I remember listening to Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It” and feeling weirdly uncomfortable. As a 7th grader who barely had any clue about sexuality, this song had somehow managed to make me feel a certain way. Not because the idea of two girls kissing was wrong to me, but because I somehow felt like I wanted to do it. It made me feel called out. At that point, I couldn’t even put these feelings into words.
On a chilly winter day in school, one of my classmates walked in with the cutest muffler that I had ever seen. I felt a sudden rush in the pit of my stomach, butterflies as we call them, the kind I’d only felt about the boy I’d had a crush on for three years. A blush crept on to my face and I didn’t look at her the entire day. The thought was conveniently repressed by my brain as I continued going about my introverted school life.
Come 8th grade, and the onset of my sexual maturation, I discovered pornography.
It was a rather colourful ride. I started with watching anything that came up on the first page of the website, to developing a taste for certain categories. One of them was lesbian porn, but I never paid much heed to it. I started fantasising about women more than I did men. Most of the times, I wasn’t even consciously doing it! I’d catch myself falling down a spiral of thoughts about women and quickly push it away. A little later in the year, I started dating a boy. Now, we were young and scared, and hence, there was no physical intimacy involved.
As time passed by, the both of us started having conversations in the sexual context, and I expressed my feelings about women to him. To which he replied, and I quote: “Oh, cool. We can have a threesome now”- I had never been more disgustingly confused. It felt as though the part of my sexuality that catered to women was only secondary, and the ultimate fate would be ending up with a man. A naive tenth grader, I unconsciously believed that feeling. I’d see women, appreciate them, and get tingly feelings but I always pushed them away. I eventually broke up with him.
I started meeting a lot of new people in 11th grade, my horizons broadened about the LGBTQ+ community. I started reading a lot more about gender and sexuality, and what made each of us different. However, this knowledge didn’t give me the confidence to accept the way my body, mind, and heart felt towards women. I would still never acknowledge my sexual desires for a women. Even though I was consuming a lot more queer content, and being sensitised towards the community as a whole- I couldn’t see myself being a part of the community.
The homophobia had been so deeply embedded in the entirety of my being, that yes- I empathised with the community and wanted to empower them, but I did not want part in the disadvantages of it. Again, this wasn’t a choice I was making consciously. I have been brought up in a society where being different means being weak. Your strength is decided by how much you’re accepted in the society. I never understood it but I didn’t know I could choose not to play be the rules.
My feelings for women peaked in 12th grade. It wasn’t specifically a person. It wasn’t specifically a feeling. It was rather a cluster of feelings, and emotions, and fluttering of the heart when a girl walked by. All the years of pushing those feelings down were now resulting in them springing up. I knew I was bisexual, but I still didn’t want to come to terms with it because I was so afraid to change what I’d known of myself all my life. I was too afraid of discovering a part of me I’d pushed away for so long.
I shifted to Bangalore for college. I started studying in Mount Carmel College, which happens to me a women’s college. I was surrounded by strong, independent, fiery young women who radiated confidence. They allowed themselves to be who they wanted to. To see all these people being comfortable in their own skins, and govern who they were was exciting, and reassuring.
One day I remember looking at myself in the mirror and saying it out loud “Harshita, you’re bisexual, and it’s okay.” I felt relieved, as though a I’d finally let out a secret that I’d kept in too long. It’s still a little difficult to believe on somedays. There are still days that I get tired of having my identity dismissed as a phase. On those days I look at myself in the mirror and repeat the same line: “Harshita, you’re bisexual, and it’s okay.” until it starts making sense.