Swapna | 02
Swapna identifies as asexual, as someone who is on the "Ace Spectrum". Mahir explores what this means for Swapna, what motivated her to dig deeper into understanding and exploring her own identity, what influences she's had in her life, and how inappropriate mainstream media representation of the LGBTQIA+ community impacted her.
Mahir narrates a verse of poetry, written exclusively for Swapna.
Mahir's email: email@example.com
Mahir's Instagram: instagram.com/mahirkxpoor
Hi! From MotorMouth Podcasts, I’m Mahir and this is Queer’s The Word, a show where I reach out to LGBTQ+ folks and bring to you their stories, experiences and everything queer.
For today’s episode, I was lucky enough to have a candid, unvarnished conversation with this brilliant poet from Delhi who is also a student of psychology. Her heart-warming pieces that often evoke a sense of purpose within have always moved me; and today I bring to you her narrative, for this is the story of Swapna. Her preferred pronouns are she/her.
As young individuals growing up in an Indian household, many of us have little to no idea of the existence of people not fitting into the normalised standard that is of a cis gendered heterosexual person. And thus, exposure usually comes in the form of some foreign media. For Swapna, it was MasterChef USA. She recalls noticing a contestant who was a tad bit too effeminate for a pre-teen Swapna and being the era that it was, that’s the only mainstream queer representation that existed in the past – men being effeminate. Now, Swapna didn’t know if that person identified as queer, she didn’t even know what it meant to be queer. Cut to a few years down the line, with the help of social media and other reliable sources, she was finally introduced to the community through articles and testimonials but she hadn’t really had any personal interactions with queer folks so the community was still an almost mythical concept to her. Something that wasn’t tangible. She even remembers using the acronym LGBTQIA back then, but funnily enough had no idea what the A stood for. But let’s just say she’s come a long way since then.
Being a student of psychology, Swapna has always been averse to the generalised concept of being ‘normal’. But soon after being introduced to the queer community, she realised that she wasn’t as normal as she thought she was. Swapna then went on to tell me how at times she has a certain sense of relief in knowing that her heteroromantic asexuality is probably not as frowned upon as say homosexuality. But that only led us to the question – was that because asexuality is somehow more palatable to people that are otherwise queerphobic or was it because of the lack of awareness? For asexuality is often mistaken for celibacy which is a grossly inaccurate comparison. They are by no means synonymous. Celibacy or abstinence is a conscious human choice. Someone’s sexual identity isn’t. Many a times, people also refuse to understand the difference between sexual and romantic intimacy which also proves to be harmful to those on the spectrum. Swapna for instance might be on the ace spectrum but is a big, big romantic.
Further we spoke about why this absence of awareness existed in the first place? And it boiled down to a simple fact that is lack of mainstream representation. Right from the very first movie Swapna watched, sexual and romantic love and affection have been such an important highlight of a character’s story. Back in the day, she didn’t quite understand what it was but she would often feel alienated while coming across certain story arcs. She says that being ace is more difficult to realise than acknowledge because nobody really talks about the existence of a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction at all. She believes, in a country like India, so much rests on romantic relationships and Shah Rukh Khan movies and thus people on the aromantic spectrum have it even harder.
Swapna also raised a few more of her concerns. She talked about the ostracism of the ace-aro community from the queer community for not being queer enough and that is certainly a challenge. She said that being alienated from both sides was like occupying no-man’s land, which is rather unfortunate. She also mentioned that the over sexualisation of the queer community is not only harmful to the community as a whole but especially hurts the ace community by virtually erasing their individuality. Nevertheless, she hopes for a future where labels aren’t a norm and don’t govern social standings and where sexual and gender euphoria exists throughout.
On the other side of the break, I will be sharing with you a short poem I’ve written exclusively for the wonderful person that is Swapna.
Welcome back! This is Queer’s The Word from MotorMouth Podcasts and I’m Mahir. Today, we’re talking about Swapna and after having an unfiltered interaction with her, there was one thing that I kept going back to.
When Swapna mentioned how her introduction to queerness was through an American television show, I couldn’t help but think about bigoted people muttering under their breaths how queerness is a western concept that is polluting Indian morals and values and yadda yadda yadda. They fail to realise that identifying as LGBTQ+ isn’t a concept or a trend of the west but one can often find decent representation of the community only through western media. And so one hasn’t turned gay watching David and Patrick’s wedding in Schitt’s Creek or one hasn’t suddenly decided to identify as trans after watching Elektra read a transphobe to filth in Pose, but one finds a semblance of reassurance when they see someone like them living their life to the absolute fullest, even if it’s on screen.
With that being said, it’s now time for me to share with you a short poem I’ve written for our person of the day – Swapna.
as the moon reveals its scarred visage,
she lies with words and phrases
under her pillow
lyrics to the elegies of her past self
only to unveil them
when the sun shines brighter
and accompanying its uncouth rays
is her love
sewn into a tapestry of
black, grey, white and purple
for she’s an ace of hearts,
she doesn’t gamble
yet she wins
with the sun and moon by her headboard.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Queer’s The Word.
If you identify as LGBTQ+ and would like to share your story with us, you can reach out to me. My email address and Instagram handle are mentioned below.
I’ll see you in the next episode.
Meanwhile, you can follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – our handle is @MotorMouthPods
You can also check out more episodes of this show and other MotorMouth Originals on our website – motormouthpods.com
You can find music and other credits in the episode notes.
This episode was written and hosted by me, Mahir.
Sound production, design and mixing by Prateek Sharma.
Our show cover art is designed by Rishikant.
Our Creative Director is Gargie Sharma and this show is
Executive produced and created by Prateek Sharma, for MotorMouth Podcasts.