Art by Amruta Patil
“I kissed a girl, and I liked it. The taste of her cherry chapstick.” Or in Aditi’s case, talcum powder – which she was very into, the 90’s kid that she was. Agents! We asked some queer women what it felt like when they kissed a girl for the first time. For some it was just a senseless blur, for some, a first taste of pleasure (literally), for many a moment that confirmed their sexuality and for one, something that helped her leave a violent marriage, for her own happiness.
Ek ‘Kiss’ mein kitna hai dum? These stories tell you what a single kiss can mean.
“My lips were sore and I blushed the entire next day”
Salima, 22, Lesbian
She was the first person I’d matched with on Tinder. We met a few times, were comfortable as friends, but also used to flirt with each other. I didn’t know if we were going out because we never discussed ki kya chal raha tha, bas chal raha tha.
One day she called me over when no one was home. I wasn’t expecting anything as I didn’t want to get hurt, but somewhere in my head there was hope. We spent the whole day together and then in the middle of the afternoon, we got drunk. At some point, we were sitting across each other on the dining table just staring at each other, smiling, blushing and what not. I was anxious, looking at the time constantly and I did the weirdest thing – I removed my watch, it was a subconscious move. Then, she finally said:
“Can I kiss you?”
“I’m warning you, I’m a bit scared”
“I’m not scared. But yeah, I’m conscious”
I should have made the effort to at least go up to her, because she walked across the table and kissed me. It was my first kiss so it was…intense. I had never kissed anyone before, let alone a girl. I felt very accepted ki okay, so she does have feelings for me. I was also thinking – Am I doing this right? Is this fine? She’d kissed others before so I was obviously a little insecure. The most unexpected thing – I thought it would end there, but it didn’t. We wound up in her bedroom, kissing all evening and by the end of it my lips were very sore.
I was blushing the entire next day. I had to tell my friends what happened the second I entered class because they could see it on my face ki kuch toh hua hai – my face was glowing that much.
“My heart was heavy, but I felt I could fly. That kiss was my first definition of pleasure”
Aditi, 37, Cis Woman
The story of my first kiss goes back to 8th grade. At that time I didn’t have the vocabulary for what I was feeling but I was sure about the feeling itself. I knew I was attracted to girls. I had just joined this new Marathi medium school and there was a person I liked from day one.
It was very organic for me. I was sure what I felt for this girl and made sure my intentions were clear, but she wasn’t receptive. She was maybe going through her own confusions because it was a never-heard kind of situation in that town and it took me almost 5-6 months to woo her.
In a small town, finding space to express anything was a challenge. We had the freedom to go over at each other’s houses to play, but were always surrounded by family, either hers or mine. Even though I barely had any vocabulary for love, thanks to what I felt about her I managed to write her a letter. She was prickly when I gave it, saying she’ll tear it up and wants nothing to do with me. I was heartbroken. But I still felt there was something as I had caught her staring at me, making excuses to sit near me and of course accidentally brushing against me.
Two weeks of torture later, one evening I was playing in her neighbourhood and she’d made up her mind by then. She said she hadn’t torn up my letter, had read it multiple times and felt the same way but didn’t know what all this means. I sat there, almost sweating, not knowing where this was leading and a tiny voice in my head was asking – how will this end? We had a small talk and she told me (in Marathi) that one thing she knew is that love is limitless. Now that I think about that moment, what she meant was that love was beyond the binaries, beyond the boundaries of gender. And when we finished talking, it led to our kiss – my first kiss.
I made the first move. As for the kiss itself (this sounds weird, but it was the 90’s) – I was very very attracted to the talcum powder she used. There’s always these other senses involved in attraction right? That smell used to make my heart race so fast even if she was meters away from me. My heart felt heavy, but at the same time, I felt very light like I could fly. My skin felt like it was shining. I basically felt like Jesus. And that kiss was my first definition of pleasure because I finally felt my desire being fulfilled.
I was with her for a long time – twelve years, and it was much later on that she told me something that had been a puzzle for me all these years… why torture me for two weeks when the attraction was mutual? And she said “I’ve always known you’re a womanizer and it would have been too easy for you if I said yes right away!”
“Compared to that kiss, everything is ordinary now.”
Parmita, 24, Sexual Identity – Constantly Fluctuating
We were neighbors. Every day after junior college, we’d get on the same bus and go to her house first. Without saying anything, all subliminal in-the-air cues, which I’m not sure if I’m imagining, we’d just be together in her room. And then I’d go home. The day of the asking out, I went home & texted her “Will you go out with me?” The phone tinged, she’d said yes and I screamed for half an hour in my room.
