It was when I checked my calendar, I realised that I was a week away from World Adoption Day. I rushed to see if I had someone in my network I could interview and amplify on socials. I had it. Pascal!! Pascal would be perfect I thought. Apart from knowing that Pascal was adopted from Nepal at a very young age, I really knew nothing about my next interviewee.
Adoption. My recent memory tells me I’ve seen the film LION and read the book All of us in our own lives where there’s a character who was also adopted from Nepal. The very little I’ve seen or read about adoption stories, my assumptions and the ‘typical’ things that get fed through our incestuous Nepali society paints adoption as a really dramatic journey, full of questions and endless searching. I foolishly thought my next interview would also follow this pattern.
[Queerness is an umbrella term that is both an orientation and a community for those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum]
Lex: I guess I’ll kick off the interview. How’s everything going and how has this unique year been so far for you?
Pascal: I’m okay, I am currently working on a little project for Christmas where we showcase people of queer talent in Hamburg. During this pandemic, when the BLM protests started happening, it really got me thinking about my role in society as a queer non-white person. We did this event themed around BLM Pride where my two friends and I danced in heels. I met people and it really got me thinking and searching within myself, what the fuck is going on.
Lex: I think a lot of people have been asking important questions this year… You’ve had such a global upbringing and as you mentioned, visibly you stand out; how has the process of questioning yourself been?
Pascal: I partially grew up in a small German village and being the only two brown people with my sister, who is also adopted from Nepal never really bothered me. It’s not new to us. One day, my sister and I were just on our street and we felt all these people starting at us. We confronted our grandma who is white and told her grandma they’re all staring – and she said they’re just staring at your beauty (laughs) and I guess it was nothing unusual to feel people looking at us. However, now I get it. I am so open about everything, walking around in dresses, having a gay old time and that emphasizes the stares even more. I live in Hamburg now and people still stare, have a giggle and talk to their friends immediately when I’m passing by in my H&M gown but I don’t give a fuck anymore.
Lex: It’s amazing to know that you’re in that space where it really doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a long journey for many to get there. I noticed the Jamaican flag on your Instagram and you mentioned that you grew up in Jamaica. Now tell me how that was?
Pascal: Yes, I lived there for 14 years. We moved as a nuclear family and it was fine because we were in privileged areas and lived in a complex and went to international schools, surrounded by international people. However, my parents eventually split up and there was this gradual move from international to private and then a less prestigious private school. That was how I discovered Jamaican lifestyle more and I also started dancing in Jamaica and we were surrounded by Jamaicans who dance. When the whole homosexuality bit happened, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone but at the same time, we were very cautious. PDA, forget about it. There’s an underground community and you’d only get information about the parties the day before as its super-secret. So yeah, I went to my first gay underground party in Jamaica. My dance teacher was also a homosexual, he lived in a less sheltered area and there was an attack on him where they broke into his house. They didn’t kill him thankfully. So, with us knowing someone who was gay and was attacked, we were even more cautious.
The minute I came to Germany I was like, You!! Boyfriend!! We’re holding hands and walking down the streets.
Lex: That’s incredible, surreal too! And yes, going from one extreme to the other, that’s inevitable! You’re bound to live it up. You’ve already mentioned about your sister also being adopted, I’d love to know about your early beginning, can you journey back from Germany?
Pascal: My parents were living in Nepal for work and during that time they discovered a German family who had recently adopted Nepali girls. After my parents had a conversation about starting a family of their own, they got serious about adopting and so they adopted my sister first and after a year, they adopted me from Swayambhu. Apparently, I was sick and my birth parents were going through a separation which made the process easy for my parents and birth mother.
Lex: Ah right! So, after your parents adopted you, how long were you all in Nepal before moving to Germany?
Pascal: We moved pretty early! We moved directly to Bavaria, like the most typical German village. We moved there when I was one and my sister was two. We lived in a tiny village and throughout childhood, neighbours and kids in kindergarten would ask us Why don’t you look like your parents? which is completely understandable. My sister is more vocal than me and when we’d be playing in the playground, we’d get quizzed and she’d be like “yeah my brother and I were adopted from Nepal” and that was it.
Our parents always told us from the beginning about where we were born and why they adopted us. My grandma tells us these stories about how our mother was practicing to tell us whilst changing our diapers.
Lex: You make it sound so simple and I suppose it should be… atleast not a big deal, but I believe it will differ according to each person. Talking about sister, so you only have a year age difference?
Pascal: Yes, one year and we’re not blood related.
Lex: After your family moved to Germany, did you guys ever go back and visit Nepal?
Pascal: There was a time when my parents went back with my sister but I haven’t been back, which is crazy if you think about it… and I don’t know why. I don’t know – it was never in the cards.
Lex: As a young person growing up, how was it for you to navigate through your childhood and teen years especially when you’re discovering more about yourself?
Pascal: Where I stood out the most is when I was in Jamaica in high school. I was a little bit feminine even though I tried to act up. I was dancing since seven and everyone was like oh he’s the feminine dancer, he’s the homosexual which I fought off and my sister did as well. That was like the main part of my life where I felt so different… fuck this. Thank god we had school uniform or else I would’ve just blossomed into a butterfly, which I don’t think the world would’ve been ready for.
