(English) You've Got Mail! Letters Between An Older and A Younger Lesbian - Plain Text Version - Agents of Ishq

(English) You’ve Got Mail! Letters Between An Older and A Younger Lesbian – Plain Text Version

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How much has changed for urban women who love women in India? Sameera Iyengar, 49, a lesbian woman who grew up in 1980s India and Sarathy, 24, a queer woman growing up in the 2010s, write letters to each other about growing up queer, figuring out love, relationships, dating, community, family, self-knowledge. 

In their exchange we glimpse a history of being, a history of change, personal and social.

 

Hi Sameera,

Here goes the first letter!  I am terrible at writing physical letters hence I am relieved this is on email. My girlfriend has more than once written me a love letter (full-on romantic with her perfume sprayed on it too) and as hopeless as I am, my love letters to her have been on Whatsapp. In my defense, I am far more honest when I type things out. 

I will be honest. The oldest queer people I’ve had an actual conversation with are, perhaps, at the most, 30. Which I will say has left me quite comically desperate. You know how when you have just realized you’re gay and then every gay person you meet feels like finding water in a desert, except they’re human and it’s scary hence you only admire them from afar? I think once I genuinely befriended a few people my age who were queer, my curiosity shifted to older queer people. Where were they?

A list of crushes that emerged as a consequence of this curiosity

– All the people on old Gaysi podcasts. I remember all their voices by heart, which is very creepy of me.

– A older super cool and butch-looking queer artist who took a few classes in my college (to my despair I wasn’t in any of them). Every queer person in my batch had a crush on them. We’d grab people from their class and ask how do they teach, what do they say in class, etc etc.

– LABIA, a super historical (for me) queer collective that I had an encounter with at a zine fest which surprised me because I didn’t know they still existed. Let’s just say I nearly cried (but kept a straight face) when we did a zine swap. All those old zines, how could I not get emotional? 

The idea of queer history, lesbian history especially, moves me so much. I wonder if this feeling of being like a sponge ever fades? Did you have any of these obsessions with what other queer people are like or were like too and more importantly – do you still do? Or does kind of thing get sorted once you’re older?

Do you feel you know very few young queer women and hence are very curious what their lives are like? Awaiting your response on Sunday!

 

Signing off,

Le Younger Lesbian – Sarathy.

 

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Dear Sarathy,

How beautifully you put it – “every gay person you meet feels like finding water in a desert.” It often still feels like that to me, even though I’ve been out for almost three decades now. I don’t know how it was when you were in school, but when I was young, “gay” felt like a concept. We knew there were some such different people somewhere. And that it was not okay. As teens in a girls’ school where girl crushes on seniors abounded, there was something dangerously attractive about it as well.  

For me, even though I had my share of crushes, it only became real when Martina Navratilova came out publicly. I remember reading about her being a lesbian in The Telegraph. And I remember my father telling me that this is what happens when girls don’t properly identify with their gender. Not the words he used, but that was pretty much what he said. And I remember 12- or 13-year old me wondering why he felt it was important to say this to me. I was always very boyish, and he must have had some fears for me.

So I didn’t really expect to see any lesbians around. And when I fell head over heels with someone, I never expected it to have a future. What was normal was to be with a guy — even though in all my thought experiments, I could never see that happening (for instance, how can I possibly change my surname?!) And too many of the girls I’d known in my young days, despite having torrid love affairs with other girls, all finally chose to be socially “straight”. Those affairs are treated as phases, and are left silent amongst us — I respecting their married status, and they perhaps needing to keep it safe from prying eyes. 

In retrospect, I now know that there were gay people even amongst the adults I knew. I just didn’t know how to recognise them. There was gossip, rumours and also so much was unsaid. There was a certain staff member at school who went on to live with her partner after she retired. Girls gossiped but because they had respect for her, they also let it be. So all this existed in a strange liminal space, which I think was also why I never came out till I went abroad to college. I don’t like hiding myself … so I hid myself completely. If I wasn’t out, then I wouldn’t be hiding anything, right?

