Hello! I hope you are keeping well and safe. The lockdown is still imposed upon us here, but this is June, it is the Pride month and I have been wanting to write about it for the longest time.
Note: What I discuss here does not encompass the entire outlook or experiences of the queer community. These are my personal opinions and experiences, so please forgive me if I may have written something that does not resonate with the queer community.
Also, do not forget to see my list of recommendations below for your learning and entertainment. Happy Pride Month 2021!
“TO BEGIN BLUNTLY, I am a bisexual who has never slept with a woman.
I start with this disclaimer because sometimes using the term bisexual for myself can feel like the wrong fit, like trying on someone else’s well-worn clothes and wondering if the shape isn’t quite right. Since I first came out, in gauging the reactions of those I told and foraying into the world of online dating, I’ve felt that emphasis is often placed on the ‘sexual’ aspect of the label. Consequently, due to my semi-virginal status, I have often (a) questioned my place within the queer community and (b) felt erased, and therefore uncomfortable, within the straight community. This has been enhanced by the fact that I have since settled down with a heterosexual male.“
— Bidentity by Rebecca Wojturska (from The Bi-Ble: New Testimonials Vol. 2)
I started speaking about LGBTQ+ (at least tried talking to with my best friends) during my college years and I barely made a dent in their thoughts about how fluid sexuality can be and it is natural. Few years down the lane, when communities came forward, pride marches happened, my friends were exposed to multicultural environment in their universities, and the law decriminalised being gay in our country on September 6, 2018—I was already in another country that was more open towards diversity (at least in terms of gender and sexuality) than my home country. It gave me an opportunity to study and partake in discussions that felt quite difficult and still is in my place. Though I studied subjects like “Gender in Contemporary India” during my postgraduate year, I consume LGBTQ+ stories in the form of art, books, comics, podcasts, etc. to educate myself better continuously and hope to raise people’s awareness about it with positivity.
I am fortunate to have close friends who accept me wholeheartedly the way I am, yet I get questions out of curiosity that I downright find offensive or funny (read uncomfortable). I understand the fact that representation of queer folks in main stream media is recent, let alone they have been continuously portrayed in movies as overtly comic or unattractive characters to be laughed or scoffed at; I want to bring forth light to some of the questions and comments that are thrown at me when I come out to people in confidence about being a cis bi woman:
- “Are you sure? Have you slept with women? Have you at least kissed a woman?”
Firstly, it is very rude to ask somebody’s sexual history (unless you are a sexual wellness doctor, gynaecologist, psychologist, etc). Secondly, it is not my responsibility to convince anyone with statistics. If someone confides their orientation to you, there is a high probability that they are not kidding and genuinely want you to support them. Nobody in their right mind would want to fake about their sexual identity given how harsh the consequences can be many a time. We get that you are curious, but you can educate yourself and be more sensitive about what you query.
2. “How do you know you are Bi? “
The way a straight person knows they are straight. Simple.
3.“You are such a lesbo.”
Something that annoys me a lot is how when I compliment a woman, it is invariably taken as sexual or love interest simply because they know my identity as bi. Also, do not use LGBTQ+ labels in disapproving manner to put someone down, even if jokingly. Somethings are not funny. Use labels that the person is comfortable to identify with and not otherwise. Also, straight people compliment other people of their gender quite often.
4.“Why are you so interested in LGBTQ+ rights and all?”
Why are you so interested in animal rights? Or environmental rights? Or human rights? To educate oneself is to continuously be interested in learning and unlearning process. And that also includes voicing your opinions and actively taking part in discussions (of course, in safe spaces). I have straight friends who are LGBTQ+ allies, and that is the support we need.
5. “I am sure you haven’t met the right man yet.”
As if a man can erase my attraction towards women. It is not something that needs to be fixed or cured. Likewise, marrying a man or a woman does not make a bisexual person gay or lesbian. They are bi. That is what they are and it is not something to be chosen.
4. “I think you are in a phase—you are bicurious or are just experimenting.”
When a person clearly says what they identify as, they are saying it so you can spare them from second guessing anything else. Denying or questioning whether an LGBTQ+ person really is an LGBTQ+ person is invalidating their emotions and experiences, even though they may not have had physical intimacy as the hallmark of their sexuality. Your identity should not be mislabelled irrespective of who you are dating. Strong attraction towards a person is what underlines someone’s sexual identity. And many a time, it can be to a different or same gender. Sleeping with someone is not quintessential indicator. Remember Ross and his wife? They were married but the wife identified as lesbian. Did she sleep with Ross? Hell yes. Did that make her straight? No. To all those who have not watched Friends, ummm, why not? Also, I beg you not to suggest a threesome after a person comes out as bisexual. Not cool.
7. “Well, majority of women are bisexual. It is not that uncommon.”
As much as this statement helps me feel relieved, it is not true. It generalises that women are emotional and display their feelings more openly, so they automatically feel attracted to other women sexually too. But there are bisexual men. I have not met many bisexual women, so I cannot comment about reality of this casual remark. (Read this for more information.)
Moving on, I have compiled some amazing queer recommendations for books, movies, webtoons, series and podcast in the list below. Check these out!
BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
- Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
- The Bi-ble: Volume 1 and 2 by by Lauren Nickodemus (Editor), Ellen Desmond (Editor)
- Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Arbetelli
- Sunstone: Vol. 1-7 by Stjepan Sejic (Also available on Deviant Art)
- Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka (author), JH Williams III (illustrator)
- Small World
- The Doctors are Out
- Sesame But Different (LGBT)
- The Barber
- The Prince of Southland
- All I Am
- Maybe, Probably
- Circuits and Veins
- Brian & Ditya
- The Recloseted Lesbian
- Call Me By Your Name
- Brokeback Mountain
- The Half of It
- Alex Strangelove
- Blue Is the Warmest Colour
- Happiest Season
- Margarita With A Straw
- Dallas Buyers Club
- The Boys in the Band
- Memories in March
- Queer Eye
- Orange is the New Black
- Schitt’s Creek
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
- Modern Family
Finally, a note to those who accept and are true allies of LGBTQ+ community—thank you. You may not know the impact of your acceptance and support may have on someone’s mental, emotional, and physical wellness, but being treated with respect and understanding despite of an identity that does not fall under heteronormative pattern is deeply appreciated. Though we have a lot to learn along the way, this is already a huge step in normalising conversations around diversity and inclusion. Like a good friend of mine said,
It is so important to find people who will validate your sexuality on a daily basis. I have friends who are hugely supportive, ones who pretend to be supportive but are not. But what feels worst is this invalidation. Coming out is a repetitive and continuous journey. Only you decide when you are ready to take which step.
Thank you so much for reading this post. Cheers!
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