In honor of “Celebrate Bisexuality Day”, September 23, Ylva Publishing is delighted to go truly international and chat with Sarita KC, a bisexual LGBT+ campaigner from Nepal.
Welcome Sarita. What was your coming out experience like in Nepal? Both personally and with telling others about your bisexuality?
It was very difficult to reveal my true identity. The struggle phase of introducing myself as bisexual woman in society was not so easy. There were many obstacles to face. I had fears about revealing this to a male partner (what would he think and would he leave me?), knowing my real identity, and having real feelings toward both sexes. Being a woman attracted to both sexes was a matter which couldn’t be easily digested by a developing society like Nepal. Many times, the thought of society and perceptions of society affected my thought processes as well.
Were family and friends accepting of your bisexuality?
Talking about family, there is a notion built up regarding males and females which is actually very difficult to break. My family had expected me to marry a boy and go to his home [to live], but I have different interests which are not easily understood by my family. Talking about friends, many of them don’t even know that I am a bisexual woman. I never felt it as a necessity [to tell them], but the other reason might be my insecurity.
Did you face pressure to just choose a male partner and not talk about having same-sex attractions?
While I was in a relationship with a male, I felt like I always had a feeling of attraction toward females as well. There was a phase where I started to feel that I might be doing wrong. But at present…I am in a same-sex relationship and I am very happy about my relationship.
What are the laws like for LGBT+ people in Nepal?
The movement for the LGBT+ community’s legal rights began around 2000. The Constitution allowed it [enshrining LGBT protections] from 2015.
The Nepalese Constitution includes several provisions pertaining to the rights of LGBT+ people, like the right to acquire a citizenship certificate [in accordance to one’s gender identity], prohibition of discrimination on any grounds including sex, eligibility for special protection provided by law, and rights to access to public services for gender and sexual minorities. But they are very rarely implemented.
Over the past fifteen years, the LGBT+ community did many activities to get these rights. We are always grateful for the new laws, but some laws remain against us, such as marriage equality. In the Constitution it is mentioned about a right to equality for citizens, but in civil court, marriage is defined as only male and female.
Most of the people in Nepal working in high posts are homophobic and think that the LGBT+ rights given by Constitution should not be provided to us. So, we can’t properly enjoy our rights due to such thinking and perceptions of society.
LGBT+ community people are treated as a third gender and as sex workers.
So despite supportive laws and provisions for LGBT+ people, we still face societal discrimination in Nepal. There is significant pressure to conform and to marry a partner of the opposite sex. I have some friends who hesitate to accept themselves as LGBT+ as they have fear that their marital relationship will affected.
What is dating like in Nepal for LGBT+ people? How do you all find each other?
My personal experience is that I don’t know about or use any dating apps. Most [LGBT+] people know me from where I work. People also find me from mutual friends on social media.
I heard about the pink Tiffany Bar, [the first LGBT+-friendly restaurant and bar in Kathmandu], which was opened by trans people. But lesbian and bisexual people went there less often because they did not want their identity to be seen as trans. Nowadays, most people are more aware [that it’s not just for trans people], so there is not any problem in [going to] that bar.
You’ve had a wild mix of careers. Tell us about them.
Yes, I have experiences of many different careers. As a radio jockey (DJ), I learned to groom my personality and knowledge about interacting with different kind of people in different sectors. It also built my confidence level in myself.
As a teacher, I got a chance to know about the psychology of people. My confidence level of talking to a big group was built up. I couldn’t work for a long time in these sectors because I didn’t get personal satisfaction.
Fashion designing was my hobby from the beginning. I like to do designing and I worked on it for the past two years. Fashion designing helps me to arranged our pride colors and allows me to make different kind of pride props too.
Now I am working as an activist in my own LGBT+ community. I get satisfaction on working for human rights. Also, I worked as a youth politician. From that job, I learned about the working system of Nepal’s Government.
The main reason to be an activist is that I’m happy to fight for those people who are uncounted in society as human beings.
Your current job is Executive Director for Mitini Nepal. What does this charity do?
My journey in Mitini Nepal started as a volunteer and, in 2019, I was promoted as Executive Director.
Mitini Nepal is a non-governmental organization working for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. It works on the protection and promotion of human rights of the sexual and gender minorities in Nepal. It aims for an equitable society where LBT people are respected and can live a dignified life with sufficient social, cultural, economic, legal and political rights.
Do you have any memorable examples of how you’ve changed a life?
I am clear about my gender and sexuality. I raise the voices of the voiceless of my community. Now I am a mother, a sister for many of these voiceless, and I feel so happy for it.
I feel it is good experience to work with law makers and stakeholders who are unaware about LGBT+. We need to teach each and every term to school students.
In the past I was only normal Sarita KC; now people know I am an activist, inspiring and building a young LGBT+ community, sharing my knowledge. Now I have many responsibilities, expectations, and hopes of people to do more good work.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Both personally and professionally my life is still in Mitini Nepal, with rainbow colors!
I think I will find myself with more maturity, more responsibility, and more personal duties. Due to my experiences and working at the ground level, I think I’ll have more positive outcomes fighting for human rights.
What do you most hope for in life?
Just as hetero people can enjoy their life and say their identity easily, my hope is that LGBT+ members also can enjoy their identity and real sexuality and that society will accept it as easily, without any hesitation and discrimination.
Sarita KC is a bisexual LGBT+ activist from Nepal. As the Executive Director of the LBT+ organization Mitini Nepal, she fights for a just world where members of the LGBT+ community are respected and accepted, feel safe, and can live both their identity and sexuality openly, with pride, and without fear of discrimination.
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