Living In India As A Lesbian: 5 Girls Share Their Experiences
We might never know what living as a lesbian in India feels like, but we sure know that it would not be easy. In a society like ours, nothing “unconventional” is easy. Some people call it “unethical” and some call it “unnatural”, but we fail to understand why there’s so much fuss about it? How can two people loving each other pose a problem for anyone else? Well, we think people who don’t approve of homosexuality should actually grow up! Some girls on Quora shared their experience of what it’s actually like to live in India as a lesbian. Here’s what they wrote...
1. “We have to hide and pretend because otherwise, society would hate us…”
Anamika Pareek says… “Our life would have been much easier if people accepted us. But since they don't, our life revolves around pretending and hiding. Life gets complicated somehow. Especially if we go away from our home for further studies and share a room with another girl. It's easy to hide for some time, but you can't hide it all the time. If not everyone, the roommate surely would eventually understand. Though we don't fall for every other girl, but there are some things that makes us uncomfortable, and that's when we find it difficult to hide. The problem is that we can't control what we feel and we can’t confess it, if we do - the other person becomes uncomfortable. The reason we have to hide and pretend all the time is that society will hate us. The only reason we’re depressed most of the times and have suicidal thoughts is that we can't tell anyone about this, and not everyone is courageous enough to come out and face the trouble.
The other day my girlfriend wanted to kiss me. I told her to wait for like years till we start living together, because if anyone caught us we would land up in jail. Though I consoled her, but “living together” is like a dream because my parents are worried about me getting married (obviously with a boy). They have no clue about anything.”
Apoorva Malhotra says… “When I tell people that I am gay, they say, “you mean lesbian?” I refrain from using the term “lesbian” to label my sexuality because most people think it’s kinky. Here’s what it is like to live as a lesbian...
Both me and my partner have received a fair number of marriage proposals from straight and gay men. Some of these men want to marry me to save me from “lesbianism”, some want to fulfill their fantasies, while a few want to marry me because I haven’t had a “real man” yet.
Lack Of Awareness
I grew up in the the glorified ‘90s. I grew up in a time and place where people called each other “gay” just to mock them. It was a time where gay and eunuch were used interchangeably and people were highly ignorant and intolerant towards homosexuality.
As of 2016, we have had no pride in my city. The number of openly gay women here is negligible.
Dating was hard. When I was a young teen, there were hardly any dating websites, and nobody was openly gay at my school. All the girls I dated till I was 15 were closeted. A girl was open about her bisexuality just so that she could be more attractive to men. There were girls who wanted me to let their boyfriend watch/ participate in bed. Also, the number of guys on lesbian dating sites is alarming.
Lack Of Sensitization
If I had a dime for each time someone told me that it’s just a “phase”, I could afford to move to a more accepting country. When I told a friend who had a thing for me that I am seeing a girl, he went ballistics and said “ why a girl, it is not like you are deprived”.
When I was in school, there was a guy who was often severely bullied by the “masculine” classmates because he was effeminate. Kids who weren’t “manly enough” were often a subject to ridicule and bashing. No one stopped that. People thought it was normal and the right thing to do. Even now I have a number of friends who find hijras “scary”.
Lack Of Support from Family:
My parents do not support homosexuality. They never will. I know that one day I will have to leave them to be with my partner. I hate having to keep my relationship a secret. I want to show my partner off. I want to have it acknowledged, and I know that I will never have that. In some years, my parents will expect me to marry a man. They would want grandkids. Being in a closeted relationship is extremely emotionally draining.
India is a “secular” country. Every major religion in India condemns homosexuality. It feels scary to live in place which has more than 330 million gods and yet I can count on neither one of them for blessings.
The attitude of Indians towards homosexuality can be hurtful. Society makes it so hard for us - as if it isn’t hard enough already. Protesters slander us with picket signs reading unnatural, uncultural, anti-national, anti-social, etc. People tell me that I do not know what love is. But how can they see love when they are blinded by their own hatred.
Let me tell you what being a lesbian in India is like, I was 12 when I figured I wasn’t straight. I tried to conform to societal moulds, tried to be straight and be what men wanted, even though men were not what I wanted. I was in an open relationship with a girl when I wanted to be monogamous. It lasted years because I was scared that if she'd leave I'd be all alone, and i would have nowhere to belong. I was told I would not be accepted, I was told I have no future with my wonderful girlfriend whom I wanted to marry, I was told that all of this is just a phase, my LIFE is just a phase, my LOVE is just a phase… And in a few months, I was called samaaj ki gandagi (scum of society), by some comedian and nobody filed an FIR against that. We are no icons, we are the scums of the society, And we're already declared criminals based on who we love!