The next day I was so scared to go to college. When we saw each other, we were all awkward and I was thinking ki ab toh kiss hoga. Lekin kab? I don’t know. When we went to her house as usual, she told me that all day she wanted to take me to the bathrooms and kiss me. Turning deep purple red, I said nothing. I was the shyest girl in the world. After that, she shut up and so did I. Everyday it was like this – minimum talking, only smiles.
She was too beautiful for me. She’d kissed before but I had not. So I was not even going to try making a move. It was one of these days just as I was leaving, she’s like “Paro” and I’m like “Ha?” and somehow I know it. I’m dying inside and she asks “Can I kiss you?” and I say yes. We got closer and something weird happened. It was like a vacuum, lasted 1/5th of a second and we broke apart. She said “Let’s try it again?” and we did. Mostly I could just hear my beating heart but didn’t know what happened with our mouths. Again we shot apart, I went home and that’s it.
The next day, it felt more comfortable. We were lying down together, my head below her hair. The light was yellowish reddish in the room and somehow being so close to her, I turned my head round and so did she. And in the most easy manner, we kissed each other. Slowly slowly slowly feeling her, I don’t know how long we went on… it could have been an hour. It was unbelievable and it was a kind of intensity which nothing has ever matched up to afterwards in my life. Compared to that kiss, everything is ordinary now.
“With boys, I felt disgusted. But you can say I liked her saliva since I was in love with her!”
Shakti, 24, Transwoman Lesbian
Unfortunately my first kiss was a boy, but once I figured out my comfort zone is with women, my first kiss with a woman was a great story.
I’ve been part of every color of the LGBT rainbow. Assigned male at birth, had some homosexual romance in school which didn’t work out, realized I wasn’t comfortable with my body – so I transitioned, had a bisexual phase too. But after my first experience with a woman, I settled down.
I already identified as a lesbian when I met her. She was from Peru and had a thing for Indian women. We spoke on dating apps & FB, and though it was risky, I was convinced she’s real. And then one winter, she came to India.
She said ‘I know no one in India except you, so I’d like you to help me out.’ She traveled all around India, but I was her guide in Mumbai. I’ve been almost everywhere in Mumbai but when you accompany a person, you see things anew. And yes – my first kiss was with her.
We kissed in a hotel room. I was nervous that what if this person is taking advantage of me? As a transwoman, I make it clear: are you falling in love with a person, or their body parts? I need a deep connection to trust someone with my body, so I don’t regret it later.
We were lying down and she must have been very eager because she said “You know what would be better if we do right now?” I said “What?” She said “Let’s make out” and I said yes. She immediately jumped on top of me and kissed me. And for the first time I felt I wasn’t pretending or just letting it happen. It was soft, warm and real, you know? You feel like you’re dreaming, that time has just stopped. It was very sacred to me and then… it went way more ahead than kisses. I learnt a lot about kissing from her. With lesbians it’s very wet. It’s just not limited to the lips. It’s everywhere.
With boys, I felt disgusted by how the saliva spills all over you, it felt like they’re only lusting over me, but if you’re in love with a person, all these things become like gold for you, you enjoy that. So I can say that I liked her saliva since I was in love with her! And when she left from India na, she said I’m saying ‘goodbye’ only to say ‘hello’ again and that she’ll come back someday.
“The sense of comfort and togetherness we shared helped her get through a difficult time too. Some months after I left, she worked up the courage to leave too.”
Harshita, 50, Woman, No labels. I am what I am
I was just shy of 16. I had been sent to the US for high school, and was living with an American family. I became close to K, the wife, because she not only looked after me functionally, but was also very kind to me, very caring.
They didn’t have a good marriage and led separate lives, in separate corners of the house more or less. He worked the night shift and wasn’t around in the evenings. And because we were together in the house so much, she would also confide in me – I mean, to the extent you can to a 16 year old.
Those evenings, her favourite thing to do, once dinner was eaten, the washing up done, kids asleep, was to open up a bottle of wine and listen to her amazing collection of Motown records. I would listen with her and we would talk.
One time she said, oh that’s my favourite song, and I don’t know how…I just asked her to dance to it with me. And then, somehow, we just, quite naturally, kissed. It wasn’t my first kiss. I had kissed a few boys. But my first with a woman. And it felt like I had not kissed before. It wasn’t a long kiss, or heavy in any sense. It was a very gentle, tender kiss. And it blew my mind. There was no awkwardness after – we flowed back into our usual rhythm.
But it sowed some sort of a seed – that this is a possibility. I had no language for this kind of love-attraction before. I came to the US at 15 from a very typical, conventional middle-class family. Sex and sexuality aren’t exactly a discussion there, queer love toh door ki baat. I was clueless and naïve even with boys. But, there was a sense that this isn’t fun, there’s something missing. Now the thought filled my head and I began looking at women in class around me differently and wondering.
