Ordinary to Queer

Participants at Queer Azadi Mumbai, 2012

Participants at Queer Azadi Mumbai, 2012

The first time I heard the word ‘gay’, I understood it meant happy. For the next few years, this word was true to its meaning. The other meaning of gay came to my attention when I asked my mother, out of curiosity, what if two men got married. She replied that men and women in the western part of the world did live together out of wedlock. If luck favoured them, they may get married. And if two men married, with the amount of untidiness that will follow, the garbage bin would be cleaner than their home.

When I heard the term gay from my mother’s lips, my life saw a new direction. She would read me coming out stories or tell about happenings in queer world. As I entered teens I became more comfortable with my mother. My tendency to lust after both genders was growing at this stage. In this process of becoming more self-aware, I have broken relationships of my girl-friends with their boyfriends. I became the consoling voice, the shoulder to let girls cry on. I called up my girls and spoke with them for hours on phone, became their tiny bodyguard at evenings but never was I a girlfriend to a single girl.

Once I got hold of Ramayana and Mahabharata, my discussion with my mother evolved. We discussed if Arjun was actually a gay man or a transgender, if the relation Krishna and Arjun had was really only based on friendship. The more I delved in to books, my analysis of characters got divided. Dorian Grey was my hero and Oscar Wilde my guiding star.

When July 2009 happened, I was one of the happiest people in the country. I was a minor but I was excited about my future prospects for finding a partner. A few days later, the first unofficial gay wedding of the country happened in Manipur, in my north east. I re-read the article and shared the news with everyone I knew. That one wedding picture made me understand that I was never going to be a completely straight girl again.

Soon after I turned eighteen, I began my blog. I made sure that I mentioned the word bisexual in it. The first question that came from my friend was, ‘Why exhibit your tendencies to the whole world?’ Indeed, that was my very thought. ‘Why?’ I realized the answer to this later. In the three years of college life, I have attempted having relations with both genders. Every girl I thought seemed cute cut me off, the boys I tried dating could not handle my declaration of attraction towards my own gender.

bisexuality, woman, india

Participant at Delhi Queer Pride, 2012 (Photo by: Eric Johnson-Vik)

Then December 2013 happened, and my little web of personal comfort flew away. The place where I grew up was not very open to the idea of homosexuality. So no one was bothered about the outrage regarding this. The re-criminalisation of Section 377 drove me insane. Another friend said, ‘The law talks about the sexual act, but government won’t peep in your bedroom. Why should you worry? You are single now, and when you do it, just hide it.’ After penning one blogpost and venting out my anger on Twitter and Facebook, I realised I was a criminal too. Here I was, an inexperienced queer, already prepared to be branded as criminal if I ever had the chance to eat the forbidden fruit.

My mother still had no idea how much deeper my roots for LBGT went; she had missed the word ‘bisexual’ glorifying my blog. After reading my blogpost, she said, ‘You sound very much homosexual to me’. I said I was. It’s been almost a year and she still has to accept it openly as she thinks I am honing the queer identity because of my humanitarian genes. Not that our relation changed or her love has decreased, but I felt happy when I told her. Now I can freely say I am going to bring a bride home. This sudden change of the law may have helped me come out to many people whom I cared about.

I often get asked when I realised I liked girls, or whether I saw someone doing the deed. Did someone inspire me to like girls? Did I get dumped by a boy that I seek comfort in girls? Was it films or books which changed your orientation? In my life I may have met two or three queer people, and they are far from inspiring to me. All the queer people who have helped me grow are my online friends. If reading gay manga, watching queer films and queer porn makes one gay, I am surely the end product. When I asked my teacher for advise, I was bombarded with questions. My biggest doubt was, which I assume all queers have experienced once, ‘Was I normal?’

My teacher said attraction knew no rule and who were others to judge my sanity. Then came the famous words- Love that dare not speak its name. I was not in love, I had no lover waiting for me, I had no restrictions on me from family. Therefore I found myself wondering, why did the affirmation of Section 377 hurt me so much. I always had an easy way out, I could love a guy and be fine. Why did I have tears in my eyes when the news broke out that sexual acts among two adult men or women was unnatural and illegal?

Now I am twenty one. If I see a couple getting married in New York, my heart warms up. When I see a couple fighting for love in Russia it pains me. I may not be in love, I may have a very understanding mother, I may see the injustice of the law, I may flaunt my sexuality openly but not all are as lucky or as confident as me. It hurts me because we are looked down upon as someone who is not part of the social system.

I am ordinary, I have no special skill or talent. If I deny my bisexuality, I will be a lesser version of me. My sexuality may contribute nothing to my growth, but why should I hush it just because I have a comfortable life? I want to tell people that I fall for both genders, not because I am different, but because I am normal. I no longer want to pen lesbian stories to amuse myself —I want to listen to people, I want them to listen to me and ponder about my thoughts.

Now that I am an adult citizen, I think it’s my duty to help fellow people come out of closet. I think one should come out of closet for one’s own well-being . I think first step towards helping others is to first accept one’s own identity as an individual with a mind. One doesn’t need to wave the rainbow flag, just admitting that he is a ‘rainbow sheep’ of the family is a big step forward in country like ours.

Aritra Paul