Colours of Courage: Meet Nick and Sayantika, the lesbian couple who are changing the way the world sees love
Refusing to accept silence as an option, this lesbian couple defied all societal norms to redefine love.
Growing up in Calcutta in the 1990s, Sayantika recalls of a lack of queer visibility in her immediate surroundings. “I didn’t even know the word lesbian. I didn’t know anyone who was queer. I am a huge Bollywood buff and all the movies that I watched were hetero movies. Romcoms majorly showed a man and a woman. The lack of queer representation made it difficult for me to come to term about my sexuality,” she reveals explaining that she dated men for a bit.
“I even grappled with a fact that maybe I am bisexual. I didn’t see any content or any couple around me as a teenager, I didn’t have a vision to see what a life as queer person looks like,” sighs Sayantika adding that there was so much peer pressure around all the girls in her friend circle, about boyfriends and crushes, that she could never talk about the fact that she was attracted to girls. “I knew it was different and the feeling wasn’t going away.”
Sayantika was 24 and in Bangalore when she first fell in love with a woman. “She was also queer, but we never met. She became a mentor to me. I just knew I liked her when I first fell for her. By then, I'd ruled out the possibility of men, because I'd dated a lot of them and it didn't work for me.” It was then that Sayantika came out to her parents and she has never looked back. “Just knowing that there is a term for my identity that perfectly describes me made me come out to myself. I began writing a lot of pieces and poetry, and all of my projects became about LGBTQ people. I began pouring rainbows everywhere. I came out in front of everyone at college; there was some backlash, but I didn't care.”
Speaking of how her parents rallied around her, she says, “My parents have been an incredible support system. They are more than just supportive. It's not just about acceptance; it's about supporting me on my journey, in being myself, which is crucial”, she nods. While her family was supportive of her decision to come out, Sayantika needed to learn more about herself, and that was when she happened to meet Nick, her current partner. Much like in a Bollywood love story, they met disliking each other at first, which eventually turned into an everlasting bond of love.
“We heard about each other as there was a rumour that we were dating, despite the fact that we'd never met. However, when we did meet when she relocated to Bangalore, we didn't get along. I later went to a cricket event with my friends to watch the match and met Nick there, as she’s passionate about cricket and after the match we bonded over sulemani chai. That was when we became great friends, and we still continue to be best friends despite our relationship.”
Nick and Sayantika have defied all odds to openly celebrate their togetherness. “Nick made everything easier for me, from my career to guiding me to believing in my potential. She never gave up on me. She is extremely practical and pragmatic. She has taught me so much. Nick has always been my most important mentor,” Sayantika admits.
The gay pride parades, support groups and meet-ups can feel like a bed of roses, but societal stigma can feel like thorns in their garden of Eden. “Every time we go to a club, straight guys approach us and buy us a few drinks just to watch us dance. It bothers us because you wouldn't expect this to happen to a straight couple. Why do they believe they have the authority to harm us?” exclaims Sayantika.
Voicing her displeasure on how LGBT individuals are targeted gender expression, she says “People in India tend to view lesbians solely through a sexual lens. People frequently forget that there is much more to life than what we do in the bedroom. The term "sexuality" does not imply that it begins and ends with sex. People frequently overlook our love and respect for each other,” she rues.
Both Nick and Sayantika seek to educate society to see that LGBT individuals are no different from others. “We want to reach out to people who see us and resonate with us. For us it’s about showing our love life and filmy plan as we feel can change the world in a very pyaar se manner.”
Sharing how important it is to build a support system, Sayantika says, “In an ideal world, we would be supported by everyone, in reality, some people are disowned by their family. So, you'll need to put together a support system, and your safety should come first. If you believe that coming out will endanger your safety, make sure you are in a safer environment first. Coming out should not jeopardise your wellbeing. There is no timeline for coming out because each person has a different time coming out at their own pace. And most importantly, don’t stop accepting yourself!” she signs off.