Hindustan Times (Delhi) : 2019-02-10

NATION : 22 : 22

NATION

20 hindustantimes S U N DAY H I N DU STA N T I M E S , N EW D E L H I F E B R U A RY 1 0 , 2 0 1 9 THE SPORTS FAN AND HIS EMBRACE OF TORMENT for SPINOFF n is NEW HUES OF THE RAINBOW IT’S ALL IN THE LABEL There are many new sexual identity tags online, and experts in India neither know nor recognise them all. Some seem to overlap. A few examples: Allosexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to others and feels a desire for partnered sexuality A person who feels no sexual attraction or doesn’t have desire for sex Someone who is sexually attracted only to people with whom s/he has formed an emotional attachment Those attracted to people of only one gender People who are attracted to more than one gender If you thought not all desires could be put in words, think again. The vocabulary of sexual orientations is growing and everyone ‘fits in’. Well, almost Asexual: Demisexual: Monosexual: Polysexual: Pansexual, Omnisexual: Androsexual: Gynesexual: There are many more labels out there on the internet, many of which also bridge the homo-hetero divide and can be used by people of either orientation to convey their more specific identities. As the LGBTQIA Resource Centre glossary explains the terms and definitions “are always evolving and changing and often mean different things to different people”. Spellings of the labels also often vary. ple called me a prude,” she recalls. In comparison, awareness came early to 19-year-old Bharati (name changed on request), probably because the discourse on sexual rights and identities had already gained volume by the time she reached puberty. “I was in Class 9,” says Bharati, “when I started identifying as pansexual. I came across the concept online.” Simply having a label to identify oneself by, may not make it easier for one to assert oneself or get accepted by those around, agrees writer R Raj Rao, “but these terms help people in understanding themselves better.” Of course, in a country like ours which only made peace with its LGBTQ population as recently as last year with the striking down of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalised sex against the order of nature or non-peno-vaginal sex, it will take time for these terms to find place in popular parlance. dran says “the confusion is only for people who believe that everyone should fall into one or two categories”. Love may bloom at first sight and desire be spontaneous, but different experiences of attraction need to thought about, voiced and accommodated to stop oppression of sexual minorities, say queer rights activists. Not everyone, though, is happy with the fixation with labels. “We are brought up to expect that desire will be heterosexual. Which of course it isn’t. All such labels of identity [whether it be heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual or other such identities] are massively constraining,” says Madhavi Menon, director, Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Ashoka University. “Desires can’t be categorised. Desires are queer because they tend to be unpredictable, unreliable and surprising. But by embracing labels, we are indulging in a kind of self policing, telling ourselves that we are this and nothing else,” she explains. For those who feel like Menon, the label to go for may be pomosexual – a person who doesn’t accept or doesn’t fit into any sexual orientation label! Some, though, do use it as an alternative for queer. Poulomi Banerjee [email protected] n W Skoliosexual: hen 33-year-old Payal’s (name changed) friend called her a demisexual recently, she had to Google the word for its meaning. “He was telling me that he was gay and then went on to confess that he had always suspected that I was demisexual [someone capable of feeling sexual attraction only when he or she has formed a strong emotional bond with the person] ,” says Payal, adding with a laugh, “I had always called myself a romantic before.” Autosexual: Spectrasexual: THE INDIAN EXPERIENCE Androgynosexual: The use of these words is not restricted to the West. Delhi-based NGO, Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI), explains the meaning of some of these terms on its Facebook page. LGBTQ rights activist, counsellor and author Vinay Chandran also agrees that “there are more and more people seeking help and explicitly identifying themselves outside of the hetero-homo or man-woman dyad.” While the English-speaking, urban youth are more familiar with the terms, “even those who do not know the labels, like it when I am able to give them a word that represents their feelings. It helps them ‘fit in’,” explains says Megha Sheth, a psychologist working with the Mumbaibased Humsafar Trust. “I am getting an increasing number of people who identify as pansexual or asexual.” Sheth, 36, who identifies as demisexual, says she had to experience years of confusion before, three years ago, she came across the word that she felt was right for her. “When I was 19-20, the only other sexual identities I was aware of, apart from heterosexuality were LGBT. ‘Q’ was added to that umbrella when I was about 24,” she recalls. “In school, others around me were dating and I would feel confused about why I was not interested. Sometimes, peo- Menosexual: Sapiosexual: A WORD OF ONE’S OWN The vocabulary of sexual orientations is expanding to suit individual emotions and desires that are beyond not just the heterosexual majority, but also that