A few years after being in college — I was still in my early 20s, and finally out, I think — I was visiting home, and I once again opened The Telegraph to find an article on the Kashish film festival. I reread it many times. There was a gay film festival in India? (I don’t think the term queer was being used then). It was being written about in mainstream media? Had this really happened in such a short time? My head swam. 

So till date, when I meet yet another queer person, I still taste that joy of “finding water in a desert”. Just to know there is one more person there, who exists, and has embraced or at least acknowledged their gay identity — that feels really good. 

Young, queer people — whenever I meet any of you, I feel a smile in my heart. Because so many of you act like you have a haq in the world. I know there are many many queer people still struggling with their identity. I don’t mean to downplay that. But I truly never thought there’d be islands of light in my lifetime. 

 

Till later,

Sameera

 

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Hi Sameera!

 

I grew up on a staple diet of American rom-coms so I knew at a young age that men could be gay. But it’s only when I saw this one movie on TV, which was about a lesbian couple, did it hit me that girls could be gay too. 

I remember going around asking my friends if they approved of homosexuality. I used to think I was doing this survey out of curiosity. Then when I just a little bit started questioning my sexuality, I went to the extent of Googling “Am I gay?” “Am I a homoromantic heterosexual?” and what not. But all those years of my childhood and my teens — I did think of being gay as a ‘dangerously attractive concept’, one that exists in America. I never let it touch me.

Then in 12th grade, a girl in my class had a picture of an actress from The L Word (a super gay American series which an average 17-year-old wouldn’t have known of unless she had gone down the lesbian culture vortex of the internet) as her Whatsapp DP. I struck up a conversation about it and she was shocked I knew about it. And I… I felt the earth moving underneath me.  It wasn’t just a concept! It was real and it suddenly felt like I also had the option to be gay. Here was an Indian person who was a lesbian and also out of the closet. The phrase you used “islands of light” is so poetic, beautiful and true. She was like an island of blinding light. And ahem, I promptly fell for her. Which I guess, didn’t leave me with much choice but face my own reality. I still don’t know how she did it – she was barely 17, had a sort-of homophobic family (at that time) and was very much in the public eye at school and yet she spoke about her sexuality with so much clarity. She definitely knew she had a haq in the world and I still marvel about it sometimes.

Funnily, the only other thing in my life that moved me similarly and took such a powerful trajectory in my life was discovering feminism. I discovered it through (again) American teen blogs but finding feminism felt like another island of light. I found a world full of explanations of myself and the world, and I was never the same again. I guess it’s a kind of queerness too, isn’t it? Until then, my dream was to be a fashion designer and travel the world. And suddenly over a couple years, I changed so much, so fast and what I wanted to do changed too. But of course, sudden changes have a price but perhaps that’s a story for another letter.

I think hard about applying feminism and queerness in my life most in my relationship with my family. In matters of love – kindness, respect, a feeling of equalness come easy. In family – it feels like it has to be fought for. I feel like I’m forever trying to convince my parents that marriage is not the only future for my very talented and independent sister, to be genuinely understanding of women like my mom (there is so much insidious, casual belittling) and to stand up to my father (without crossing any limits).

I am very excited to hear about your college days. Was it radically different to be queer abroad and did it feel strange to come back? 

I also have another, perhaps, very personal question — does your father know you are queer now? My father knows about me but we’ve never openly spoken about it and I often find myself wondering what he is thinking. 

 

Regards,

Le Younger Lesbian – Sarathy

 

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Dear Sarathy,

 

Thirteen. That is when I first fell head over heels for a woman. I didn’t know that was what was happening. Every sense I had was alert to her presence. I was always looking out for her and I felt on top of the world when I was around her. When it became clear to both of us that this wasn’t just a schoolgirl crush, but a strong attraction, she, being older, told me she felt responsible and that we must not act further on this attraction. My response? “How can it be wrong when it feels so good?” I was young enough then, that the world really was that simple.

