When I was young, I heard words like ‘lesbian’, ‘tomboy’ and ‘gay’ for people who were in same sex relationships and also for people who expressed themselves differently from the heterosexual norm. Beyond these words, I didn’t realise there was a plethora to be discovered about identities and orientations until I began having feelings for the same sex.
The acronym LGBT+ came in my life when I had a feeling I might love women. I was not sure until I turned 20. Before that, I defined myself as heterosexual ? a woman who loved men. Truth be told, I began having feelings for women since I was 9. I remember the day I followed a girl who I liked to the school canteen. I followed her without even knowing myself.
When I was 11, I had a crush on my close friend. But I still didn’t know that my feeling meant ‘something more than friends’. I never told her that I liked her. I was confused about myself until I was 20 when I sat myself with the internet to know more about the feelings I had been having towards women. Before this, I only dated men whom I liked, but the attraction towards women remained, somewhere even I didn’t know. The windscreen cleared when I developed a crush on women several times after I broke up with my boyfriend at 18.
I found a website that explained about the LGBT+ community. I realized I might be a lesbian. By then, I was sure I was attracted more towards women than men. I went on to define myself as a lesbian and started dating women. It was amazing when I became sure I loved women, I felt like there was nothing left to hide from myself. What complicated the situation was that I couldn’t stop thinking about having relationships with men too. I spent time with myself to reflect what I really wanted to define myself as. I didn’t only have crushes on women but men too. I wasn’t a lesbian, I told myself. And from then I began identifying as a bisexual woman.
I never had a relationship with men again. I spent my life living with a woman who identified as bisexual for almost 6 years. We lived together without any problem in our relationship until I met a trans man on whom I immediately developed a crush on. It was such a difficult time for me and my (now) ex-lover to accept that I was ‘changed’ again. I was attracted to a transman. And I realized that I can also be attracted towards everyone regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. I began identifying myself as pansexual from then on.
The term “polyamory” came into my life the same time “pansexual” did. While I had a crush on the transman, I was still living with my ex-lover. When we began dating, we used to talk about other kinds of relationships. I felt like I couldn’t be in monogamous relationships. She agreed with me. We talked to each other that in future we might have a potential to be in polyamorous relationships. But when it happened in reality, it was not easy for her to accept. I told her honestly that I had a crush on this transman who I wanted to date. At first she was okay but later she couldn’t manage her feelings of jealousy and fear of losing me to the transman. We tried to deal with this situation, and almost broke up many times.
This was our past. When I came to India, I had a relationship with another woman. I told my ex-lover about it and she accepted. She told me she had another partner too. I was happy for her. We both realised we have our own lives and freedom to love anyone we want. Even later when we broke up, it was not because of our polyamorous relationship. We both wanted to move on, and so we broke up in peace. We are still friends. I came back to be in a monogamous relationship with my present lover.
For me, everything that happened in my life is like a journey. I started from a point where I was oblivious to what will happen later. I learnt from the ground and I changed a lot. I made a lot of mistakes. But those also made me learn more about my life.
Sometimes, I go back to the day when I had a fight with my ex-girlfriend who cheated on me. I felt hurt and suffered for many years. I couldn’t understand how people can love multiple people at the same time. I couldn’t understand why some people have more than one lover. This was until I fell in love with multiple people at the same time too. I learnt more about the many kinds of relationships from then on.
For me, changing my gender identity and sexual orientation is not getting into a trend like some people have accused me of. It has a meaning in my life. It has come from my personal experience, with suffering and it required me to open my mind, and more importantly to not judge other people. For me, this has been a process of learning and unlearning more about myself and life, and I am grateful for it.