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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Ikshaku Bezbaroa On The Dynamics Of Gay Sex And Navigating His Sexuality Through His Drag Queen Avatar

  • IWB Post
  •  September 24, 2019

If there exists something more toxic than the resistance against the individuals who fall in the gender non-binary in our country, it has to be the rhetoric of silence which has been very craftily developed around them and their sexuality. It is this tactful silence that has been maintained for ages to politicise and colonise sex and gender.

The need today is for a separate theory and pedagogy focusing on sex and sexuality. The issue now is with Indian sociology which manages to cover everything right from caste to path breaking social movements (the recent SC verdicts on various issues, for instance) but wobbles the instant any mention of the term sex is made.

The word sex and the discussions on it are dark alleys which the Indian sociology and societal constructs dread to tread, as if the instant someone sets foot there the whole system would come down crumbling. But wait, I talk about just the gender binaries and heterosexual sex here. It gets worse as we transcend beyond the gender binary.

Yes, we scrapped Section 377 and a mad celebration ensued it but how ready are we to discuss anything beyond heteronormative sex or even accept the existence of it in the first place?

Our grasp of the entire idea of gender is rigid and also very shaky and threatens to fall out of hand each time a new dimension is added to it. Consider, for instance, the case of Bangalore-based Ikshaku Bezbaroa, who happens to be a lawyer by day and a drag queen by night. 

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In a recent conversation that I had with him, he told me about the nuances of queer sexuality and how his drag has added a new dimension to it. Here are excerpts from our chat:

Can you think of instances when you felt like your sexual desires were being restricted or encroached upon by the society?

Throughout my adolescence, my sexual desires were policed and restricted by the society. I went to an all-boys school and quite early realized that my desires were not in line with the rest. Thus, I had my formative sexual experience entirely alone.

Since I was struggling, even at home I tried asking my mom questions like what is porn, what is sex. She did answer the questions but they never realized that I was feeling things for men.

In that case, I am guessing that coming out wasn’t actually a cakewalk for you, right? Tell me about the struggles and how did you find a way out?

I came out very late. I first came out to my friends when I was 17 or 18.  Initially, I shared it only with the people I thought were also queer or girls I was comfortable with.

My major coming out happened much later at 21 when I came out to my parents. By that time, they were asking me about my girlfriends and all since my brother had started dating. So a lot of pressure had been built by the time I was dating a guy.

It was kind of sudden. I had had a long flight that day and I had fought with my boyfriend. My dad sensed the tension and asked what happened and it all came out as an outburst and I told him that I just had a fight with my boyfriend. It was a pretty silly thing to do because for them it was a lot to take.

My dad went away that evening. I think he cried. Later when he came back he said, “I don’t know why you did this. You have broken my heart, I don’t recognize you anymore.”

I was shattered and went to the college hostel and stayed there for around a week. Later my mom called me back home and said, “we won’t ever do that to you again.”

My dad just didn’t talk about it. Probably my mom had been counseling him. But yes it was pretty awkward at home for a while.

And how are things now?

Now, it’s actually quite good. They have probably studied it and understood that it was not a choice. But one thing they are still unhappy about is me coming out about my drag. That, they thought is a choice. My dad said, “I can accept that you are gay but I can’t understand this. It’s too much. You are just pushing us now.” That’s still a conversation I am navigating with them.

Our society comes to a standstill when it comes to understanding sex and sexual desires as soon as they transcend the gender binary. Tell me about your experience of the same.

Oh, this is a very rich area because the template that people follow is heterosexual, heteronormative relationships. I have been asked a few times if I was the man or the woman in the relationship. They don’t get that the whole point here is that there are two men. Then comes the thing with sexual positions. People get confused about what goes where. I think for them that matters a lot because otherwise, it doesn’t seem like a real relationship to them. But it is not all about penetrative sex, right? It is more about the bond and the chemistry that you share with your partner.

Even with counsellors, a lot of them follow the old tradition of psychiatry and tend to look at homosexuality in certain boxes. Recently, one of them actually me asked if I was the giver or receiver in that relationship and because I do drag he assumed that I must be the girl in the relationship. For me, honestly, the sexual relationships are just for the chemistry and bond and everything else is secondary. Top, bottom, oral, anal, inside, upside, anything else doesn’t matter. And also, I think these preferences vary over time, people’s drives change over time. These experiences are so subjective, it is very difficult to fix them into place.

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Did these prejudices ever seep into the internal dynamics of your relationship?

Oh yes! I was with this guy for six years. It was a nice relationship and everything but I guess there was an expectation that I would be a guy kinda guy and then I became a drag queen. As I began discovering my feminine side, he told me that “I don’t find you attractive anymore.” I was like I haven’t become a woman, I am a drag queen, it is an art form. I thought you loved me, not my femininity or my masculinity. So basically, even gay people have a lot of stereotypes. 

