Women Looking for Women in India - Where to Find Them

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Lesbians in India are conspicuous by their invisibility in the public narratives. Faced with  multiple levels of marginalization of gender and sexuality, lesbians have been relegated to living as shadows, not daring to voice their desire and choices in a society which cannot even tolerate the burgeoning selfhood of ‘straight’, educated and professional women. It is only now in the past few years that lesbians have acquired the strength to come out in the open or at least look for partners of their sexual disposition.

TIP: Browse photo profiles of lesbian single women.

Join a group

To a great extent, the impetus for the 2009 landmark Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing homosexuality in India was provided by LGBT activist and support groups. In the above-mentioned court case it was Naz Foundation, a Delhi-based activist group, which filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court in 2001, seeking legalization of homosexual intercourse between consenting adults. In India, where even a straight girl going to a bar or nightclub on her own at night remains vulnerable to sexual violence, the concept of bars and lesbian singles clubs for lesbians is a distant dream. It is only now that a few bars and clubs in cities like Bombay and Delhi have thrown open their doors to gay clientele or at least started hosting a weekly or bi-monthly gay nights. Even then, these events are crowded with men and there is virtually no space here – whether physical or psychological – for women seeking same-sex love. So if you are a lesbian in India, your best chances of meeting other women for love or companionship lie in exploring lesbian support groups and associations. There are now several in bigger cities of the country. The decriminalization of homosexuality has made it slightly easier for women to join such groups and express their sexuality. In New Delhi one such group is Sanginiset up in 1997 under the umbrella of The Naz Foundation (India) Trust. The group holds support meetings every week to discuss lesbian issues, where women in love with women can share their experiences and talk openly about their sexuality in a supportive space. Apart from this, the group also provides information, counseling, support, help and advice, through operating a telephone help line service, for lesbians and women exploring their sexuality. In Kolkata a support group for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women is Sappho, named after the legendary character of ancient Greek literature known for same-sex feminine love. Though the group started out with the goal to provide a safe space for women with same sex preference, gradually it moved into a rights-oriented movement to fight discrimination and hatred against marginalized women with same sex preference. Established in June 2007, the Lesbian Association of India (LAI) is a United Kingdom-based organization working to support lesbian and bisexual women in India. Though based outside the country, LAI intends to be the first organization of its kind which openly plans to provide networking and support services to the smaller towns and cities across India. Sangama and Sakhi are other associations which offer weekly group meetings for lesbians, thus combating feelings of isolation and giving them an opportunity to meet like-minded women while having open discussions about their sexuality.  They further provide ’safe spaces’, or private niches that substitute for the lack of public space afforded to lesbians so if you are looking to meet women interested in same sex love, try and find out what lesbian support groups are operating from within or near your city. Attending meetings and networking with its members will not only help you come across other women with similar sexual orientation but will help you cope better with feelings of alienation and discrimination in a mainstream heterosexual society.

Support a cause

Even if you do not have the time or inclination to be a full time member of a lesbian support group, try and keep track of lesbian-themed events taking place in your city. Meetings, marches and workshops addressing LGBT issues are now held more often than before. Even in cities like Chennai, which is still known to be deeply conservative, lesbians and bisexuals are coming out of the shadows to express their right to love and live as they choose to. In March 20091, More than 40 lesbians in the city came out in the open and attended the first support group meeting held under the aegis of Indian Community Welfare Organisation (ICWO). Even in smaller cities like Madurai, Bhubaneshwar and Thrissur have been having their own Pride parades. On 29 July 2012 Madurai celebrated the Asia’s first international GenderQueer pride parade and the Alan Turing Rainbow Festival organized by Gopi Shankar of Srishti Madurai. These events are great ways to both support a cause and meet other women who  are interested in same-sex love.  Best of all, it will bring you in touch with like-minded men and women and should you choose a partner among them, your relationship will be based on even stronger ground.

Go online

However coming out in support of a cause is not every person’s cup of tea. And in a society like India’s where community and social disapproval can be quite harsh, many lesbians especially those from smaller cities and towns would prefer less open ways of connecting. And it is here that dating sites can be a godsend.  Lesbians in lndia looking for partners love can sign up with dating sites which specifically cater to this niche group. Even here choices are highly limited as compared to lesbian dating sites in the west but some like thepinksofa, mingle2.com and onelove.net may be worth exploring. If you don’t wish to, you may bypass submitting your photo on such a site but then this may cut down on the number of responses. Again if you are keen to have a real relationship, try and look for contacts within your city which will enable you and your date to meet up.

Explore the world of Arts and culture

Films, fiction, documentaries, theater and visual art have often been harnessed to the support of important causes in various times and places across the world. In India too, free-thinking individuals, human rights groups and LGBT associations are waking up to the power of art activism through which they can discuss pertinent issues and demand for rights. You too can keep a watch for events in the world of arts and culture to meet other women supportive of same-sex love. Films such as ’Sancharram’ and publications by lesbians living and writing abroad, such as Ruth Vanita, have successfully identified lesbian love as an important part of India’s past and integral to India’s future as a complex and diverse society. In 2011, the country’s only Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, titled Kashish kicked off in Mumbai. Cities like New Delhi and Kolkata have universities and colleges where workshops and amateur theatrical productions on alternate sexuality are regularly hosted. Attending such events and frequenting these venues will not only help you feel invigorated in a liberal and human context but if lucky, you may even find a partner to accompany you in your artistic musings.

Reference:

  1. The Times of India – City lesbians come out in the open