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Here are some of the best LGBTQIA+ posts that have been published on Women’s Web in the past 10 years. #ADecadeOfWomensWeb #PrideMonth
It’s Pride Month, and it is but fitting that we begin the showcasing of the best posts in various categories as part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations, #ADecadeOfWomensWeb, with those that speak of LGBTQIA+ lives, experiences, and issues.
As I’ve said a lot of times, the way to support women is through a sisterhood that hears them, and amplify their voices. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the LGBTQIA+ community, where people are often deemed invisible, and even actively persecuted.
There have been huge strides in the laws that affect the community in the past few years, and through #ADecadeOfWomensWeb, we’ve seen both the vilification and the uplift that Indian law has given them.
While ancient Indian culture has been accommodating of all sexualities and genders, Section 377 of the IPC was a British fixture that was carried on into the Indian constitution, finally abolished in September 2018, after the yo-yo-ing that it went through over the past decade, removing the ‘criminal’ tag, though much has yet to be done to really normalise things in India.
However, for the purposes of this article, I will not be picking up any from the many many posts we have on this. I will instead, focus on amplifying the voices of those for the community, and some posts by allies on issues extremely relevant to the lives of LGBTQIA+ communities. We also have one anonymous post, by a bisexual woman who wants to keep her identity unknown.
And that’s one of the best things about Women’s Web. You can share your voice and experiences here, without the stress of any consequences – we can publish your thoughts anonymously too.
So without much ado, here are these top 10 posts on the issues and lives of our LGBTQIA+ community.
I’ve Struggled For 23 Years For My Identity, Success Feels Around The Corner
Akkai Padmashali was assigned male at birth, but she always felt like a girl. It has been a long struggle to be who she is today, a transgender activist. In this post she speaks about being transgender in India.
Almost all of us in India are raised with a very clear demarcation of our genders right from our birth. Beginning from our intimate surroundings especially parents, siblings to friends, relatives, teachers, school and then public life. The struggle to constantly prove your identity increases at each step but the need is to educate.
It is important for everyone to be aware that these patriarchal notions are not the gospel truth of life and need to be challenged. We are in a state of a paradigm shift in our society where all the so called norms and notions of identity are being challenged. Labels, notions and the patriarchal rules are being challenged. In such a scenario it is important for the power makers to take the right steps.
I’m Busting These 7 Myths About Bisexual People, That Both Straight & Queer Folks Believe In
The author’s note at the foot of this article says, “I am a bisexual woman preferring to remain anonymous, who hopes that the reader is interested in her message instead of her identity, and looks at us bisexuals just as people like everyone else.” Because bisexuals are among the most misunderstood of the entire queer spectrum, as the author says while busting the myth: We’ll pick a side one day.
This is when people think that once a bi person gets into a committed relationship, they’ve picked a side. If their partner is of the opposite gender, they’ve picked straight. If their partner is of the same gender, they’ve picked gay. Not true. Think about an ambidextrous person, someone who can use both hands equally well for writing, eating, or anything else. Just because they’re using their right hand today doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly right-handed, does it?
Think That Love Minus Sex Is ‘Just Friendship’? Think Again!
There is one section of the queer community that remains almost invisible, especially in a society like India putting a big premium on the ‘sanskaari’ Indian woman. Those who are asexual-aromantic. Because if this girl is not making eyes at someone, very good, no? Nice girl to get married to. But this girl could be aro-ace, and it might be a mistake to think that she might not have ‘fallen in love’.
What happens when these people grow up in highly sexualized environments or orthodox cultures? They go through their life feeling abnormal about what’s a 100% natural to them. They might not have the term for their orientations, but they’ve struggled with it for long enough to know it’s beyond control. While a few are able to find a partner like them, most tend to force themselves in sexual relationships in an attempt to ‘normalize’ themselves, putting themselves in dangerous situations. Eventually, they end up getting pressurized into marriages with partners who expect them to be sexual and bear children with them.
I’m Not A Man Or A Woman, And Your Social Norms Can Be A Nightmare For Me
Gender isn’t always binary, as I’ve said earlier in this post. But anything otherwise can be very traumatic for someone in a traditional society like ours.
I was labelled a ‘boy’ when born, but I’m not. I do not feel I am either a man or a woman, but often feel like a woman. In technical terms, I am a non-gender conforming, non-binary trans person expressing as femme.
And dysphoria hurts. It is as crippling as any other mental disease is. It causes me to shut up and cry for hours on end and crave for that brief moment when I can finally wear something that makes me feel like myself. But, then again, for you people? For the “cis”? I am just a man walking into women’s places. That is also a reality I struggle with.
Being Queer And ‘Coming Out’ To My Mom Has Been Quite An Emotional Journey
‘Coming out’ can be a significant rite of passage from someone from the queer community, and the response they get on coming out can often define how they feel about their sexuality or gender.