As I grew older, I realised that I found women attractive. I was always boyish and I’ve realised many women like to flirt with women who are boyish. Maybe we are ‘safe boys’ for straight women! I had my fair share of that in school, and of course I felt quite chuffed about it. Especially because I didn’t think of myself as particularly attractive — so this attention from really lovely women was more than wonderful. We were a very expressive school — girls held hands, put their arms around each other, leaned back on each other while sitting. We used to literally pile on top of each other whenever we had the opportunity. So I could easily live in this liminal space — acknowledging I felt good, but not really acknowledging that it was attraction – playing a sort of game with myself. When I was 17, Class XI, getting leadership positions in school – I remember this strange conversation I had with myself where I said, “I am completely okay with homosexuality. There is nothing wrong with it. But I cannot be homosexual.” So began a chapter of strong attractions and stopping just short. It was hard and confusing and exhilarating, all at the same time. Many long, passionate, confused letters were exchanged, pronouncing love and walking that dangerous line. 

I look back now and think perhaps that’s when I learned to hide myself. 

I come from a family where my parents have been extraordinarily open. I’m naturally sporty, my brother showed an inclination for dancing, and we were both encouraged to go for it. We were a typical enough family that I don’t think I’d have discussed sex with my parents, and this kind of attraction — it had to be hidden. I was doing homework at the dining table once, and there was a letter lying open, that began “my darling…” My mom pounced on it, and I explained it away saying, oh, that’s just how we all talk in school. As much as I was knowing and not knowing, I think my parents also knew and preferred not to know.

When I went to the US, to college, and joined the soccer team in my freshman year, and realised that almost half the girls on my team were out lesbians (it was funny, the other half were sorority girls!) I can’t find the words to explain what that meant to me. Talk about light! In my mind, those soccer fields are bathed in light. 

My soccer coach was lesbian – a bit older, not overtly out, but out enough. My basketball coach was lesbian – she was VERY out. This was the world I had walked in to. It took me another two and a half years to come out, and I think I came out not only because I had this environment, but also because there was never any pressure to come out. Instead, I was invited to brunches, where most people were lesbian, and I got to enjoy their company while they sat openly and lovingly with their girlfriends. I played in lesbian soccer leagues. It was all very easy and normal – and that was very important for me. I needed it to be okay.

I used to live in a co-ed fraternity – thirty of us in one big house, and these people were my family. I remember looking into the mirror one morning while getting ready, and saying to myself “Who are you fooling, Sameera? You’re gay.” And that was that. (It helped that I was attracted to someone then). I told my friends in the house, and one of my dearest friends – a very straight man – came with me to a lesbian club for my 21st birthday. I think a few other straight friends came too. And of course the woman I was getting to like. It was a dingy bar, quite close to MIT campus. There was hardly anyone inside but they were all women, and clearly lesbian. I know we drank and danced a bit. Today I’d probably feel that bar was a bit of an anticlimax, but at that time, I was just thrilled! Not only was it okay, my friends were going to stand with me while I explored this world I now dared to enter. I feel enormously lucky to have had that gentle, nurturing environment. 

I finally started going out with the girl I was attracted to. She was from Wellesley – I mention this because there was a thing about MIT students – presumed boys – dating Wellesly students – girls, as they are an all-girls college, so I just find it funny. Stereotype but not quite! MIT and Wellesley students could take courses at each other’s colleges, and I met her as part of theatre crowd at MIT – same classes, same rehearsals. She had cast me in a play she was directing – Marsha Norman’s Getting Out – dealt with my tantrums at wearing a dress as my costume (she let me wear jeans!), and I guess we just got closer.  She wasn’t new to the gay scene or to the city. My relationship with her was my first eye-opening step out of the college scene. I saw performances I wouldn’t have known existed, in places I wouldn’t have known existed. I got introduced to a lesbian scene with lesbian terminology (“lipstick lesbian” was coming into vogue as a term I think!), to lesbian porn, to the lesbian love for Madonna and KD Lang. It was fascinating … but it was an American lesbian scene, often very white. I always felt like a (welcome) guest. I subsequently came out to my friends in India, and my parents. But that’s another letter I think. 

