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I first fell in love in Delhi three years ago, with an Indian classmate during a college semester abroad.
The city and the relationship were new and exciting.
We spent hours talking in the warm kitchen, a cigarette dangling from my girlfriend's lips as she cooked.
My budding relationship with her and our new friends were sources of joy and support as I navigated being a bisexual woman in an unfamiliar culture. As a college student abroad in India, I was told multiple times - even in official program handbooks - not to "date the locals."This deeply condescending advice was based on American stereotypes about gender-based violence and Indian men.
After the 2012 rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, the Indian and international media covered the issue extensively.
Of course, women and LGBT people - particularly those from oppressed castes, classes or religious groups - suffer horrific violence in India.
I'm based at a university with students from all over India, from every cultural, socioeconomic and religious background, which means we have many different assumptions about gender, sexuality and consent. But it also makes every new friendship and conversation an incredible chance to learn from and love people I would never have met. The man who drove me drunk, too fast, on his motorcycle, who wouldn't stop even as I pleaded.The man who assaulted me in a sad, one-off sexual encounter at my apartment.The dozens of male strangers whose flirtatious Facebook messages I have ignored; yelled about; or tried, in awkward Hindi, to turn into conversations about feminism.These experiences of gender-based violence are familiar - I experienced similar incidents on my American college campus - and also further complicated by differences in language and culture. Powerful, brilliant women and loving, feminist men.But I've had my fair share of love stories, too - sexual relationships, yes, but also deep friendships. These relationships are why I keep coming back to a city 7,000 miles away from home.
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My friends and partners have helped me interpret cultural signals I don't understand, have pushed me to challenge my assumptions and have literally formed human walls between me and aggressive men.