Some topics have been forever considered taboo in the Indian society at large. Of course, exceptions exist and we are slowly opening up to the idea of discussion and dialogue. But we still have a long way to go. In this article, I‚Äôll touch upon one such topic regarding the LGBTQ community and the related terminology.
But first, let‚Äôs talk about gender identity and sexuality, which are two totally different things but are very often confused by people. We can have a gender identity without a sexuality, but we can‚Äôt have a sexuality, without a gender identity. So basically, we all have a gender identity: male, or female, or anything that comes in between. That is our gender identity. Now, gender is a complete social construct. It is the way that the world expects us to behave, and the way we chose to express our gender to the world. And then, we can be attracted to men, women, or gender non-confirming people. That, is our sexuality. And that is something that we are born with. It is not something that we can help, not a ‚Äòphase‚Äô, and definitely, not unnatural.
Keeping in mind this major point in understanding sexuality and gender, the following are some important terms that would come handy the next time you have to ward off misconceptions about pride:
Homosexuality : A homosexual person is defined as being sexually attracted to people of the same gender as themselves. The ‚ÄòL‚Äô in LGBTQ stands for lesbian: women attracted to women; and the ‚ÄòG‚Äô for gay: men attracted to men. It is definitely the most talked about ‚Äòother‚Äô sexuality, but it is not the only one. Homosexuality has been looked down upon since the earliest ages due to numerous religious and cultural beliefs. But isn‚Äôt it awfully sad that people still have to face hate for loving someone?
Bisexuality : A bisexual person is attracted to people from the same gender, as well as people from the opposite gender. Bisexuality has been misunderstood as being superficial and fake, and has received a lot of hate from people from even within the pride community. But bisexuality is not ‚Äòbeing confused‚Äô or ‚Äòafraid to come out as homosexual‚Äô. Though in a lot of cases people can come out as bisexual first because being absolutely sure about one‚Äôs own sexuality isn‚Äôt just a task, but a process; people tend to find out over the course of their life who they are attracted to.
Pansexuality : Pansexual people are defined as being sexually attracted to anyone regardless of their gender. So a pansexual person may be attracted to a man, a woman, or any person who identifies with any of the genders in between the gender spectrum. As with the other sexualities, pansexuality too isn‚Äôt fake. We should be aware of the fact that there are many more gender identities than only the two binary genders i.e. male and female; and some people are just born to love anyone, unfortunately, in a world which still eyes it with disdain.
Asexuality : An asexual person is not sexually attracted to anyone, and it does not have anything to do with gender. We can safely state that asexuality is just the opposite of pansexuality. But, it does not mean that they cannot form romantic attachments or relationships. Asexual people aren‚Äôt cold, stoic humans: as many would like to believe. They are just as humane as anyone else with other sexualities. They can have romantic inclinations towards others: be it from the same/opposite gender (homoromantic/heteroromantic), or both (biromantic), or any (panromantic). Now, the thing worth taking note of is that when we are talking about these terms, they apply to all the sexualities and are not just restricted for asexuality. Because sexual attraction and romantic feelings are two separate and individual entities, which may, or may not merge for a person.
Transgender : The ‚ÄòT‚Äô in LGBTQ denotes transgender, and is one of the most commonly discriminated against and stigmatised community. Simply put, a transgender is someone who does not adhere to the gender assigned to them at birth based on anatomical sex. Their gender expression does not confirm to their assigned gender. Because sexuality labels are generally based on the relationship between the person‚Äôs gender and the genders they are attracted to, trans sexuality can be defined in many ways. A trans person can be straight, gay, bisexual, queer, or of any other sexual orientation.
Queer : Q stands for queer, and is used as an umbrella term for people who do not confirm to normative sexual and gender identities. The term has troubled historical and political links and so, many people from the community deter from using it to refer to themselves. Currently in pop culture, it has been cited by a lot of influential people to identify themselves with, and is no longer considered to be that offensive. Nevertheless, we should always respect individual preferences when it comes to using identity labels, particularly contentious ones (or one with troubled histories) like this.
Intersex : It is common to confuse between intersex and transgender whereas the two have a distinct difference. An intersex person is an individual having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of both male and female. Their chromosomes and hormones and genitals differ from that of the two expected patterns of male and female. Intersex people are not an abnormality or an abomination, and the mindless hatred directed towards them, as towards the larger LGBTQ community is completely, absolutely unjustified.
There has been a rise in the number of recent incidents involving violence and harassment towards the LGBTQ community all over the world. And it is absolutely high time to raise our voices and put an end to it. The time is right for change, for support, and for freedom.
In a world full of hate and hostility, come celebrate love on the 12th of November at the Queer Pride Delhi 2017. Come as a member of the rainbow, or an ally. Spread love and kindness. All over. Cheers!