I feel like sexuality is you – the nature of the attractions you feel – while feminism and queerness have to be arrived at. Nowadays I wonder if sexuality is also something you keep arriving at through life. 

I understand bits and pieces of the politics and try to live up to them. I hesitate before applying these labels to myself. I feel other people would say that there is a lot of me that is still ‘heteronormative’. When this comment comes from queer and/or feminist folks, it often feels like a judgement. It doesn’t bother me hugely, mostly because I’m a bit stubborn. My whole life has been on the margins, not just because I am queer  but also I guess because I am a bit of a nerd, and I think I’m comfortable there, intermittently stepping in and out of various spaces. For me, what matters, is to contribute towards a world where we can be true to ourselves and have space for others. Kindness matters too. And when a shift feels right, I work on that. I see myself as a work in progress.

 

Till next time,

Sameera

 

Hi Sameera, 

 

Your experiences of being in lesbian soccer leagues sound like an absolute fantasy! I must clarify that I don’t mean that in a creepy way. When I went to Sweden for an exchange programme, I attended a few roller derby matches, which is this underground sport played mostly by queer women. It was the friendliest space I had witnessed in a long time. They even had a kids’ team! It seemed like some gay feminist utopia (at least from a distance). 

 

Perhaps my slight envy comes from the fact that I am a bit of a failure at finding community, that of queer women especially. A long time after I was out and proud and all that, I hardly had any queer friends. Some of it comes from my being socially inept, and also because except for parties and Pride events (where I can manage to make only acquaintances), it didn’t feel like there were any queer spaces to regularly go to where I could get to know people at my own pace, over extended periods of contact. It took me all 4 years of college to finally find a support group for young people, and there were barely one or two queer women there. So the idea of creating a queer space around a sport seemed revolutionary. 

When you came back to India, how did you find other queer women, not just for dating but also just for making friends? From what I’ve heard, (I may sound funny or rude here) it feels like private parties were invented by lesbians. Or private FB groups, these days, I guess. Most of the times I really connected with other queer women, it was through Tinder, so I can’t imagine what one would do without it. 

When you said feminism and queerness has to be arrived at, did you mean that un/learning the ways of the world is a lifelong process? Because it does feel like a school I’m forever attending and I feel like every few years I realise how wrong I am. 

If you mean we keep discovering who we are in phases – I feel that too. I used to like boys solidly up to 8th grade and then it just changed. Sometimes it feels like I could like men again but that I chose to not be with them. Maybe 40 years down the line I could like men too – wholeheartedly and with interest (but do not tell my mother or it’ll rekindle her hope of getting me married!). In some ways, I feel sexuality can be a bit of a choice, just one that we shouldn’t have to justify.

Looking back do you ever feel like those early years of secrecy affected your later relationships?

 

Le Younger Lesbian,

Sarathy

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Dear Sarathy,

 

I am the last person you want to ask about how I found other queer women … I have done a really bad job of that. It’s only in recent years, when I’ve made some close friends through my work in the arts who were feminists, who in turn had friends who were lesbians, that I started meeting queer women. Till then, the only lesbian I met sort of regularly was a friend from my school days who is also out. Like you, regular contact over time is how I make friends. I’m not great at parties and I’m also terrible at small talk. I got on a dating app when a friend encouraged me to. I haven’t been able to use it. I don’t think I’ve ever been particularly uncomfortable making overtures, but I have zero gaydar. Also I can’t tell when someone is interested in me. Denseness is an unfortunate quality that I have!

