How one bisexual, Indian woman is claiming her LGBT+ pride
With her bubbling brook personality and quiet wit, Daphne Yejerla is the sort of person you can count on for a good meme, a tight dance video and philosophical conversation. So, of course she's someone you want in your corner, especially when the going gets tough.
As a half-white, half-Indian, bisexual woman, Daphne has faced her own fair share of tough. New to her LGBT+ identity and her place in the community, this year will be her first Pride. I spoke to Daphne about what it means to claim bisexual within the community, as well as the never-ending journey queer people embark upon for (self-)acceptance.
Photography by Caroline Colvin
Make-up by Genna Williams
Creative direction by Lex Ash
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
CC: How and when did you know you were bisexual?
DY: It’s still slightly fuzzy because it was a gradual thing? Probably around this past Christmas-time… I slowly realized because I was starting to gain feelings for my best friend.
CC: Ah, a good one!
DY: Yeah! It was very hard. Coming to that realization confirmed that those moments when I was attracted to another female? It wasn’t just me being weird or crazy. It was an actual thing. I’m actually attracted to women.
CC: Were there other times where you look back and you realize, concretely, you had a crush on a girl? Like K-12?
DY: It made me realize that my best friends that were females: I probably had a little bit of a crush on them. It did confirm, looking back on my relationship with [my best friend], I’ve had a crush on her for a while. I just didn’t realize it until now.
CC: It was the same for me, too. There was a girl I was really close friends with in high school and — obviously we were friends. But I had feelings for her, too. It took that relationship for me to be like, “This is not a regular friendship.”
DY: It started where — I don’t know exactly how I thought about it. I guess it’s because I was such a loyal friend to her. I’m like, “You wouldn’t be this loyal to someone that’s just a best friend.”
CC: That’s fair!
DY: Hm! And I would lean in to kiss her a few times, but I didn’t! She has a boyfriend! I was like, “No, Daphne. Don’t do it.”
But then I thought about it. We shared an apartment for awhile, too. There was a time when she brought home her boyfriend then and her best friend. I was upset about it. Later, her boyfriend left and her best friend stayed the night, and they ended up sharing a bed. I was getting jealous of that, but I was in denial.
CC: In terms of being “out,” what degrees of out are you? Friends, but not family?
DY: Friends. The only family that knows is my sister. I don’t think any of my other family knows.
CC: Do you feel like if you met someone today — our age — and they asked you about your sexuality, you’d say you’re bisexual?
DY: Yeah. I’m fairly comfortable with that. Even though it was really challenging to come to terms with that — because I was raised very strict, conservative Christian — it was very freeing. It made me very happy on the inside. So, I want to be able to share that with other people. I don’t want to try and hide that in a closet anymore.
CC: Do you have any people you look up to within the LGBT+ community? Favorite queer celebrities?
DY: Hm. I mean, it’s still fairly new. I don’t really know.I’m not huge into pop culture, just because: growing up, I was very restricted from being into pop culture. Used to be Demi [Lovato]. Questioning that now.
I’d have to say the Fab Five [from Netflix’s “Queer Eye]... I really love them. They’ve been very inspiring. And just watching the show’s helped me as well, just because it is a new experience. How they’ve had their sexuality, and still being able to bring love and support to other people — especially those you wouldn’t think would be supportive of the LGBT+ community.
CC: Definitely! Who’s your favorite of the Fab Five?
DY: Oh, God! I like Karamo. He’s very supportive — I mean, they all are — but he really dives into being true to yourself and getting confidence with yourself. That’s been very important for me, lately.
CC: This weekend is going to be your first pride. What are you expecting St. Pete Pride to be like?
DY: I feel like it’s going to be love and support and happiness. I’m excited for that! Just being able to celebrate self-expression and love. And equality, honestly. It’s something that I need!
CC: In terms of coming out, have you had more positive reactions, neutral reactions or negative reactions? How do you deal with it?
DY: For the most part, I’ve had neutral reactions. I haven’t had too many coming out’s in person. I did have one negative reaction, but it’s something that I expected.
And because I knew how she was going to react, it wasn’t terrible. It was a little freeing because I knew before there was a strain on our relationship. Before, when I was a very Christian child — or at least, trying to be — she was almost like a mentor to me. She’s older.
When I did start becoming comfortable with my sexuality, sometimes, it got uncomfortable. Because she was very vocal about how she was against gays. It was freeing for me to able to share that with her so she would know that that’s where I am.
CC: So, at least, at the bare minimum, she wouldn’t be talking shit. So to speak.
CC: How do you feel about the LGBT+ community and your place in it, as you’re becoming more comfortable with your sexuality?
DY: There’s so much that I don’t know and I want to learn. I know where I am now, it might be hard for me to get involved.
But I’m wanting to take a step away from my family... When I get that chance, I can explore more of this side of me. And find support. I feel like I’ll find a bigger friend group and my own chosen family. If shit hits the fan when I tell my parents about everything, I know I’d have that to support me.
CC: What do you want for the LGBT+ community? What do you envision?
DY: I know that there has been some hate that goes around the community — [I want] for everyone to be able to put that aside. To be able to just accept everyone for who they are. Even it does conflict with what you believe in. I feel like LGBT+ is supposed to stand for love and equality, no matter what...
CC: When you say there’s hate going around the community, is there anything in particular that you see?
DY: With gays saying that bis aren’t really apart of the community, because they’re not ‘real gays,’ or something like that.
I understand there are people that are Christians that shove the belief that gays are wrong. I feel like there are some gays that try and shove it down other people’s throats. ‘This is how it’s supposed to be. You need to get over it.’ There’s a limit to how much you can share you beliefs with [people]. You have to draw a line where you respect what someone believes, and still be able to love and support someone — even with those differences.
Nothing much has happened to me. But with everything that has, with finding more about myself in this community, with my sexuality? It’s been a very fun and exciting experience. And it makes me excited for more.