of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Sure there’s queer – anyone who doesn’t confirm to dominant expressions of gender and sexuality – but it is not enough, as an increasing number of people look for words that express their diverse experiences. A 2017 article published in Time magazine uses the example of students in a high school in Utah to look at the “changing meaning of gender and sexuality” and how students are using words beyond the LGBT umbrella to identify themselves. A glossary on the website of the LGBTQIA (the last two letters represent Intersex and Asexual) Resource Centre, University of California, Davis, lists more than 10 different sexual orientations, including allosexual, asexual, demisexual and pansexual. Pomosexual: ROOTED IN LGBTQ RIGHTS The expanding vocabulary of sexual orientations, many feel, owes its roots to the movement for LGBTQ rights. “There were always people who had no sexual desire (asexuals today), had sexual desire for any gender (pansexual) etc. They just never found representation anywhere in society until recently,” says Chandran. “The LGBTQ movement helped give voice to these identities and more identities like these are likely to emerge.” Also, as Rao puts it, awareness of and acceptance of LGBTQ rights “made people look for terms for sexual orientations that are descriptive rather than prescriptive. Many of the earlier words were abusive.” The new, evolving vocabulary might be mind-boggling for the layman. But Chan- GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT Sexuality Sexual Orientation Sexual Identity Sexual Preference It is not just the physical act of sex, but how someone expresses himself/herself as a sexual person, with all the emotions associated with it, including attraction, jealousy and concern., among others. An enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction, or non-attraction, to other people. Sexual orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe theirs. SAYAGAIN? AN EXHIBIT AT INDIA ART FAIR EXPLORES WHAT LINKS AVESTA, ORAL TORAH, RIG VEDA ‘IN THE ABSENCE OF WRITING’: HISTORY AS IT WAS RECITED Presented by The Gujral Foundation, the show draws from Butail’s experiences on her travels through Iran, Israel, the UK and India, and her observations on the changes in how the meaning of a tradition is deciphered over time. Devyani Nighoskar [email protected] n O ne morning, in the town of Yazd in Iran, an Indian woman named Astha Butail pitched tent and invited local scholars in to recite hymns from the Zoroastrian Avesta, the living oral history tradition of Iran. She recorded the hymns, then interviewed them about their significance, drawing parallels with the Indian oral tradition of the Rig Veda. The passing of knowledge through generations ‘in the absence of writing’ fascinated her. So much so, that it became the title of her new art project. ‘In the Absence of Writing’— a multi-media art exhibit spread over 10 rooms — is now on display as part of the India Art Fair, on till February 28, in New Delhi. The exhibition explores the living oral traditions of the Avesta, Rig Veda and Jewish Oral Torah with an eye on identifying what they have in common. “I chose to study these systems specifically for they are the oldest,” Butail says. respond to previous entries in any of the handmade diaries left on a bookshelf. The result is an open book with no beginning or end. AN OPEN BOOK Butail, 41, was born in Amritsar and raised in Shimla. Her initiation into the art world began while on holiday in Pondicherry. “I met a Chinese artist who taught me to paint on fabric when I was 10. He was my first guru,” she says. Butail had wanted to study art after school, but her father died, and conditions at home led her to pick the more employment-friendly option of Economics, followed by a degree in fashion and a brief stint at an export house. Through these years, Butail continued to paint, often on T-shirts which she then sold. She developed an interest in Sanskrit. “This is how I came upon the Rig Veda and pursued a Master’s degree in it,” she says. In ‘In the Absence of Writing’, Butail focuses on 10 phrases from the Rig Veda. Given their cryptic nature, she uses the five elements of Nature to explore connections with the other oral traditions. These include architectural interventions such as mud walls, a common sight in the countries she visited, used here to denote the element of earth, which also disconnects the viewer from the outer world. An installation titled ‘Stir a Miracle’ uses a medley of vowel sounds recorded by Butail during her travels to show how the pronunciations of a vowel influence the meaning of a word. An interactive installation called ‘And secrets are secrets’ invites the viewer to n ROOM FOR EVERYONE The idea for this project first came to Butail three years ago, and began to take shape after she won the BMW Art Journey award in 2017. This helped fund her travels through Yazd, Jerusalem, London, Varanasi, Pune, New Delhi and Mumbai. Observing how the oral traditions were performed and preserved, Butail found striking similarities. “People tend to think that these traditions are primarily about religion, but they are primarily about the ecology. Knowledge of ecological systems is passed on through all the oral knowledge systems PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER Pressreader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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