You see, I view ‘coming out’ as a weird concept. It has the tinge of a ceremony to it, like it is a one-moment thing. But coming to grips with one’s sexual orientation and preferences is rarely ever a one-moment thing. It takes years of personal churning to realise that about yourself. It takes years of noticing one’s own feelings when one interacts with people of all genders. It takes many days to notice one’s eyes settling on different persons, and what details one remembers after that moment has passed.
Did his smile make me blush? Did her mere presence calm my nerves? Did they just enter the room and make me happy? Did a person’s touch just make me feel at home? What was that person’s gender? Did I care to know? Did it matter? It takes many, many such moments to realise that, ah OK, I am anything but thinking ‘straight’!
While Dutee Chand’s Family Did Not Stand By Her, Here Are 8 Ways You Can Support A Loved One Coming Out
So how do you support someone who comes out? How do you make sure that it is a positive experience that will hold them up?
Be respectful of their courage: Remember that as difficult as this moment may be for you, it is much more difficult for your loved one. They have shown immense courage and great trust in you by sharing their truth with you. Be respectful of that. Thank them for telling you.
It is not about you: It is easy in the moment to ask, “How could you do this to me?” or to say, “I always thought you were gay/lesbian.” However, saying so would make the conversation about you or your feelings. And while your feelings are important, at the moment it is more important to talk about how your loved one is feeling.
Coming Out On Campus As A Lesbian Or Bisexual. How Easy Is It?
A moot question, as this the usual phase of one’s life when our public identity is being formed. How easy or difficult is it? What are some of the experiences we read in this post? (Just pointing out that this is a 4 year old post, and things may have changed somewhat in the meantime.)
‘Coming out’ is a deeply personal experience and not something that can be forced as a rite of passage. Many a times people are in the ‘closet’ as stepping out of it means turning their whole lives upside down, and not in a good way.
Being queer in today’s society can be most often a battle between the person and multiple demons like the ‘fear of rejection’, ‘blatant discrimination on campus or at work, ‘social isolation and boycott’ and even ‘violence’; all being fought simultaneously. Violence can be overt or covert. It can be physical, mental or emotional or all of them put together. It comes to us from strangers and even worse when it comes from family and friends. Therefore it is tricky business coming out to people in a public space like a university.
“My Sexuality Is Just One Part Of Me!” Himanshu Singh, Who Came Out About Being Gay On Facebook
It is an act of courage and a belief in oneself – coming out in a public forum like a Facebook post. 28 year old Himanshu Singh, whose words went viral when he did this, is interviewed here by Paromita Bardoloi, an ally.
Because no one talked about it, and I didn’t know anyone who had come out as a gay person. So, to cover my truth I fabricated more stories about liking a few girls, having crushes, and so on. With this, somewhere the guilt of living a lie was sown.
It was a Sunday. I took my brother to the beach, fed him his favorite ice cream, and finally told him that I was a gay. At first my brother gasped and asked if this could be cured. I was baffled. It was 2016, and still I had to explain that homosexuality is not a disease. But then in India neither our education system, nor our social system prepares us for it. So, I explained to him, that it was something natural and not a disease. My brother took his time, heard me out and accepted me. Nothing again changed with him. The air I breathed seemed to be freer.
HIV/AIDS Is A ‘Gay Disease’: This, And 8 Such Myths About STDs Busted
There are many myths about STIs and STDs in LGBTQ + individuals, that discriminate, and also prevent their easy access to sex education, prevention, and treatment.
Labelling HIV a “gay disease” or only associating it with the gay/bisexual community is harmful, because it perpetuates harmful stereotypes by building a false cause-and-effect narrative about being gay and testing positive for HIV.
Individuals who have unprotected anal sex, including straight individuals, are a high risk category. Assuming that gay and bisexual persons have unprotected sex with multiple partners simply by virtue of their sexual orientation is harmful stereotyping. Members of the queer community are no more or less likely to have unprotected sex or have multiple sexual partners than straight individuals.
Gazal Dhaliwal, Writer Of India’s First Light-Hearted LGBTQIA+ Film Is An Inspiring Trans Woman!
Gazal Dhaliwal came out to her parents as a trans woman when she was 13, when they were as confused as she was about her gender identity, but their whole-hearted support is what drove her to accept herself fully and embrace her identity publicly when she was 25, finally having her gender reassignment surgery in 2007.
Today, Gazal is the writer of a few highly acclaimed movies – being either the screenwriter (Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, A Monsoon Date), the dialogues (Lipstick Under My Burkha), or contributing significantly to the screenplay (Qarib Qarib Singlle, Wazir).
Look out for our next post on #ADecadeOfWomensWeb tomorrow, in a different category.
June is also Pride Month, and we’re having a series of articles to mark it, celebrating the voices of those from the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies, including those from the Women’s Web community.
Image source: unsplash
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In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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