When I told her for the first time that I liked her, she didn’t look at me. She smiled – not the acknowledging kind, but the tight-lipped, strict, polite upbringing kind. You could make out from that smile that she had learned somewhere to not speak her mind when things got uncomfortable – and to just avoid such situations with a polite smile.
So she did. She smiled without quite looking at me and then avoided me for the rest of the semester. That was the last time I ever gathered the courage to walk up to a girl and confess my feelings to her.
Ever since then, I have dated men, mostly casually, some probably a little more intimately. Kevin was among the intimate ones. And he was the second person to whom I openly proclaimed, “I am bisexual. I like being with women as much as I like being with men.”
Yet, when Kevin confessed something similar to me nearly four months later, I was more than just taken aback – because it also signalled the end of our relationship.
Kevin kept it short and sincere. He said, “I don’t want to continue this relationship. I am sorry to break it to you this way, especially when we are under lockdown and have no way of meeting each other. But I’m bisexual and want to explore my options. Please, please let me go.”
I have had my own share of experimentation as a teenager and in my early 20s. Although, to rectify my statement, those weren’t really experiments or things I discovered one fine sleepless night. These were things I did when I felt like it; there was no logic associated to it.
My first crush, when I was 13, was a girl; the second, when I was 15, was a boy. My first relationship in college, when I was 20, was with a girl – my first kiss was with her. Yet my first time having sex, when I was 24, was with a boy.
Yes, I leapt from one gender to the other, carrying forward the wonderful tapestry of the age-old scandals, quite synonymous to those of Virginia Woolf, Greta Garbo, Josephine Baker and Edmonia Lewis. Yet, my scandals continued to remain less glamorous and were not viewed with the most favourable lens considering I was no famous personality.
To understand my reason for silence over the years when it came to my sexual identity, just hop back to the first paragraph of this essay. There were other reasons too, of course – they’ve been piling up since I was 13 and I told a cousin about my crush in school. She immediately told me, “Don’t talk about this to anyone else. Girls don’t like girls, it’s unnatural. You probably just like her because she looks like Harry Potter.”
The next time I discussed the idea of bisexuality with someone in college, his immediate reaction was “PROVE IT!” or “PERFORM IT!”. And then, there were those who said nasty and unnecessary things like, “These kind of bisexual girls are worse at sex than the normal girls.”
Somehow, I know Kevin will not face the kind of trouble I did. Yet, he will face something else – he will not be believed. He will be dismissed as someone who is “just in a phase”. A junior of mine once told me that “it is more acceptable to see and accept bisexual women. If they’re with guys, great. And if they’re with women, it turns men on (and even if it’s not acceptable, they still don’t crack down on it so hard).”
According to journalist Esha Mitra, “Within a male gaze, a bi woman or ‘lesbian activity’ in general can be sexualised, whereas with a bi man it becomes too close to being gay and there’s an inbuilt rejection of anything gay within a heteronormative society.”
Things are clearly not going to be a cake walk from here on out for Kevin, but he shouldn’t compromise in any way. This is his life. He should wear it with pride.
Barnana Hemoprava Sarkar is a copywriter at a digital ad agency and believes that action speaks volumes more than words.