I keep wishing there was a lesbian soccer or basketball or even chess league here. I’d find that so much easier. My American friend who moved to France joined a gay cycling club. Some of his closest friends, and his wonderful partner (now husband) of more than a decade, came about because they all went cycling together to all kinds of places. Of course they go off on other activities together, meet more people, and the circle just grows. In tribute to that club, they all arrived at their wedding in beautiful blue suits, on cycles! Last year they had twins (surrogacy) and they had a get-together of gay dads with their kids. 

Carrom! Maybe we should start something like this – are you up for it ? 😉  A social space, where you’d come together just to play. It would give you time to get to know people. Dating would be one possibility. It could have its own online space, so anyone visiting or just out or new could drop in. It would make it easier to find community. Oh such a dream – don’t know if it will happen here in my lifetime! Hopefully yours.

You asked how the secrecy affected me. The biggest difference in that first relationship in the US was that we could be a couple out in the open and I could celebrate it. My friends knew, my professors knew, my theatre colleagues knew. 

In India, a lot of secrecy, or rather keeping it quiet and letting it go happened because I didn’t want to make my parents’ lives difficult. Once I get to know people better, I slip it into conversations. It does affect relationships – you are not always treated as a couple, and that can be hurtful to the other person. I’ve not been very good at handling this, and given that my work has often been public, it can’t have been easy for my partner at the time. 

I’m also curious to hear how you marry your own grasp of feminism and queerness – which seems to have been far more conscious than mine – to the way you live your life.

 

Cheers!

Sameera

 

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Dear Sameera,

 

A Lesbian Board Game Night sounds great! Especially for people like me who have forever been embarrassingly terrible at sports. I’d love to pile on if you start one! Bangalore has a football team for queer women and once a year Mumbai has Queer Games on the beach. There’s a badminton tournament that Gaysi hosts too! But nothing that’s regular. I love your story of the gay cycling club! I do hope that in my lifetime I get to see more queer families and queer spaces. 

Those old LABIA zines I loved, the covers were fun in an unpretentious way and had a very community-made feel. Many people wrote in it like they were speaking to their friends. You know how some stories need a close-knit space to come out in? And not a platform, per se? There was a story about a woman teaching her mom to read, speak, etc again after she got brain damage. Others saw it as a burden, but she saw it so differently, akin to the joys of bringing up a child. Very queer, na?

I struggle with labelling myself as a feminist too. I hardly ever say it out loud (and thankfully I don’t need to). Somehow it feels like by saying it out loud I’m comparing myself to all the people in the women’s movement who did substantial work. But at the same time I don’t want to say I am not because it is important to me. 

I relate to what you said about kindness. It matters to me. I want to be able to make things that give people a sense of relief and an opportunity to be kinder. It makes me uncomfortable to face someone trying to impose some kind of superiority. I see Kindness to be a sort of antagonist to Power. I don’t think I’m built to be an activist but I want to always work in change-making spaces. My logic is that if I get to spend most of my day working towards something I know helps even a little bit, I’ll sleep easier. Work harder without inhibition. 

With regards to coming out, I made sure to be out to my closest family and friends as soon as was possible. It was also a matlabi move perhaps because I needed people to turn to whenever I was unrequitedly in love, again and again hahaha. I’ve had the remarkable luck of having very few homophobic people around me. I usually just slip it into conversations (like talking about meeting other women on Tinder, jabbering about some queer movie or the other) but mostly it’s unspoken. A lot of my personal work has been about being queer so if someone Googles me or follows me on social media, they will know I’m gay. That’s probably how most people/friends in college knew too. 

With extended family it’s unspoken. Other relatives that I have a tricky, distant relationship with – I’d prefer they not know about my personal life at all, you know? I am okay with letting it slide because in most spaces I don’t really hesitate to talk about my queerness if I feel like it. Here I have that young, queer haq wala attitude. I come out whenever I feel like it and feel safe. And I end up talking obsessively about queer things anyway – sabko pata chal hi jata hain. 

