The term ‘Sex Education’ stands for providing programs that offer valuable information on contraception and sexuality. It also includes information about the gender spectrum, importance of consent and sexual abuse awareness.
However, sex education is something that’s never been encouraged in the Indian society. Even if there is a sex education class, the syllabus doesn’t cover the important topics such as sexuality and gender spectrum. Indian private schools have the liberty to add sex education into their curriculum; yet the topic still remains greatly taboo in our nation.
Recently, in July 2020, new National Education Policy (NEP), as approved by the Union Cabinet, was released. What the NEP lacks is an inclusive and comprehensive sex education in the curriculum. But what is the problem with it?
The problem, my dear reader, one of the primary reasons why our society fails to understand the gender spectrum is the lack of an inclusive sex education. It’s also one of the reasons why our society flat out denies to accept the LGBTQIA+.
Many individuals from the community agree with this as well. Imagine how easy would it be for people to identify their sexuality/gender without any confusion or shame.
FSOG spoke with Indira*, a 22 year old bisexual from Mumbai, India, who admitted that her journey to self acceptance would’ve been a lot smoother if she had a solid sex education in place. Read on to find out more about her exclusive story.
I don’t think it was an overnight realization. For a long time, I tried to find a label for myself that I thought fitted best. Looking back, I think it was pretty obvious since a very young age that I felt romantic and sexual attraction towards people of more than one gender.
I’d be lying if I said it was not confusing. However, that confusion only stems from what the society had told me all along; and how I internalized that. There were days I wished I could stop feeling how I felt to conform to the compulsory heterosexuality the society expected of me. But soon the realization that it was going to be a waste of my own energy hit me. Thus I started working on accepting and even encouraging how I felt. I am still in this process because I am closeted; but it feels liberating to know that there are safe pockets in my life. Where I can be whoever I wish to be!
However, I do understand that my bisexuality is fluid; and no attraction has to be equally divided to be valid! So to all the bisexuals questioning their feelings, know that you are absolutely valid in whatever you feel and however you feel it!
My Identity Does Not Bother Me:
I do notice and think about my sexuality a lot; but it does not make me feel like I’m different. The internet especially has made me feel like I have a community who I can always talk to and rely upon. It’s where I will be heard and feel safe and this knowledge has been a great help for me.
Inclusive Sex Education Will Remove ‘Coming Out’:
I think Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) can go a long way in changing how the dialogue around gender and sexuality is constructed in our the world; especially in a conservative country like ours. Educational institutes play a huge role in setting the learning foundations for children. Whatever we hear from our educators have lasting impacts on our minds as children. It can help all of us break the social constructions that bind us; and that can liberate us to achieve our true potential.
Especially for queer youth, CSE can have a life-changing impact if the classrooms they go to everyday are safe spaces; where we don’t have to censor ourselves in anyway and we get to be our authentic selves. In an ideal world that values CSE in the educational classroom, we won’t have to come out anymore; and will have allies all around us. This will strengthen the empathy and respect we hold for each other; and also help us unlock our capabilities.
I truly believe that had our country and its classrooms being inclusive, safe, and open for all people regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation; ability status, race, caste, class, ethnicity, skin color, linguistic background and so many other identity markers; I would have never felt the need to announce to the world that I am bisexual. Growing up, a lot of my mental health problems stemmed from my closeted bisexual identity; issues that I still grapple with. And I think it wouldn’t be the same had my surrounding been more accepting and safe.
Representation For Bisexuals In The Media & Community:
Most of the bisexual characters I have seen or read about in the media have been from non-Indian origins. Even though we had Bani J play a bisexual woman in ‘Four More Shots Please’, it was a portrayal I did not resonate with. The hyper sexualized bisexual is a trope that we have seen enough and should do away with now. For me, the character of Rosa from ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’; and her coming out journey on the show was something that made me feel seen and heard. Additionally, the fact that the actor-Stephanie Beatriz is a bisexual woman in real life also made me connect to that character a lot. However, I do think that we need more honest representations of bisexual people in Indian media.
I think for a long time, even queer movements across the world haven’t been very inclusive. We definitely saw a lot of cis-gay men since the beginning. I do believe that this is changing now, with many more conversations around the spectrum of queerness and the visibility of different identities; and of people who do not want to restrict themselves to an identity.
Reason For More Bisexual Women Coming Out Than Men:
The answer is simple- toxic masculinity. It tells men that there is only one way to be desirable; and that fitting into the alpha male stereotypes is the only way to go about life in a patriarchal country such as ours.
I definitely see more bisexual women than bisexual men in the media. Which is again an extension of the limitations toxic masculinity confers upon men.
Five Most Common Misconceptions About Bisexuality:
1. Bisexuality is limited to attractions towards men and women.
2. Bisexuality is half and half attraction to two genders.
3. Everybody experiences bisexuality in the same way.
4. Bisexual people are greedy.
5. Bisexual people are confused or closeted homosexuals.
I wish that people can stop shaming bisexuals about their feelings and let each bisexual person define their sexuality for themselves. The binary understanding of a 50/50 attraction needs to be done away with; and we need to realize that bisexuality can mean attraction to more than two genders. And also to gender non-conforming people for a lot of bisexual folks.
We Need More Community Empowering Platforms Such As Fifty Shades Of Gay:
I think the collective effervescence of a community platform such as FSOG is the reason that so many queer folk feel they are valid; and appreciated and feel they belong in this world. The internet has made it possible for me to accept myself. And the stories that I read and see on pages such as FSOG serve as a constant reminder to me that I am not alone; that my feelings are not isolated and there are ups and downs in our queer journeys. But as a collective community, we are bigger than that.
Such platforms have helped me understand myself better. They have instilled in me a power of togetherness and have also helped me educate myself. I believe that the energy such platforms hold is unmatched in the sense that I may be hundreds of miles apart from someone and never meet them in my life but their story got me through the day; and told me that things will soon be better. That is the power of a strong community and I think it is beautiful how FSOG facilitates that connection!
My Suggestion For Bisexual Folks Who Wish To Come Out:
I have only one advice- take it slow. Please don’t feel the pressure to label yourself. You are absolutely valid and loved with or without a label. Feel all that you’re feeling and stay with those feelings. Really connect with what and how those feelings make you feel.
If you don’t want to associate with a label ever or if you think you might want to in the future or if you know that there is a label that you really want to hold on to- do it! Do it only for yourself and on your own time!
*The real name of the interviewee has been hidden as per their request.