This is the story of an Indian girl who came out as Demisexual to her family.
Disclaimer: Name changed for privacy concerns.
When Simran came out to her family about her sexuality and her mental health issues, she was bombarded with questions like ‘what will others think?’ ‘We want to see you married.’ ‘Who will take care of you when you are old?’ ‘Don’t you want us to be happy? We are hurt because of you.’
These are the same questions that Simran feared to answer and forced herself in a self-destructive behaviour. But Simran later with the support of her therapist and friends who supported her was able to explain to her parents about her sexuality.
Simran says that it is not only her parents but these are the questions that comes from ever conservative Indian family and that is because they make one’s personal life all political. Simran wants to reach out to others who wish to come out to their parents and reassure them that their mental health is important.
Simran said that she has been in love only twice and both the time it was the people she shared strong friendship and emotional bond. Simran described that she was not sexually attracted to anyone unless she had a deep emotional bond with them. She said that she has rarely felt sexual attraction to someone.
Simran said that she learnt that sexual attraction and romantic attraction were different from one other. Simran said that it made sense only when she was romantically attracted to one of her female friends. Simran said, “It was as if I were in love but without the sexual attraction part. I later realised, when it came to a romantic relationship, that gender doesn’t matter to me. It looked like I was panromantic, but heterosexual – sexually attracted only to persons of opposite sex. Having said that, sexuality is fluid and I am still exploring mine.”
Simran said that she later learnt about primary and secondary sexual attraction. Primary sexual attraction is what you feel towards others based on their personality, looks, intelligence. Secondary sexual attraction is what you feel with the other person when you develop an emotional bond with them. Most people experience both primary and secondary sexual attraction. Simran as a Demisexual often experiences only secondary sexual attraction.
Simran said that most difficult conversation she had was with her father as he was urging her to get married. Simran explained that while exploring her sexuality she can commit to someone and get married. She said that engaging in a sexual relationship with her partner would not be easy and possible for her and that it would become risky. “One can always argue that it works for most people. But what about those for whom it does not? Are they doomed to suffer in silence because society refuses to have such conversations? You are by default assumed to be heterosexual. What do such assumptions and subsequent coerced marriages do to persons of non-conforming sexualities? I told him that I would marry when I want, who I want and how I want,” Simran said.
She said that when she told her parents about her sexuality and that she was undergoing a therapy for anxiety. She said that unlike wester countries, parents here do not talk to their children about mental health. “It is rarely discussed just as sexuality.” Simran said that her repeated conversation with her parents made them accept her decision.
Simran said, “I wonder if the fact that throughout my life, I searched for safe spaces where I won’t be judged but cherished and loved for who I am has anything to do with my demi sexuality. Growing up, friendship was the only safe space I knew. And I need to feel emotionally safe to allow myself to experience attraction.”