch me every time I fell apart.
I think growing up as the youngest and being the closest to my parents (even though I left home 10 years prior) I always had my parents support. They are good people – kind, hardworking, generous, slightly backwards but they have big hearts regardless. So, feeling like I could lose them and seeing them hurt, was really hard for me. I just felt like an absolute rubbish person.
I did carry their pain with me for a long time. It wasn’t as severe as what others will have faced in terms of physical violence. My parents are not like that. It was just a lot of conversations that left me feeling so drained. I felt drained for weeks. I just wanted to lie down and not move. Not do anything. The emotions consumed me and the conversations would just play over and over in my mind, especially during my drives to and from Birmingham. I’d literally have tears and tears…going home became an awful experience. This continued for about 12 months. There was one comment my dad made, and it really led us to where we are today. He said ‘we really don’t want to lose you’ and he said it in Punjabi.
I did have it bad. It was really hard to go through the things that I did but I also feel fortunate because I know others have it a lot worse! And at the end of the day the love that I have for my parents and the love that they have for me has got us through all the challenges we faced as a family. Life isn’t perfect now but it is better than it was a few years ago. We are moving in the right direction and if I look back to my mid 20s when I thought being happy was impossible…I am content with the progress that’s been made in this journey. Hence our wedding hashtag and Instagram page #LoveWins!
Understanding intergenerational dynamics is important. I suppose with the older generation they’re battling with what they’ve been told and taught and what they feel when challenged on those views by their children. My parents have lived their entire 60 years with a certain mindset. It is really hard to change that or even to get them to see our point of view.
The best thing is just knowing we have one another. We are best friends…we get to embark on this journey together…specifically for me knowing I can’t change my sexual orientation, or who I fall in love with. I chose Sarah and my life with her because I love her. It just happened. The way love does. Growing up I was always worried that I would end up getting married to a man for the sake of it, to fulfil my family’s dreams, but I didn’t.
Sarah on Pamli
Looking back to where we started and where we are now makes me feel really proud of us both, more so of Pamli. Our journey has not been easy. We faced some difficult times, both together and individually. I think one of our hardest struggles was telling our families about our relationship and our plans to marry. Although we met with a lot of love and support, we also dealt with judgement, and a lack of understanding and rejection, which of course was hard to deal with at the time. I think one of our achievements is that we dealt with everything together. Our love deserved fighting for and I knew that once we got through everything it would be worth it. Marrying my best friend and soul mate has been, and will always be, my proudest moment in life.
Being true to yourself
My world feels better because I’m open and out, and I’ve always felt comfortable being who I am in London away from home. I’m learning to bring that into my life in Birmingham which involves family and family functions. That’s somewhat of a challenge still…but we keep on…
Having this visibility on Instagram has introduced us to many others from the lgbtq+ community and they really bring a different perspective to life. Hearing their struggles and stories really helps. Life isn’t easy. Everyone goes through some kind of challenges – it’s all about how you handle them.