Colors of Courage: A proud bisexual and sex therapist, Neha Bhat is changing the way the world sees sex
When it comes to unconventional fields of study in India, a professional sex therapist probably stands out. Yet this is exactly the profession Neha Bhat chose although the belle admits, she had no interest in the field when she was younger. As someone who was born and brought up in Delhi, Neha Bhat speaks of her childhood and recalls one of her most terrifying memories. “I remember how my mother used to teach me how to fight men. At that time, I travelled by local transport and women suffered from a lot of sexual harassment on a regular basis. When I came home, I usually used to tell this to my mom and she always filled me with all these tactics on how to stand up against bad touch or sexual abuse.”
When she describes her college experiences, she says that she was bullied a lot when she was younger because she spoke her mind. Her blunt demeanour often landed her in sticky situations. “When I was in college, I used to talk about sexuality very openly and therefore people (even my friends) kept on intimidating me for days. Right from the comments like ‘is she mad’, people have been throwing shameless labels and harsh words my way.”
For Neha, it all began 10 years ago at a Mumbai school where she worked with special needs children and developed an interest in healing trauma and pain. She elucidates, “I realised that a lot of people in India were actually talking about pain but they are not understanding that pain is more than just a quick-fix with medication. While connecting more with people, I have listened to many painful stories right from marriage, and family to relationships and that too from people of different age groups. Digging bit by bit eventually took me into studying trauma.”
“That’s when I got to know that adults are the most suffered people of this generation. While some individuals battled peer pressure, others had a covertly concealed sexuality, others dealt with stress tensions and plenty of people kept their issues hidden, which added to the stress. Looking back to connect the dots, I did over 25 different jobs before getting into this field,” she confesses adding that her experiences and the intriguing nature of her work with adults, led her to discover her interest in the sexuality.
However, there were times when she was travelling on a rocky road. She had to overcome numerous obstacles, the most significant of which was financial. However, her parents had proven to be her pillars of strength during difficult times. “I belong from quite a liberal family background and therefore, they always support me on my journey without even judging me,” she remarks.
Speaking of facing discrimination due to her chosen career path, she says, “I have already prepared myself for the resistance I might get in this profession since I have been listening to negative comments from a very young age. Being bi-sexual myself, I understand the struggle people go through while coming out. I started writing on Instagram to educate the public about issues pertaining to sexual identity as I want to do my part for the LGBTQ community.”
She expresses her dissatisfaction with how sex and the LGBTQ community are treated, as well as the stigma surrounding sex and sexuality. “I genuinely want to tell people that it’s okay to take your time with sexuality. Taking a slow road to understanding your sexual personality should always be appreciated. Sex positivity is all about being non-judgmental.
Today, Neha trains young counsellors and therapists in different parts of the world to help others who are struggling with sex and sexuality issues. She vocalises a resolute message to all people dealing with stress related to their sexual life or sexual identity, “Don’t let social stigma stop you from talking about any aspect of your sexual life but also be very clear and stay strong to deal with the consequences. Women who take charge to talk in this sphere go through a lot of discrimination but once you create the right attitude, it becomes quite difficult to get carried away by other people!” she concludes.