LGBTQ Basics We All Need to Know in 2019 : Understanding Gender, Sex and Sexuality

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Sarvika Aggarwal

07 October 2021

9 Mins

The judgement to distinguish right from wrong is not learnt, it is inherent. I believe that as the owner of my mind, my body and my soul, I can express my individuality however I want to. I extend the same feelings towards other individuals.

As citizens of the world, you can choose to do whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t cause anyone physical distress.

This is not how most Indians feel. Too bad for them because, On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court issued its verdict. The Court unanimously ruled that a previous amendment made in 2013 in Section 377 is unconstitutional as it infringed on the fundamental rights of autonomy, intimacy, and identity, thus legalizing homosexuality in India.

It has taken a long time for this inclusivity to take place, but we are here.


If you have any doubts about what constitutes each alphabet of the LGBTQIA, may I recommend GOOGLE? It is at everyone’s disposal and it is also 2019, so ignorance isn’t exactly a good colour anyone. It is absolutely your job to educate yourself if you’ve been living under a rock since birth. It is also shocking if you haven’t noticed the LGBTQIA in subtexts of books, movies and telly shows. The only difference now is that it is no longer going to be a subtext to suit your HET CIS comfort zone.

When the LGBT community started

There is a culture of homophobia and bigotry amongst baby boomers directed towards the community. Nobody really knows where it comes from. It is just years and years of conditioning. If we look back at cave paintings, ancient sculptures and even the scriptures (Vedas) it is evident that homosexuality was prevalent amongst humans and animals centuries back and that was just ok, because believe it or not people liked to mind their own business, live harmoniously and tried to stay alive to the ripe age of childbirth, and from what I can make of them were basically really chill and wanted everyone to be super happy in their lives. There was even equality in workplaces for women and rape was not common. Everyone was just collectively like “Hey you can have an orgy, work all day, suck or lick WHATEVER you want, oh and we probably shouldn’t rape people because that is a fucked up thing to do” and everyone was ok with that. I don’t think any theological text needs to write that one down for anyone. I think the Gita and the Bible kind of do.

Coming out of the closet

Brown parents everywhere like to impress upon their pre-pubescent children the importance of “Normal life” (read as upper-middle-class life) where their child is told how society (their mothers) expect them to have children after marrying a humanoid of the opposite sex. This incessant pressure and forced opinions lead to a misplaced sense of self and self hate in growing adults of the LGBTQIA. Normalcy doesn’t have to be a conventional family, first of all.

A female and her 3 cats are a family, two romantically involved gay men and their dog are a family, a single lesbian mother and her children are a family, a closely-knit group of roommates are a family, an asexual nonbinary and their two married bi neighbours who are weirdly close to each other are a family. I am aware that it isn’t always easy for brown children to understand that one does not have to spend their life loving their birth family because they made them. Some families are awful and toxic.

Coming out is a personal choice and not every mum and dad love their child more than society’s opinions. But cut out the negativity and build yourself a brand new family, trillions of people on this planet, wandering and waiting to love you, you don’t need human garbage to validate your life.

Legally being queer is not taboo but there is a constant fear of losing your family in the event that you elect to come out. It is staggeringly ironic that a culture which was brought about in Imperial India by our colonizers, of demonizing homosexuality is still prevalent amongst the people who so passionately hate the British. Imperialism has left chaos in its wake, but this by far is the worst ideology to have stayed on.

It’s like when you host a French cultural exchange student and all you learn is that the French hate all other nationalities but you still end up making out with them after school because they seem cool and you start negging all things about your own people. Like that wasn’t the point.

Lack of sex education in schools

The real flaw lies primarily in sex ed and access to medication. Everything that I needed to learn about sex, I learnt online or with real-life experiences. I am Het female and any information I have, I can only share with a limited number of people. This is a problem, but the bigger problem is that there is an absolute lack of education and awareness when it comes to what is universally considered “gay sex” in low-income neighbourhoods. This is because sex-ed doesn’t cover any problems which any sexually active adult could face anywhere, anytime.

Traditional safe sex guides (which exist in doctors' clinics on pamphlets) are often structured in a way that presumes everyone’s gender (male/female/nonbinary/trans) is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth (male/female/intersex or differences in sexual development), which we all know is wildly incorrect and a grand supposition.

Gender Identities and Sexual Orientations

There are multiple gender identities:


The word used to describe someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex that was assigned to them at birth.


An umbrella term that often includes anyone who might identify as transgender (a gender identity describing someone who doesn’t exclusively identify with the sex they were assigned at birth), genderqueer, nonbinary, transfeminine, transmasculine, agender, and many more. Sometimes people wonder if trans people are always gay, while other times people assume trans people can’t be gay. Just like cisgender people, individuals who identify as trans can have any sexual orientation — straight, gay, bisexual, queer, lesbian, or asexual. Also, different people use gender identity labels differently, so it’s always good to ask someone what that term means to them in order to get a better understanding.


