My name is Kavita Sarmah and I identify as a bisexual woman. I sleep on a bed that’s painted of rainbow, and wake up at 6 AM everyday and immediately break into a Beyonce dance routine. I practice polyamory obviously and have eleven girlfriends and six boyfriends, who on the weekends I get together with and participate in a huge orgy, in a room full of flashing, neon lights and EDM playing in the background.
Now let’s get back to reality and try that again, shall we?
Yes, it’s true that I identify as a bisexual woman. I wake up just before you can call it noon and almost always miss breakfast. I like to drink tea and write, indulge in poetry and make charcoal drawings sometimes. I have only ever been in monogamous relationships; I spend a good amount of time scrolling through social media in my day, post pictures on Instagram, cry about the sadness in the world, laugh at funny illustrations and GIFs that I come across online and being bisexual, has little to do with my personality than you would think.
My sexuality being bisexual does not mean that I have a completely different lifestyle than your average heterosexual or that I am more likely to be unfaithful, flamboyant or attention-hungry; It simply means that I am sexually attracted to both men and women (And NOT at the same time). If I were to be comfortable with engaging with more than one person at a time, it would be because I was someone who believed in a polyamorous lifestyle and not because I identified as bisexual, or if I was naturally always craving attention, it would probably be because of some Freudian, parental-childhood issue. The point is, the fact that my sexuality is anything other than heterosexual does not automatically add to or deduce from my personality, to fit the stereotypical idea of generalization, and this is what I struggle the most with in society as a sexual minority.
If I trace back to my crushes from high school I realize that I had always known till an extent that I was attracted to both male and female genders. But back then I did not know the terminologies and always had this idea that, feeling this way is a bad and embarrassing thing. I remember, I had a close friend in my eighth grade and I hung out with her all the time in and out of school. Gradually the kids from my class started calling us ‘Lesbis’, and I was just so alarmed and embarrassed that I felt conscious every time I was near her around people.
I was in denial for a longtime and made sure I did absolutely nothing to let anyone ever have the slightest idea that I was feeling this way. I think somehow it was easier to hide it because I was bisexual and not lesbian, so I assumed I could suppress a very important part of me and just respond to the men that I was interested in (and not the women). I had been in an abusive atmosphere at home and so, most of my days in my early teenage years, I lived in the fear of my father and just caught up in chaotic strings of shouts, and physical and mental abuse in the house. That is why, my sexuality was the last thing on my mind and I found it convenient to bury it in the deep, deep corners of my mind.
It was only when I stopped living with my father and shifted from the tiny township in Gujarat to an apartment with my sister in Bombay, that I felt like I had the time to completely explore the person that I was sans the abuse. The best way to break free from ignorance is to read more, and that is exactly what I did. Reading more about the spectrums of gender and sexuality and having conversations about these topics that are usually considered taboo, completely eradicated the stigma that I associated with such a significant part of my authentic self. I came out to my sister in a rickshaw to home, when I impulsively blurted out that I did not identify as a straight person. To my pleasant surprise, it was the most easy conversation I ever had, in fact she even brought me cupcakes to celebrate my ‘coming out’ the next day. I made a decision to be open about my sexuality with the people who are in any way a part of my life, because I feel that the only way I can spread awareness about LGBTQIA issues is by representation and making it a part of my conversation.
I have definitely come across awkward or offensive responses to coming out as bisexual, which I do not see as a completely useless thing as it only underlines the problem that exists in our society. I remember a friend of mine had come across the Facebook post that I had made when I officially came out to everyone who followed me online and she messaged me asking, “What the HELL have you posted on Facebook?” After making sure that she was talking about the said post, I explained to her that I was bisexual and did not want it to be a secret anymore and she said, “No you are not, Kavita.” It was funny to me because in that moment I felt like she meant that she was more Kavita, than I was. I wondered if that would have been considered an appropriate response in other scenarios too. “I have divorced parents.” “…no you don’t, Kavita.” Or “I ate a bowl of noodles for lunch.” “No you DIDN’T, Kavita.” Even though all the things stated are real and true facts about me, I realized that this specific fact that I am a bisexual woman, immediately met with an impulse to not take it seriously.
There have been times when I have felt completely frustrated and have considered to never talk about my sexuality again, especially when I come across weird men who think it is okay to ask me if I would agree to a threesome, or people who ask me “So have you been with more men or women?” as if in an attempt to proclaim the credibility of my sexuality, without a clear understanding of its existence and nature. But the truth is that, there is no other way out of it than to go through it. The reality of the situation is that ignorant people exist and to the extent that, the combined ignorance has made it to the constitution of India. The most effective way I think is to talk about it; to bring it up in conversation with your friends at coffee shops, to write about it in blogs, to make arguments into discussions and standing up against ignorance.
When I had first come out to everyone I knew in a Facebook post, I was told by a bunch of people that stating the fact that I am bisexual has no outcome to it, I should keep it to myself and that it would make no difference at all. But the beautiful part about coming out, the part that I choose to focus on rather than the negative comments is that… there was a difference. After I wrote that post, three different people sent me messages telling me that they identified as sexual minority as well, and that they felt so supported and hopeful that a person that they know of has come out publicly, and that maybe someday they can too. It made all the difference in the world to me because when I came out, it was not taboo anymore, it was as natural and real to me as having brown hair or big eyes… it was ME.
Every one of us here only craves to be understood and be happy and I think it is so heartbreaking that so many of us are denied the happiness and our human right, merely because we exist exactly and naturally as we are. Is not diversity the essence of nature? The only thing unnatural would be if all of us were exact replicas of each other; the same size, color, sexuality, passion. A lot of the time, it breaks my heart coming across people who often are victims to hate crime, who are disowned by their families or are subjected to cruel bullying till they take their own lives and just because they are born LGBTQIA+ and want to live happily as their uninfluenced, authentic self.
Some days I cannot help but cry, thinking about all the people suffering because of someone’s ignorance and unability to understand and that I cannot save them from their bullies. But more days than not, I feel hopeful. I see hope in the friend who shares posts online in support of LGBTQIA+ rights; I see hope in the guy who chose to come out as homosexual on a popular page even though he knew his relatives would disapprove of it; I see hope in the huge groups of people who wave their big rainbow flags, paint their faces with sparkling colors and march along in Pride Parades, fearless. And I see hope in having the liberty to be here and write about myself being bisexual, and knowing that there will be a bunch of people making their way through ignorance and negativity, standing as allies in support.
There is negativity, unfairness and ignorance in the world and I am aware that things are bad. But even then, here we are dear reader. I, hopeful about it enough to write this article and you care about it enough to read it and in this moment is where all the possibilities lie. The truth I believe is that there will definitely be a day when the world will be fair for all of us no matter who we choose to love; it is only a matter of time that you and I become a hundred, then thousands and millions and gradually so united, that no unfairness exists out of ignorance and hate. I urge you to make LGBTQIA+ a part of your conversation.
I am Kavita Sarmah; I am an artist, sister, traveler and bisexual. I have the right to be as happy as anyone else. Do you agree?
This post was first published in Feminism in India and has been republished here with permission
About the author: Kavita Sarmah is an artist, optimist and a tea person. The world to her is in shades of blue and grey and specks of rainbow. She believes in feminism, breaking stigma and regularly posting to Instagram.
Cover image for representation purpose only