Why does our love attract your ridicule? Love being trampled by hate, THAT is samaaj ki gandagi...
Overall, being with a girl is amazing. If sexuality were a choice, I would still be a lesbian.”
3. “When I told my parents, my mother slapped me!”
Anonymous says… “I am a bi-sexual (female). Life is kinda’ difficult and different for us. Coming out to my parents was the hardest thing that I have done so far.
Till the age of 16, I was very confused about my sexuality. I was attracted to both guys and girls. I dated only guys until I was in my 2nd year. I went into a relationship with my then friend and now girlfriend. We were in love. In our 4th year, my partner and I decided to come out to our parents as it would create even more trouble if they found out from a third person. Our friend circle was common and thus they knew about us from the very beginning. They were and still are very supportive.
We, with the help of our friends, arranged a small graduation party and we invited our parents there. We made a video about our relationship and how we are just like any other heterosexual person. We played that video and our parents were shocked. Nobody moved! Their faces were expressionless. It was the calm before the storm.
My mother slapped me. My father didn’t say a word. My partners parents left the room. I tried to explain everything. Then, when I was about to cry, my father came to me and hugged me tightly. That was the only response I needed. That was it!
After 4 months me, my partner and both our parents met and went to a nice restaurant to have dinner together. Our family have accepted us, but our relatives still don’t know about our relationship. Thus, I avoid making it evident that I am a bi-sexual.
We are 26 now, working in well reputed company in Pune. We live together and we plan to fly off to the US after a few years, get married, settle down, have kids, and lead a happy married life.
P.S: We are going to celebrate our 7th anniversary next month.”
4. “I gave up on my love because I didn’t want to hurt my parents…”
Ashley Davis says… “It's not easy. Life isn't fun, it's hard to survive. Being different here isn't accepted. Firstly, you can't share it with anyone for the fear of them hating you and spreading it all over the town. And if by any chance you got lucky and your friend doesn't hate you, they would still try to convince you to go out with a guy and to try to be straight. Like, how the heck can I do that?! I can't change my orientation. It's not a choice, it never was. But, if you still are lucky and you’ve got a supportive best friend, finding a partner is not easy. It’s not gonna happen any time soon. You have to control yourself every time you are in public, to not stare and admire a girl you like. Otherwise, she is going to think that you are creep.
If you are lucky enough to find both - a supportive friend and the love of your life, your parents would disown you. I didn’t want to hurt my parents and live happily so I gave up on my love. My luck ran out this time. It hurts to let her go knowing that I could have been happy with her. But we just chose to not hurt our parents. Maybe in future when the time and conditions are favourable I would come out to them. But, till then it's a fake me.”
5. “If you can’t accept love in every form, mind your own business!”
Jhanvi Srivastava says… “It can be difficult. I am bi-sexual. Coming out to my parents was the hardest thing that I have ever done. I was in a relationship with my batchmate. We were in love. The taboo factor of being a lesbian couple was a turn-on! We were popular in college (probably the only open lesbian couple).
One day, my partner told me that I should come out to my parents as it would create even more trouble if they found out from a third source. I weighed the pros and cons and decided to do it the next Sunday. I planned a small get-together picnic trip with my whole family, cousins, their parents, etc. I even invited my partner. When we reached at the destination, I was sure that everyone was enjoying to the fullest. So I decided that it was the correct time.
I asked everyone to come for a group picture. As I was about to click it, I said, “Cheese! I am a bi-sexual!”. Everyone was shocked. I even forgot to click on the right button for the picture.
Then it happened. My mother came and gave me a tight slap! It then grew with my aunts criticizing me, and uncles discussing it among themselves. My father didn’t say anything. There was a lot of drama. Hailing of our ethics, they started talking about Indian culture and society norms, and what not! Most of my cousins supported me, but they couldn’t do it in front of the family for obvious reasons.
My partner stood with me all the while. I calmly tried to answer and counter every question and statement by my family members. I was just about to cry, but my father came forward and hugged me. That was it! I later introduced my partner to everyone and we all had an ice-cream on the way back home! My family has accepted us, but I still face problems with other people of our community or from any community for that matter. Thus, I avoid making it evident that I am a bi-sexual.
Homosexuality is not a bad thing. Love is love in every form! Accept it and move on. If you can’t, mind your own f****** business!