Oh and that first lesbian friend of mine you is living her life like any other person my age. She’s been involved in some queer initiatives, works for a young people & politics kind of organization. She had her first girlfriend in college. That’s the last thing I know about her personal life. She doesn’t talk about her sexuality or private life publicly often but it doesn’t seem to be in a bad, repressed way. She seems good only and I do hope her parents have accepted her.

Did you ever want to get married? Do you still want to? 

I have this fantasy that someday there will be a queer community center in every neighborhood where you can just walk in, sign up an for clubs and make friends. Maybe when I’m older, finding a close-knit community (queer and otherwise) won’t be so elusive. That’s my biggest dream really, more than work or marriage or anything.

 

Regards,

Le Younger Lesbian – Sarathy

 

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Dear Sarathy,

 

I had never fantasised about marriage. But I was with someone for almost 10 years – I met her while on PhD research in India – and we did a sort of ceremony early on. I wanted to celebrate with friends, but we did it equally because I was denied the social right to that ceremony. If I was straight, and the ceremony was expected, I most probably would have refused – and either done a court marriage or refused marriage completely. I am laughing as I write this to you, because I am seeing myself as that kid who does things because ‘how dare you tell me I can’t do something’!

My cousin, brother and close friends put together the ceremony, with even my aunt pitching in at some point with some beautiful alpana and Brahma Samaj vows. It was all very eclectic – people threw in ideas and we picked what we wanted. I had my close friends and friends from university, and some family, and my bosses from the theatre magazine I worked part-time at flew out. My friend commandeered her boyfriend’s uncle’s empty house in Delhi and did it up beautifully. We made lots of gestures towards marriage ceremonies, including a havan, which my friends did not quite know how to light so we were all smoked out of the room! It was hilarious, warm and beautiful, though our life together wasn’t exactly the stuff of dreams. 

Back then I was pretty traditional. I wanted to find a partner to live my life with. I still remain a romantic and love musicals and happy endings, but I am no longer sure I want to share life in the same way. Partly because I love my house now, and can’t imagine redoing it to make space for someone permanently! A constant visitor with whom I feel wonderfully comfortable and like to chat and cook and eat and chill with would be nice. And just get a hug from when I am feeling totally overwhelmed! So maybe I’d like to live with a really close friend and have romantic relationships elsewhere – who knows!  

 

Cheers,

Sameera

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Dear Sameera,

 

I am afraid of marriage, but mostly because of the straight ones I’ve seen. I also feel too young to think of forevers. If any relationship of mine ever goes on so long, then maybe I’ll have a gathering like yours – to celebrate both the relationship and a shared community of friends and family. The popular perception is that young queer people reject marriage but with same-sex marriage, I see the potential to redefine the institution. Overall I’d say I have only 7.5% shaadi potential. But I’ll never ever marry a man, even if I suddenly fall for one. 

The year or two I was on Tinder, changed my life. It was a miracle for a lonely, awkward person like me who finds it hard to stir up conversations, especically in a group. It taught me to take love less seriously and with more curiosity instead. I learnt to speak to queer women without nervousness. It allowed me to see people as people without that social anxiety. It allowed me to discover worlds and random friends beyond my insulated art school scene. I got my heart broken, got career advice, had the some of the nicest, most intimate conversations with other queer women. 

Thing is there are no expectations in online dating until you state them. If someone says directly ki I want casual sex or friendship then you know what you’re saying yes to. If nothing is said, then it’s open! You need not worry coz it could end anywhere. Maybe you’ll only like the person as a friend. Maybe if it feels like a date so you can think of taking it in a romantic direction. Maybe you can talk only thoda online and then say that you’d like to meet in person. It’s full of maybes.

With online dating, what problems have you run into? Perhaps I can help? I’ve always liked being people’s Tinder cheerleader! 

