Interview by Robyn Ochs
Apphia is one of the amazing individuals who responded to a call for writing for the second edition of Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World. If, after reading this interview, you are as impressed by Apphia as I am, you can read more about her in Getting Bi.
Robyn Ochs: Apphia, please tell us about yourself.
Apphia K: My name is Apphia, I was born in Dubai raised between there and mostly in India. I have just moved back home to live closer to my parents. I work in the music retail industry, currently as a manager. My passions are music, literature, cooking, driving, exploring cultures and doing quite a few things I don’t seem to have the time to do. I mostly network with local musicians and performers and put business and the art together on different levels. I’d love any job in the music field. The industry in India is growing fast and I’m right where it’s happening and loving every minute of it! I write in my spare time, though I usually just keep my compositions to myself or show them only to close friends. I intend on someday putting my works together and publishing it. Let’s see how that goes.
RO: Tell briefly the story of your coming out as bi. How did you become aware that you were bi? How old were you? Who did you tell? What happened?
AK: It was actually very accidental. No one but my first girlfriend knew that I was queer. Christmas of ‘07 I let it slip in front of my sister, her husband and a couple of cousins that I am bisexual. Unlike my cousins, my sister was very cool about it—I guess on some level she must’ve already known. She is supportive of me, although she did double check to make sure that this wasn’t “just a phase.” We’re closer now. I came out to my mother for the second time last year. I had told her I was gay when I was 17, but she was in denial and I just let that slip. Now that I just turned 24, which is “coming of age” in Indian society, my mum has started talking about me settling down. It’s a slow process of allowing her into my life again as a bisexual, letting her know that I’m still the same person she’s come to know me to be, and being clear that I don’t need a man to make me want to settle down. It might even be a woman and that it would be okay. Not easy, but okay. Our relationship is much better now, with all the honesty going around. Its brilliant!! I still have to come all the way out to my father, although I think on some level, he knows. I’m out to my friends, many of them left but some stayed. Its not the easiest, but the ones who have stuck with me have made it a little bit easier.
RO: What is your religious background, and what impact does this have on your life, and particularly on your comfort/ discomfort with coming out and being out?
AK: I was brought up in a family of staunch Christians. I studied a lot of Wicca, and learned that spirituality is a learning experience that never ends. Wicca actually helped me understand myself as a woman and come to terms with my sexuality. Now, I just go with the flow and feel what I feel, bad or good, and trust that no matter what I will always have the strength to deal with whatever comes my way in this life. And above all, unconditional love is divine. Right now, that fits perfectly with the “Love knows no Gender” part of being me!
RO: When did you first become a bisexual/gay rights activist, and what caused you to get involved?
AK: Coming out! I didn’t know that it was important, I didn’t know it was something that had to be done. I just wanted other women in my circle, in my community to know that there’s always someone to come talk to, even if its only myself.
RO: What resources are available for bisexuals in India (or specifically around Bangalore)?
AK: There are e-groups, and Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi have communities where people come together in person. These are mostly for gay men and/or lesbians and transgendered people. I haven’t yet found a community mainly for bisexuals. We’re usually bundled up with the queens or the dykes. I know of four bisexuals in the whole country.
RO: You recently went to your first pride parade, which was the first ever in Bangalore. What was it like?
AK: Liberating! I loved everything about being out, proud and loud about it! I can’t wait for pride this year. It was so comforting be amidst people just like me, who have in their own way experienced what I have, if not more. It felt reassuring to know that there was someone out there that I could turn to. Bisexuals didn’t really have a prominent place in Pride, but I guess first we get our discriminatory law repealed and then we celebrate Pride.
RO: Since this experience, have you stayed involved? What has that been like?
AK: I’ve had to move back to my hometown (Pune) because of circumstances that needed me to be closer to my parents. It feels like coming back to closet-town. I will be traveling to Delhi and Bangalore on occasion to meet with friends and be reminded of the community out there. Mumbai is closer and I have yet to take a drive down and meet with the women there. I have otherwise been unable to actually do something drastic, which is something I would love to get involved in.
RO: What value, if any, do you see in international activism, in keeping in touch with bi activists in other countries? Do you think the movement in India is/was inspired/influenced by movements in other countries, or has been an inspiration/influence on others?
AK: I think everything affects each other. Of course, if it weren’t for the community in San Francisco coming out in a big way, none of us would be where we are today. In this same way, once we get our law repealed, other countries will be brave enough to fight for their equal rights.
RESOURCES IN INDIA
Rainbow Pride Connexion: you can join this group through invite only. You have to know a dyke who can get you in. Their screening process ensures that only women get in, which, honestly.. is a relief!!
Good as You Bangalore: www.geocities.com/goodasyoubangalore
On Facebook: Queer Desis; Pink Delhi; LABIA
Queer Azaadi (Mumbai Based): queerazaadi.wordpress.com