How Many Bisexual & Lesbian Women In India Must Be Trapped In Traditional Marriages?

Posted: August 20, 2019

There is still little awareness of queer culture in India, so it isn’t surprising that we have no idea of the many ‘happily married’ Indian wives who identify as queer, but have no option.

Since Section 377 has been decriminalized, or even before that, Indians have been becoming aware about the concerns of the LGBT+ communities, but we forget about our ‘happily married Indian women’.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I too was not thinking about them specifically, despite being from the community myself. It was never a topic, I thought, that needs to be talked about or even to be thought about; after all, they were ‘married’, and they were happy.

I realised that I am lesbian, as a teenager. At the age of 14 I fell madly in love with one of the girls from my school, one year junior to me. She loved me back and we spent a good 8 years in a ‘secret relationship’, after which we got separated. However, I didn’t know then that the real meaning of the term ‘secret relationship’ was soon going to change for me.

It’s been nearly 9 years now since then, and it is just recently that I came to know about a whole new world of the Married Indian Lesbian Housewives.

“Are you a lesbian?”

Being an introvert I don’t talk much, with strangers and non-strangers alike, so making online friends was out of question. However, there was this one gentle lady who kept messaging me without tiring of it. She put in a good amount of effort just to talk to me, to become friends with me. Her efforts and attention did attract me and today, almost one and half years after, we have became the best of friends.

At that time, I didn’t know, obviously, what I was signing up for. I didn’t even think about that. But, now I know that it was the opening of a new chapter for me to read.

So, after talking to that lady for some days, my shyness dried slowly. I felt comfortable with her and I think she also felt the same with me. Then, one shocking day (it was night actually), when we were talking (texting, I mean) about the usual stuffs as always, she asked me suddenly, ‟Aap lesbian ho kya?” (Are you a lesbian?)

It was shocking, but not because she asked me that, but because of what she said afterwards.

I read her text and simply replied with a “yes” without giving it much thought. To which she replied, “me too”. That was what shocked me.

I asked her if she meant what I understood by that, and she said, “yes, I am also lesbian.” After which followed a message asking me why was I so shocked. She also told me that she had a girlfriend.

I took a long pause of several minutes there, just to re read the whole conversation. It wasn’t a long one as the conversation had just started. Still I took a moment there. I was shocked not because she came out to me as lesbian, but because she was in a hetero marriage with two kids.

That was my first encounter with a ‘happily married’ lesbian Indian housewife.

Over the year I’ve come to know her a lot better. We talked about our lives and I asked her about her marriage – as to how does she manage to be in a hetero marriage after knowing that she is lesbian?

Well, all she managed to reply to that question is that her husband is such a good person, her in laws; who are no more alive now, were also very kind hearted, and now that they are dead and her husband has no one in the family and she is everything he has left with, so she has no option but to be in that marriage.

What about their sex life?

Which leads me to wonder about her sex life.

I couldn’t resist the curiosity, and I asked her about it. And all she said about her sex life was that “pehle bahut accha lagta tha, lekin abhi din bhar ghar ka kam karke, do baccho ko sambhalne ke bad, energy nahi rehti hai. Aur accha bhi nahi lagta hai mujhe aj kal ye sab” (it was fun at first, but now after working for the whole day and managing the two kids, I don’t have the energy and besides, I don’t like all this now).

So I asked her what she does when her husband wants to have sex. She replied, “Occasionally I do sleep with him only to stop him from going somewhere else, and some other days it just happens without my consent.

That last statement shocked me caused a little pain too.

It shows me the harsh reality of Indian housewives who are queer. Also shows the cost these women are paying for that ‘low divorce rate of Indian marriages’.

However, as I later came to know, she is not alone in this situation. These ‘happily married’ wives have created their own world through social media. Majority of them keep a secret social media account apart from their real account. One is to show the life they live and the other is what their dream life is like.

A secret life

So these women use the secret account to connect with other queer and lesbians (mostly other ‘happily married’ wives) all over the country. Ironically, they find each other and they all are secretly in a relationship with each other. Some have even virtually met women of other countries to have their dream relationship. And others are just happy with their country women.

They are so happy in their relationships, that some of them even have two or three girlfriends at the same time. Most of them have never met each other in person, although each case has its own exceptions. They talk on phone calls, video calls, they do group chats, and the most amazing thing is they have also managed to maintain a sex life just through phone and video calls.

When I first got to know about the life these women are living, it left me with my mouth shut and mind thinking at a speed it never had before.

What these women are thinking about themselves, their lives, their family, husband, and kids and most importantly their future, is still a mystery to me. I’m still in the process of getting to know more about them. Every day that I talk with them gives me new surprises.

They have made a home; a home unknown to the people other than themselves. These women surely don’t want to leave their husbands but they want to have a relationship of their own choice which is not with their husbands; both at the same time. They are happy in living like this. They are used to their lifestyles.

Some want an out but don’t have the courage, and feel they have no option. Things like reason, justification, validity etc seems to be inapplicable in this situation. And even if they apply; this is not something for us to do as we are not in that situation yet, and we don’t understand it better than themselves.

The real work we can do here is taking a step of inclusivity towards these women. Today, inclusivity and representation are becoming such a burning topic, yet these women are left behind their ghoonghats (veils) without any identity, without any choice, and without any place even in our thinking. No one has ever dared to look closely behind those ghoonghats. It’s time for us now to have their back and give them some support.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: Flickr

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