Orthodox practices in India have made their roots from medieval times and 6th of September, 2018 marked the abolishment of one of those practices which have always put constraints on the abbreviations of love. The five-member bench of the Supreme Court de-criminalized homosexuality in India and Justice Indu Malhotra read out the verdict and said, society owes the LGBTQ community an apology for the historical wrongs perpetrated against it.
LGBTQ community breathed the air of freedom after what seemed like an eternity, while the debate was molded towards the battle with the holy, Indian history provides with examples of how homosexuality was never a western idea.
We have been brought up in the environment where we are told that being called a ‘hijra’ is an abuse, while defining the social tasks for genders and coming out as LGBTQ to one’s own self is more difficult than the society, mainly because of many ideas for juxtapositions it has created.
We have heard many stories amidst the celebrations at pride marches across the nation, some of which were an amalgamation of bittersweet moments with family, while some felt they are more provided for fighting their battles with the harassments at work or colleges, while for some, this euphoria subsided with the setting sun.
Due to the lack of sex education in the country, homophobia has taken a turn towards offensive humor and lack of empathy towards the community’s struggle for social acceptance, while some are walking on the roads of equality with a lot more dignity.
One year after the abolishment of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, we look at the stories of some members from the community who coveted freedom since they realized their sexuality.
Bhavya and Ruth
“Sharing our joy for the verdict was so overwhelming that it was at the eventful day, we told our parents about our sexual preferences”, said Bhavya, who is a Delhi-based artist studying at College of Art, DU. Life changed for Bhavya and Ruth, who is the founder of a Delhi-based LGBTQ organization called Nazariya. “We finally received the long due attention by media and itt felt nice to be represented at last and have a voice. Queer culture lost some stigma from privileged, educated circles but something weird also happened amidst all the celebrations. Suddenly all major brands were congratulating, giving discounts and endorsing rainbow merchandise and social media was flooded with stories from people who hadn’t cared before. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is how open straight people are about queerness now and have possibly started seeing it as something profitable. The community has been seen as a subject for art, written media, movies or advertising and one could say this is good for the community but this actually draws away from actual queer narratives. Trans-gendered actors don’t get roles and we have cis-gendered actors portraying them in movies and making money. People want the glamour while they conveniently forget that we still cannot donate blood, opt for surrogacy, serve in army or have a legally recognized marriage. The common public still doesn’t know much about queerness, let alone article 377 and its implications. The change in law is a minute drop in the ocean where the real issues remain unattended, with the queer culture becoming a trend. People think we are suddenly everywhere; they are wrong. We were and have always been here and loud, they just never cared to listen. To us, the queer movement is political and cannot move forward without intersectionality and working at the grassroots level.”
Mumbai based artist and a renowned fashion model, feels that with the removal of section 377, the queer community has only been acknowledged for their existence with the promise of not to be disturbed within the walls of their rooms.
“Gay men have always seen as a commodity for mockery and content for exploitation. I myself have seen how being more on the feminine side of me was mocked by people around. Why is it a bad thing? Why can’t we embrace our feminine side and not be an object for contempt? Things have not changed since the verdict which came out last year as we are still to be socially accepted and given equal rights to. What if I want to marry someone? Or adopt a child? Equality doesn’t lies within the boundaries of our walls, it lies beyond that as well.”
A transgender model and blogger from Mumbai has seen things in many shades of darkness. Being crowned with titles like ‘Rose Queen’, ‘Mx Queen 2019’ amongst many, she orated at many platforms which gave her voice to tell about the atrocities on the community and how people could be uplifted through dialogue and free will. Her perspective was more optimistic than others, where she was vocal about how scenarios are changing and how people now acknowledge and accept the community.
‘We had to take the first step in order to bring noticeable changes in society. Societal norms often create the perception of whom we are supposed to be with. There were a lot of issues within the community which eventually affected our stand on 377. But times have changed and we are getting more confident with each passing day.’
She dreams of a world free from judgments and constraints on how we are supposed to live.
We hope society becomes more inclusive of minorities and nobody should be guilty of coming out, again.