A popular film star who works across the regional languages is rumoured to be interested in same-sex relationships. Sources report that his wife apparently has even caught him red-handed twice on dating apps, which he passed off as fake accounts. Another rumour, a film star’s son-in-law was outed as a bisexual, bringing an end to what was a fairy-tale like marriage.
Moving away from celeb lives, Supriya* (name changed) had a marriage that two cities celebrated with aplomb. Her husband, an investment banker, was also her high-school sweetheart. It looked like paradise that the couple were living in. They had two beautiful children and were “well-settled”.
But there was something very unsettling for Supriya as she moved into her third year of marriage. “I love my husband. There is no issue in my marriage. But I’ve realised I have feelings for women and I want to find my happiness,” she told this writer.
Men also can get besotted by the same sex; there are instances of them moving away from their wives to find love in the arms of another man. For instance, a couple from Coimbatore lived a very happy life for over 15 years. Then, one fine day, the husband told his wife that he had feelings for another man and that he’d like to move on. The wife and society were shocked. The couple separated.
Such cases are increasingly heard of, where marriages are breaking because one of the partners is realising he/she is bisexual.
Bisexuality, not a bad word
Dr Spoorthi Arun, M.D, American Board of Internal Medicine, and managing director of Promed Hospitals, says, “Now people are bold and vocal about their bisexuality. It isn’t a bad word anymore. Even society has opened up to the fact that people’s sexuality can be more fluid. I’ve seen quite a few individuals, both men and women, articulating their sexuality and making those choices to find happiness. It’s not taboo anymore for someone to say ‘I am out of love’ and then for them to seek their own path.”
Sai Lakshmi, whose friend left her marriage and relocated to Canada, says, “Bisexuality has become common. My friend suffered in her perfectly happy marriage because of lack of intimacy. It’s so important to have intimacy and she never felt it for her husband of 8 years. She then found love with a woman across the seas and they’re both happily married now.”
Films and television soaps promote very conservative portraits of affairs with the opposite sex and mostly by a lustful man. But according to Dr Mini Rao, a relationships counsellor, women are now able to communicate their preference for the same-sex partner and aren’t afraid to stake claim to their happiness, even if it means leaving their husbands.
“There’s a need for bisexuality to be understood. They can make great wives and husbands. They can be very nice people and excellent company, but if they are unable commit sexually to one person and it’s their right to opt out,” she says. “In my experience, 1 in 30 marriages or so have partners who’re actively bisexual and have parallel relationships.”
Normalising sexual preferences
According to senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam, there is far less stereotype attached to women who’re friendly and cosy with each other. “Women are now more financially independent and can walk out of their marriages. When two women start living together as single working women, the society scorns less as opposed to openly homosexual men. There is far less taboo associated with unmarried women living together,” she elaborates.
“Even in a judgement recently delivered by honourable Justice N Anand Venkatesh, who said it had to be dealt with more sensitivity and empathy since it appeared to be a sample case of how the society was grappling, even at this age, to come to terms with same sex orientation. So, as we evolve and various sects in society find their voice, we need to look at an amicable way forward”.
Harrish Iyer, an equal rights activist and opinion-shaper, believes that even in South Indian culture, there are many women and men who are unable to settle in their primary relationship because of their love towards the same-sex.
“It’s very common for Indian families to raise hell about it, but the individuals these days are ending their marriages and choosing to live together. I feel we must respect someone’s decision if they’re out of love in their marriage and want to move on. Everyone has a right to their sexual choices and liberation in love.”
Tina Vincent, a designer, says she’s noticed a lot of people in society now being able to express themselves more freely about their gender roles. “While some move out of their home and leave their husbands, many secretively continue their friendship with another woman. A lot of this can also do with years of tolerating a love-less marriage and lack of interest in their husband,” adds Tina.
“Women are now able to communicate their preference for the same-sex partner and aren’t afraid to stake claim to their happiness, even if it means leaving their husbands. There is a need for bisexuality to be understood. They can make great wives and husbands. They can be very nice people and excellent company but if they are unable to commit sexually to one person, then it’s their right to opt out. Men have always been a lot more open about their bisexuality but slowly but surely women are coming out too.” — Dr Mini Rao, a relationships counsellor