Lex: I love that! The part about the butterfly. In terms of who you are and how you identify, how did you communicate that to your parents… some of us have a difficult time but how did your parents respond?
Pascal: I don’t even remember coming out to my mum, I did but I don’t remember the chat. It was the one that I had with my dad where I was more like what is going to happen. I came out to my mum when I was eighteen because I was trying to be straight the whole time and when I told my mum she was like yeah, as a kid you played dress up, I’m not surprised, I saw what was coming. I then came out to my dad a few years later when he came to visit me where I was studying. I told him I have to tell you something, I’m not like other boys explaining to him how I was different even though he probably knew and then he was like yeah, I thought so and then I was like – and btw you are walking to my boyfriends house, bye!.
Lex: That is so funny! It sounds like a conversation that a LOT of people would love to have!
Pascal: Having parents as mine, it’s a luxury. But we have hiccups and bumps in other areas.
Lex: I guess, and yeah, every family aye. Talking about your parents… do you have any personality traits or mannerisms that you pretty much know is from your parents?
Pascal: I do! I even talked to my sister about this. My mum was a young mum so many things about her development, like to be better, more mature, willing to help, going way beyond out of your capacity – I definitely picked that up from her. My dad’s very stubborn and I’ve definitely got that from him. We’re a wall. But also, very sure of oneself, I wouldn’t say confident but ‘I can do it’ type, he does that and I do that. Those are the positive ones.
Lex: In terms of Nepal, you’ve mentioned to me that you don’t know much about the country… I am curious to learn if you have friends or family that ever-shared things about your birth country?
Pascal: My grandma always gave us little books about the Kumari Goddess and she’d tell us that this is where you’re from. She made us watch documentaries too which I found really cool. We were planning to visit Nepal this year. I mentioned earlier that when my parents adopted us, there was another German family who had adopted two girls from Nepal… well we’ve been growing up together ever since. We call them cousins and we see each other every summer but we never had conversations about Nepal when we were younger and they also didn’t go back but this year we decided we’d go there in Spring. We had flights booked and everything, but that’s the end of that story. I then said, hey guys, do you guys want to start looking for our parents but they all said no. I was like, then you guys can help me, they were like yeah totally.
Lex: Talking about connecting to birth parents, have you tried connecting to your birth mother in the past?
Pascal: Well, my mother is so keen on me finding my birth parents. It was always like you don’t want to find them?? I was like, yeah sure so we started google searching and emailing people. There was a time I was like; I don’t know who I am until I find my parents – like many movies.
Lex: When was that?
Pascal: That was the teenage years where I was like I don’t know who I am. But then my mums urge to find my parents was few years ago. We kind of went for that but my birth name being such a common name proved to be a struggle and also my birth parents might not even have Facebook so, I don’t think it’ll be possible for me to search without being there. And I haven’t given a thought about what I’d do if I find them… My father tells me that my birth father told him that he wanted to see me when I was 18. I am 28 now, so I missed that train. I am curious but not curious enough to do it… maybe there’s something that’s stopping me because I feel like it’s also a search that would never end. From the four of us, I am the only one that wants to do this, pursue this the most but not to the point that I actively want to go about it as well. Have you watched the film LION?
Lex: Yes, what did you think?
Pascal: I was like, how dare they steal my story. Why am I not in this movie? On a serious note, the journey he went through as a young child, his story is very different from my early beginning.
Lex: Have you wondered why your birth parents offered you to your parents?
Pascal: I mean it was always explained to us and our parents were very transparent with us. My birth parents were going through a separation, I also technically have siblings and so my mum would’ve been alone. I might be dead by now or working as a child labourer from a very young age. And why my parents picked me, it was never a stand up in line, You! scenario! Yeah, I never felt guilty about it. The only question I asked myself was Am I thankful enough? Or should I present my gratitude more and then I ask myself do children who are born from their parents ask this as well? That ends up in a long process.
Lex: I had emailed you a previous set of questions and they were hugely just focused on adoption and what that meant… what did you think when you received and read through them?
Pascal: It’s really hard to compactly answer such questions. Since there’s so many different things that play into everything, being adopted is like, such a small part of me… Like, how am I going to answer this without writing a fucking book. I was like how do I say this.
Lex: I think if Nepal had happened this year, there would have been a lot to unpack!
Pascal: Oh yes, totally!
Lex: Have you ever had momo?
Pacal: Momos? No…
(I go through a mild shock where I’m… shocked… and explain to Pascal about momo, what they are, the variation in tastes, types and the people who eat and make momo… I also mention Tibetan momo)
Pascal: Speaking of Tibetan, apparently both of my birth parents are Tibetan. So, I don’t know where I get my look from…
Lex: Well that is fascinating… I’ve always struggled to put a face from Nepal to their ethnic group and I would’ve really struggled to guess where your family group would be from. On a parting note, who has been the most supportive on your journey so far?
Pascal: My mother and sister, I was failing to get into university for dance and my mum was the vehicle behind me. That was a life saver.