 

Regards,

Le Younger Lesbian – Sarathy

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Dear Sarathy,

 

The problem I run into in online dating is ME! For starters, I can’t bring myself to say yes or no to someone I don’t know. I recently very bravely got onto OKCupid, and immediately fell silent. What do you say when you only have a picture in front of you? When I got my profile, a bunch of people very nicely reached out, and I immediately became self-conscious. What are their expectations? It’s an alien space to me … I have no idea how to behave. It’s pretty funny now that I am relating it to you … but there you go. I swam a lot as a kid. Some pools I loved, others I swam in because I had to or they were the only ones available, but they just weren’t right. I guess the digital space for me is the pool that has not yet come to feel right.

What do you want in terms of relationships?

 

Regards,

Sameera

 

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Hi Sameera!

 

For the longest time I thought I just wasn’t someone who could be attractive to someone else, let someone who could be loved. I had a long string of unrequited crushes, confusing situationships – my singleness felt like it was going on forever. 

But with help from friends, a great college counsellor, Tinder, and getting into my first relationship — I realized that of course, everyone gets a chance at love and sex. But late beginnings also mean I’ve not thought about relationships so much (I’m in my first one right now). 

My first few rejections weren’t outright rejections but more like realizing that my attempts to know someone more closely were being stonewalled by someone’s lack of interest. Or I realized they were straight. I coped by being very sad and falling for other people. 

When I started telling people I liked them (and when I first started getting rejected/disinterest/ghosting on Tinder) it took every rejection to get better at coping. My friends often help me to see someone else’s point of view instead of wallowing in self-pity. I also learnt to ask people if they are interested in me and teaching myself to unconditionally accept what they say. Focusing on being clear but also kind and polite helped. Nowadays I don’t feel I need to get that rejection confirmation stamp to move on. I’m able to sense if someone just isn’t interested and not pursue it further.

All I know is that I’m a bit of a romantic (but a lone wolf too) and a very regular texter. Whether it’s Tinder or real life, one must always be true to your romantic self na? 

 

Regards,

Le Younger Lesbian – Sarathy.

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Dear Sarathy,

 

I respond so much to people on the energy between us. When I meet someone, I know when I am ‘in deep like’. It’s rarely verbal. I know this probably sounds old-fashioned but I have always known my truth from that connection. There are people in my life who I have known have to be in my life. I’ve recognised them in an instant – they walk into a room or I see their smile, and it’s like I know them, without yet having got to know them. I immediately fall for them, and with many of them, I remember that feeling, “this one is special”. I am not talking specifically romance but perhaps these relationships have been the deepest form of love I’ve known. I am thinking of the pools I liked as a child, not the ones I just ended up swimming in. As I write this to you, I can feel the coolness of the water, the perfect temperature, the smell. Some pools are just right to swim in.

What do you imagine the future to be? What do you imagine yourself writing to a young lesbian when you are old?

 

Regards,

Sameera

 

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Hi again,

 

Now is probably the worst time to imagine a future. But I’d like the future to be like…Sweden? A nice government that supports the existence of a nice national queer organization. Small, casual (and not casual) spaces. Politics-sholitics is still there but people easily accept your desire to just live, love and laugh also.  But I really don’t know what a future looks like, to be honest. I feel queerness in India is so complicated, so attached to class, caste, how women are treated, ruralness, urbanness – all these other things. So it’s difficult to imagine it separately.

If I had to write to a younger lesbian, I’d tell her to give as much importance to her private world as the rest of the world. Our life is not just about coming out or changing the world (ye toh waise bhi one woman job kaha hai? Don’t give so much importance to yourself, beta) or continuously telling our stories to others. You should let yourself fall in and out of love, do things and know people organically too. 

I’d be the old lady asking young lesbians to have fun and go on Tinder. And grab us older lesbians and take us to their parties too.

 

Cheers,

Sarathy.

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