I also think that when we have an option to choose between femininity and masculinity, we are all wired to somehow choose masculinity as it comes with the all the perks of male privilege. What’s your take on this? 

Certainly, I have experienced it very closely growing up. You know I was like this genderless creature. I used to play with G.I. Joes and Barbie together. The boy and girl things were not very defined for me. But as I hit puberty, I noticed that my biological changes were celebrated a lot. People would say things like, “Oh your voice is changing! Oh you have a beard!” All of this became a big deal. Thus, I very automatically took to it and got used to my male side.

It was when I started discovering drag a couple of years ago that I realized everything I do in drag was the very exploration of my feminine side which I love, which for me was the ultimate freedom. I realized that every little bit of that was taken away from me because of my male privilege. Every time I shaved my legs, or didn’t have beard people would say that I looked like a young boy or a woman. These things would happen, and every time my male privilege would go away a little because I was feminine. It was kind of a strange thing to experience. I learned what it was like to be a woman in a male-obsessed setup.

And what is it like to be a woman in a male-obsessed setup? 

It’s weird. You are always under the radar. You feel like people are staring at you. As a girl, anything you do, whether smoking a cigarette or sitting on a chair, you are under the radar. It’s kind of too much attention.

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On that note, what is that one thing about being a drag queen that empowers you sexually? How is it different from what sexually empowers your non-drag avatar?

I have never had sex in drag. For me, it is all about performance and I haven’t yet learned how to have sex as a woman. It’s more of an outward kinda sexuality, kinda from me to them. 

What sexually empowers me as Ikshaku is comfort, a degree of trust, and non-pushy, non-aggressive kind of behavior.

Let’s talk about the role of consent in feeling sexually empowered. Have you ever felt that your consent is being exploited or stepped upon?

Ya, absolutely. Many times, both as a drag queen and a gay man. A guy once approached me at a bar, right after my performance and asked, “what is your rate?” There have been so many instances of people swinging their hands and putting it on your crotch, putting their arms around my shoulder, and approaching me when I am clearly not welcoming it.

As a gay man, the experience is pretty much the same. Last time I went to this house party with a guy where I was approached by a very muscular man who began touching me without my consent. When I told my friend that I have to go, the other guy said, “stay and dance it’s not like you’ll lose wait.”

In gay culture, people don’t understand boundaries. People mind if you don’t have sex with them.

I think communication is integral to consent. Please tell me about the dynamics of communication in your relationships and how do you communicate your sexual desires to your partner?

I don’t remember if I ever met someone in a pub kinda setting or just through flirting or conversation made it to the bed. Because when you are in places like a gay club or a gay bar, you know just by the glances that it is expected, there is no element of surprise and I want to be surprised. I want to just meet a regular guy in a regular place and just want to hit chemistry. That’s one of my biggest fantasies. Otherwise, I generally find people on Grinder and you talk to them and you go for coffee and you just walk around, then we end at my place, watch a movie, cuddle and then we have sex. There is no “sex conversation” as such. It just slips into that and its mostly been like that. The only time that it didn’t happen was with my ex-boyfriend. We didn’t have sex for a month because he was out of town.

After a month of talking, we went to a place near Bombay. We were both sitting on a cliff, having a beer, and looking at the sunset when security guards came with a light. We just ran to the beach because we knew that they just wanted to create trouble. When we stopped we realised that it was pitch black. We were just so excited and happy we kissed right there and had sex. It has been my best sexual experience till date.

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Wow! At this time, we should totally further dwell into your sexual fantasies. Tell me about the ones you are yet to live.

(laughs) They are all mostly kinky. I have always wanted to try something like tying the hands to the bed and make out. I think its borderline BDSM actually. I wanna try it, I want someone to show it and tell me. I would definitely like to do it and experience being completely submissive. The problem is that nobody likes it, everybody is lazy. Nobody wants to be in charge, they want me to do it.

I think when trying out sexual things of this intensity, having 100% trust in your partner is very important to enjoy it fully.

I agree and it’s very difficult to navigate that trust unless you have a regular person or boyfriend.

Have you ever purchased or possessed sex toys and have you been judged for it?

I don’t know where to find sex toys in India. So, I have never had an experience with buying one but I do own a dildo. Once at home, somebody bumped upon it and asked me weird questions. It’s embarrassing but it’s okay.

How about masturbation? What’s your take on sexually exploring your own body?

This is my favourite question (laughs). I do not know if it’s considered weird but I do think that I have the best sex with myself because you know what you want and you are in control. It is always consensual. It’s therapeutic and also safer than meeting random people and contracting an STD.

You can catch more from Ikshaku here.

First published on Oct 6, 2018.

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