There are no authority socioeconomics for the LGBT populace in India, yet the public authority of India submitted figures to the Supreme Court in 2012, as indicated by which, there were about 2.5 million individuals who proudly identify themselves as a part of the community. These figures are just based on those people who have self-proclaimed to the Ministry of Health. There might be a lot higher measurements for people who have hidden their character, since various LGBTQ Indians are living in the closet because of dread of separation.
Public conversation of homosexuality in India has been restrained by the way that sexuality in any structure is infrequently talked about transparently. Lately, notwithstanding, perspectives towards homosexuality have moved marginally. Specifically, there have been more portrayals and conversations of homosexuality in the Indian media and cinema.
Prior to striking down the pioneer time law a few associations have communicated support for decriminalizing homosexuality in India, and pushed for resistance and social fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others with marginalised identities traditional to India. India is among nations with a social component of a third sexual orientation. Mental, physical, enthusiastic and financial savagery against the LGBT people group in India keeps on being an issue. Lacking help from family, society or police, numerous gay assault casualties don't report the violations.
Here are two stories which touched my heart and made me think in ways I never did before. Two stories of people who refused to give up on themselves, two stories that make you question the system and the society.
Shaurya Batra is a 24year old fashion stylist and makeup influencer from Bikaner, Rajasthan who is deeply passionate about makeup and style, he tells me he’s always been, since a very young age.
“I would watch RuPaul’s Drag Race and find it very liberating, that’s how I got into makeup in the first place.”
Being brought up in a small and somewhat conservative town’s all boys’ school, he knew he was different from the rest. His earliest memories go back to the time where he would gracefully drape his mother’s saree and showcase his dance skills with great enthusiasm and skill in front of his family.
“Everything was great until one day my mom started praying in distress and forcibly made me eat the Prasad, upon being asked why she was doing it, she said it was for me to becomemanlier and give up my feminine side.
I was never into sports, I knew that wasn’t for me and that very fact brought upon me a truckload of insecurities. We live in a society where a lot of things are expected out of you, and if you fail to adhere to the societal norms, you automatically become the victim to a lot of bullying. I stopped wearing the cloths that fascinated me and slowly started losing touch with me feminine side.
I had a very close friend and things worked out in our favour when the both of us were placed in the same sections in 7thstandard. We had a spark, and as time passed we grew more and more infatuated. We would bunk classes to get to the playground and spend some time alone. Sometimes, he would come to my house for sleepovers too! This went on for about a year and that’s how I knew it was exactly what I wanted for myself. There was a girl’s school right across the road, my friend was a very popular jock and all the girls were into him. Since I was so possessive of him, it only made me uncomfortable and we fell apart eventually. I too, started dating a girl a year elder to me from the school across the road. I was on a dating spree for about 3 years where I dated multiple girls.”
Shaurya also mentioned a heart-breaking event from his life where was bullied to the extent where he was forced to take down his pants in front of the entire class just to prove to others that he was a “man”.
“By the time I turned 18 I knew I was just running away from myself, I forced heterosexual activities upon myself. I decided to not do that anymore and start fresh as I moved to Bombay for my big break. In my first year of graduation I was very popular and the people around me were very supportive and accepting. Somehow I still kept running from myself and dated girls on/off again. I did meet this one guy on a dating app who ended up blackmailing me. He said he knows my mother and would show her the screenshots and pictures of us if I didn’t give him the money. I started preparing myself for the consequences and 5 months later he got to my mom and told her everything. I had no choice but to own up. At that point it almost felt like I came out but was being forced back into the closet, I felt I couldn’t talk to them as they took it so casually to the point where it hurt me. To them it was a potential overconsumption of western culture. I didn’t feel like ever looking back as I led a very openly gay life in Bombay.
It was during this time that I started discovering myself more. I went to gay parties, I experimented with style, went to my first ever pride parade, I was socially acceptable and even got my first job as an assistant stylist. I also started seeing this guy who I really had feelings for. He even visited my family back in Bikaner and my mom liked him. She didn’t want to think of us anything more than friends but she also realised it’s no longer a phase. She told my sister, who had always been very accepting and supportive, how she wanted to be a part of my life and now the only option left with her was to step up and talk to me. Eventually she did open up and both of us shared our sides, she accepted everything with a vision and over time she’s growing more and more supportive. We now do each other’s makeup and have fun with it!”
Shaurya is now known as the “hometown hero” as he opened the gates of acceptance. Various children text him and look up to him and that’s what keeps him going. He wishes to settle down someday and start a family.
QUEER IS THE NEW NORMAL
“I already knew what things were like but I gave myself the time I needed and came out of the closet once I was comfortable enough” says Niyati, a 19 year old queer, she took things slow, one step at a time, at a steady pace.
“There was some sort internalised homophobia that made me feel a certain way, almost as if something would go wrong, but I always knew me and what I wanted. I’m lucky and I consider myself very privileged for having the kind of people I have around me, they were all very supportive. I haven’t had to face homophobic people till date, somebody trash talking behind my back is a separate story but nobody has ever said anything to my face.”
Kavya, also a 19 year old took her time figuring out her sexuality. She says never exactly knew and over that the internalised homophobia only decelerated the process.
“There was always a tomboyish side to me in school, every time I found a girl attractive I thought I simply want to be her friend until I had a prolonged crush on a girl in school. It was then that I decided to educate myself and my friends were very supportive all this time. Nobody was surprised or taken aback when I came out because according to them, they always knew. My parents too, have been very supportive. They asked me to take my time with things, figuring out what I want. They feel it’s some sort of a trend, as you may call it these days, to be bisexual. But I mean hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!”
Kavya also talked about facing homophobia a couple of times which left her devastated because it came from peculiar source such as her friends.
Upon being asked what they’d want people to know and sensitise, they said,
“It would bring about so much change in our society if people just educated themselves more, little by little every day. What we have right now is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much stigma that surrounds the topic and a lot needs to be done about that. Not everyone is as privileged as us and considering their circumstances is of more significance when we talk about LGBTQ rights. I’m sure nobody minds educating if the other person is keen on learning!”
The two are in love and continue to break barriers each day.
Amongst many other stories were these which truly live up to the saying “LOVE IS LOVE”. Love for others and love for yourself and who you are beyond measure, societal norms, gender and mental barriers. I personally am of the strong faith that a change especially in a country like India can be brought about with education solely. The marginalised communities like LGBTQIA+ need to be uplifted, provided with equal rights and their mental, physical, emotional and socioeconomic issues must be recognised in order for there to be a faultless solution. Love has no limits, only people do and it is very important to look beyond labels. As humans if we fail to do so, then aren’t we just failing humanity?