I never think of myself as bisexual. I instead think of myself as a sexual being whose sexuality has nothing to do with the gender of the person. It has everything to do with the person I fall in love with.
I fall in love for million reasons: it could be their intelligence, sense of humour, warmth, self-awareness or their own set of unique quirks that define every human. But it’s not what is between their legs.
So to begin my story, ever since I started understanding the world, I always rejected the idea of gender stereotyping. While I faced no conflict with my gender identity, I identify as a cis woman, I always thought of myself as a person first and then a woman. Though I had no discomfort with the physical attributes of the female body, I always was gender neutral when it came to my essence.
I was bad at both sports and crafts. Neither cars nor jewellery fascinated me. While my classmates made fun of me for not being stereotypically girly, it didn’t bother me much, thankfully maybe due to progressive parents I had, who let me be what I was. My only interest lay in books and I was lost in them most of the time.
In my teens, I chanced upon a few Mills & Boons (the teenage semi-erotic romantic fiction of our times) and was terribly annoyed after reading a few copies based on the belittling stereotyping of women. Not to mention the Indian movies with their patriarchal and regressive storylines which further infuriated the hell out of me.
I was a feminist even before the word feminism came into my vocabulary.
I wished for a world where everybody was allowed to be and respected for their natural selves without having to subscribe to the socially acceptable standards of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. So I was a natural feminist. I was a feminist even before the word ‘feminism’ came into my vocabulary. The foundation of my feminism came from wanting to be acknowledged and treated as a person before I was treated as a woman and that is how I always looked at people too.
My sexuality took form sometime during my teens when I, like most girls, started fantasizing about boys. I did not know about same-sex love till I joined the hostel where I heard gossip about two girls being a couple. I found it strange and even gross. The LGBTQ movement was not yet known in India, i.e around 20 years back and my judgemental mentality was a result of lack of exposure.
I had soon found a steady boyfriend, while we had a good sexual compatibility, his sexist thoughts and behaviour started troubling me and we gradually fell apart after being together for around a year. It was around this time that Shwetha came to stay in the room next door during my first year of Masters and we connected like a house on fire.
We became best friends overnight. We would discuss and debate for hours together, on everything on earth from politics to movies to literature. We were ideologically very similar. Both of us were fierce feminists and whatever political and philosophical differences we did have, we would discuss our ideas to the hilt and either manage to convince each other or continue to hold our respective opinions with a greater conviction.
Every evening we would wait to rush back from our classes to have our never-ending conversations. I had never felt so close to anybody all my life. I had never experienced such warmth and tenderness nor the feeling of being so completely understood by another human being.
Our love story was not about passion finding intimacy but intimacy finding passion.
One day, when she placed her arm around me in a rather casual way, I felt a surge of sexual excitement. I was confused and ashamed of my feelings and tried avoiding physical nearness with her for some time. But we couldn’t fight the gradual attraction that grew between us, and around a year after we met, we became lovers. It felt like the most natural thing in the world.
We moved in together after getting jobs and lived together for few more years, till she fell in love with a man and decided to break our sexual connection while assuring me that everything else was going to be same. Heartbreaking that it was, we managed to save our friendship and continue to be best friends till date, which is around 10 years since her marriage. I am now the godmother of her child.
So what I had with Shwetha cannot be defined by my sexuality, it was defined by an accident called ‘falling in love’. We didn’t plan to fall in love nor did we think such love was possible before we felt it rip through our hearts and breaking our heteronormative conditioning into pieces.
Our love story was not about passion finding intimacy but intimacy finding passion. We had crossed all the possible boundaries that could mentally separate two people after which the physical boundaries seemed irrelevant and the social boundaries, ridiculous. We had the most beautiful and romantic relationship for however long it lasted. It was incidental that both of us were women, but underneath our bodies, we were just two people who were in love.
Since Shwetha left, I did have two meaningful relationships with men, one of which lasted for many years. Both times I fell in love with persons who happened to be men, they were the kind of men whose ‘personhood’ was not superseded by their ‘masculinity’.
Featured Image Credit: Saatchi Art