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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

As she grew in her love, I grew with her: Recounts mother of a bisexual daughter

My daughter patiently explained it all to me -transgender, bisexual, gender fluid, non-binary, asexual, gender curious and many more

pune Updated: Sep 08, 2019 17:23 IST
Ritu Goyal Harish
Ritu Goyal Harish
Hindustan Times, Pune
Ritu Goyal Harish (left) along with her daughter Oorja Gonepavaram.
Ritu Goyal Harish (left) along with her daughter Oorja Gonepavaram.(HT PHOTO)

When my daughter Oorja Gonepavaram was just 13, she had looked at a giant hoarding of a female actor and said to me, “Maa, I think I have lesbian feelings for her.” Even as my heart raced, I looked at her and said, “That’s okay, baby. I think all of us feel the same. She’s so gorgeous!” We both laughed it off.

Four years later, in the most offhand manner, minus the drama you’d expect, she said to me,“I am bisexual.”I wasn’t shocked or surprised. I was concerned because Article 377 had meant that this was a criminal act. I also wanted to know if she was sure, to save her the heartbreak later.

For the next few months, after she came out to me we had multiple conversations. Despite my education, exposure and awareness, I was illiterate in the matters of all sexual orientations that were not heterosexual. Until her coming out, I was conditioned to think that bisexual was a term used by those who wanted to copulate with both sexes, to basically have their cake and eat it too.

During one such conversation I asked her, “Does being bisexual mean you’ll end up with a man?”

“May be. Depends on who I fall in love with.”

“Will you ever change, or stop being bisexual?”

“No, maa. You cannot change sexual orientation. You’re born with it.”

She patiently explained it all to me -transgender, bisexual, gender fluid, non-binary, asexual, gender curious and many more. As I began to familiarise myself with these terms, I slowly learnt and realised that these were real people, like you and me, with thinking brains and beating hearts and desires and wants, and all of that. The only difference was that society considered them to ‘not’ be normal, only because what they were and what they felt, did not conform to the societies conditioning, upbringing and value systems.

After my eighteen-year-old fell in love, I realised what she was going through. She was in love - the same kind of love I’d felt for the man I’d met in the ’90s and married and who is her father; the same kind of love that they say can move mountains; the same kind of love that we think can only happen between a man and a woman.

As she grew in her love, I grew with her - in my understanding of her and what being LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) really means. “Love is Love” the LGBTQ slogan – I finally understood its depth and its message.

As a parent, I’ve always believed that the end goal for us is to see our children happy. As the mother of a bisexual child, I’ve realised that the pursuit of this end goal cannot be conditional. Only when we give our children our unconditional support, love and acceptance can we hope for them to have fulfilling, happy and enriching lives.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 17:22 IST