A gender identity used by people who do things that are outside of the norm of their actual or perceived gender. Sometimes this label overlaps with the sexual orientation label.


A gender identity label that describes those who don’t identify exclusively as male or female. This means that a nonbinary person can identify as both male and female, partially male, partially female, or neither male nor female. Some nonbinary people identify as trans, while others don’t. If you’re confused about which one of these terms to use for someone, as always, just ask!


An umbrella term used to describe someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies with femininity. Someone who identifies as transfeminine may also identify as a trans woman or female.


A gender identity describing someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies with masculinity. Someone who identifies as transmasculine may also identify as a trans man, trans woman, or male.


The word used to describe those who don’t identify with any gender or can’t relate to gender terms or labels at all. Sometimes people assume those who identify as agender also identify as asexual, but this isn’t true. Agender people can have any sexual orientation.

And sexual orientations:


Also known as straight, it is a sexual orientation to describe the physical, emotional, and sexual attraction to people who have a gender that’s different from their own.


Sexual orientation to describe a person who’s emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of their same gender and sometimes used by a person who identifies as a man and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other men.


Sexual orientation to describe a person who identifies as a woman, and who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women.


Sexual orientation to describe a person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to two or more genders; often used to mean attraction to people with one’s own gender and other genders.


Sexual orientation to describe a person whose feelings of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction don’t fit into predetermined categories.


Sexual orientation to describe a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction or desire towards other people but may experience romantic attraction.


Sexual orientation used to describe a person who’s emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people regardless of their gender or sex.

which vary from person to person.

Sexually Transmitted Illness (STI)

The biggest issue and fear amongst any sexually active adult is the impending STIs and here is one fact that every breathing millennial needs to know: If you were born after 1990 you probably have HPV. Everyone has it, it is ok if you have had more than 2 partners in your life, straight, gay, bi, pan, etc. you HAVE HPV and that is ok. It's fine. All the cool kids have HPV. That’s just our generation's reality. I know it is disheartening because you wake up and think “Hey, I can’t afford to pay the bills again, I don’t like my job, I’m stuck in a situation-ship, but hey at least I don’t have STDs.” I’m sorry boo but you do.

Here is how you can prevent more severe ones (like syphilis, HIV and gonorrhoea. If these sound yucky and scary, it is because they are):

  1. Frequent STI testing

  2. Condoms and gloves used correctly with each sex act

  3. Dams

  4. Medications such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

  5. Vaccinations

  6. Talk with your partner about the last time they were tested for STIs.

  7. Don’t participate in penetrative sex if you notice cuts, sores, bumps, or high-risk bodily fluids — such as blood — on their genitals or in their mouth, as this can be signs of an infection and can increase the chances of transmitting an STI.

  8. Don’t use more than 1 condom

  9. LUBEEEEE. Please use lube I can’t press this enough, you think you don’t but you need it

Consent is important. If your partner isn’t into it, then that is statutory rape. For reference, unless your partner doesn’t implicitly say “YES” take it as a no. An “um”, “maybe” and “I’m not sure," do not count as a YES. Be vocal about your consent too. Leave any situation that makes you ill at ease. Having sexual relations with an inebriated individual is also very illegal.

How dating works

Here are some tips from making sure your heart doesn’t get broken:

There are none.

Dating is hard and intense and all-consuming for anyone and everyone, you are no different. Your dating issues are worth discussing with your mates. You are not the background gay noise maker in your friends’ straight boring-ass, rom-com. Nor is your existence a punchline. Call people out on using your identity as a joke, it is not ok. It is hard to achieve stability because the norm for all members of the LGBTQIA is considered to be polygamy or cheating, but don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want from your partner.

Do not be afraid of what aunties think of you and if at any point you feel threatened or targeted because of your gender identity or sexual orientation report it and find a group to support you and back you up.

Grindr is not safe, be wary of catfish and people who won’t show you their faces on the app and ask the world of you. Ask for pictures, location details and a video call before anything happens. You are very precious and you need to stay vigilant and safe out there.

You are the author of your own identity. There is no correct or incorrect way to go about being queer. You decide how you want to be you, how your sexuality and gender affect your life and to what extent. There is no leaflet on how to be straight and there isn’t one on how to be gay either.

You cannot decide who you are, only how you can go about being self-actualised. Also, bi-erasure is real. Please acknowledge all bis out there. They seem really angry all the time but they need a hug. If your mum and dad don’t love you anymore because you came out to them, know that I love you. You don’t need those slags in your life. I will be your mum and dad and as my child, your first job will be to get a matching pride flag tattoo with me.

Sorry, those are the rules.

Helplines: 9745545559 in English, Malayalam, and Tamil 1800-2000-113

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