The moment also opened the door to more experiences with her. Just, sometimes, in the nights, after the wine and music, intimacy would happen, though looking back now I realize how chaste it was, really. It was complicated of course, but it was never painful. Our relationship remained kind and caring.
By the time I felt ready to suggest we do something more, it was time for me to leave. Very filmi – pehle haath pakda, phir nazdeek aaye aur phir bicchad gaye!
But it shaped my intimate journey completely. Where there is a pre-existing notion of sex, there is a kind of fast-forward behaviour. Things like tenderness, gentleness, simple attraction and small gestures don’t acquire as much meaning, but they matter.
This was an eye opener that physicality can have loving-ness, sympathy, sensitivity, that I can take my time. It’s not just about power and getting or taking. There is no race, there is no necessary outcome, that passion and aggression are not inevitably the same, which is what I had known with boys. It gave me time to understand myself, a lot.
I had a history of sexual abuse – the Indian relatives I stayed with when first I came to the US. It was like a sore on my skin, I was always picking at. But that corner of time became a refuge – for both of us – a space for rebuilding the possibility of love.
I am still in touch with K. About two years ago she said to me, the sense of comfort and togetherness we shared helped her get through a difficult time too. It gave her an oasis of calm, and an awareness that her reality of emotional violence and unhappiness was not inevitable. And some months after I left, she worked up the courage to leave too.
I was very moved when she told me that. That we could be that to each other.
“Usually I’d be awkward about no music playing in the back because I’m like ew all these sounds can be heard. But in this case I didn’t mind it at all.”
Anonymous, 24, Queer Woman
I had kissed many girls before, just pecked friends on their lips – all of them were damn stupid, like ahahahaha we’re drunk, it was absolutely stupid, but they didn’t matter. And then it happened with someone whom I actually liked which was a completely different experience. My first real kiss was an “Oh my God” kind of moment because there was a whole build-up to it. She was much older than me, 6-7 years almost and was my colleague. I’d stay late at work, chilling with her, and it was nice – we were friends, even though I knew I had a crush on her.
This one time at an office party, I got drunk and I told her I liked her. And she told me she liked me too. But she was leaving and moving back to her hometown for good. Start of every intense queer story ever coz everything is always long distance, right? I decided to have a farewell party for her. But the whole time, we were trying to get some alone time, which almost didn’t happen at all. We were losing it a little bit as we wanted to act on things, so we ended up going to her house. It happened very fast – we were tipsy and she probably initiated it because I was too nervous. In my head I was going “Oh my god! This is what it feels like kissing someone you like!” Then I went “Oh my god, our faces ARE touching, what do I do? I don’t know if I’m doing this right!” but because I was drunk, it was all fine. It was just genuinely really nice. It was my first time ever with someone I actually liked and my first partner ever, so I was surprised that someone likes me back.
Usually I’d be awkward about no music playing in the background because I’m like ew all the sounds can be heard like *gagging sound*. But in this case, I didn’t mind it at all. It feels weird talking about this because I absolutely cannot stand this person anymore. Now that I’m with someone who’s been my favourite person to be with so far, when I look back at it I’m like “Oh my God” I was with a not-so-nice person so long. So yeah, fun! But you can’t know at the start, can you!
“I said “No! This is only the second time I am meeting you, I had no idea.” And then we made out.”
Krishna PS, 25, People say she’s probably asexual, she says she’s probably lesbian
I was 24 years old. It was a friend of a friend. I’d met her on Tinder though. We were enjoying the calm sunset, there was no agenda. I was on her lap lying down, she was telling me some story about Gandhi. I honestly had no intentions but it’s true that I started the whole shit. I was absent-mindedly kissing her hand and she took it to be a sign of interest. I went back to the room saying I want to lie down and she joined me. At that point I still didn’t suspect anything. Then she just kissed me and I was like “What the hell is happening?” She said “I had a crush on you for the longest time, didn’t you know?” I said “No! This is only the second time I am meeting you, I had no idea.” And then we made out.
She was super-experienced, so it was really pleasant. I was taken aback, like I’ve been avoiding this my entire life and now you’re just giving it to me. But within a few minutes I went from “Holy shit holy shit, no” to “This looks like fun, so okay!”
I had never fantasised kissing a girl, never had a crush before, any celebrity crush either. I liked my project mate a year ago and felt like going out with her for a coffee but beyond it, nothing. I’m a very boring person. But atleast I was hoping it was on a holiday or something similar, definitely not someone I met on Tinder. I was hoping it would be somebody I knew. Even if it was a friend I wouldn’t mind it, but this was someone I barely knew. I wasn’t even drunk when it happened.