Just as Navdeep Sharma was coming into his sexuality, answers at his college library in Delhi University were in short supply. There was absolutely no material on bisexuality. “It didn’t stock anything on bisexuality. These days, of course, the internet has made things much easier. But it wasn’t so when I was in college 10 years ago,” he says.
Sharma launched the virtual community, The Bi Collective, last year, and organised their first “physical meeting” at Nazariya, a Delhi-based grassroots intersectional alliance, on September 23 — recognised and celebrated as Bi Visibility Day. “The idea was to first create a set of resources for bi people, and a space where they can come and talk openly. There are resources dedicated to the queer community but hardly any that deal with the issues of bi people. We wrote to resource groups outside India and they sent us books, reports, videos on identity, health, and desire, among others,” he says.
The resource material was converted into a mini-library that was last stationed at the American Centre on Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg. “There is not much of an understanding about bisexuality, which is why there isn’t enough acceptance and this extends to the LGBTQI+ community as well. They are considered to be half-in and half-out,” says Sharma, who has been active in the Delhi queer community since 2010.
“Part of the problem could be attributed to the way Indian society is. Bi men have privilege because they can pass for straight and can eventually get married and have kids.” And for bi women? “It is much the same. Even families treat bi women the same way because there is comfort in the possibility of marriage,” says Sharma.
At the Bi Collective meetings, faces change every time. While old members continue to share their stories, the new ones find safety to question, debate and reflect. “Once you are surer of your identity, it gets less easy for people to gaslight you.”