2018 was a happy year for the LGBTQAI community in India. I remember people happily cheering and crying when everyone saw the news of freedom being flashed everywhere – reading down Section 377, finally!
But if you think Homosexuality in India is now about living freely like unicorns and rainbows, I’m sorry you’re wrong! Well, there is still much to do. Today some family, home, school, professions, and society around us still doesn’t allow queer people, adultery, gay-sex, or it is simply intervened as mental instability. The struggle to maintain acceptance even after reading down 377, hasn’t eased the frustrations of the community surrounding homophobia.
Because of all these, many people from the LGBT community fear coming out of the closet or disclose their personal information. For some being a part of the queer community is a huge part of identity but for some its not. Coming out is not at all easy like some sitcom or movie scene. It’s often as fearsome, panic, and fear of judgment pouring out. Honestly, there’s no correct way to come out that easily in India. The stigmatization of LGBT people is a parental reaction towards coming out or acceptance by family only if the person agrees to behave like heterosexual. However, there are many other communities or corporate initiatives in India finding ways to help, support, and create awareness for the queer community. There are friends and families and a queer-affirming therapist to understand the pressure and trails of being a queer in India.
Honestly, it has been upbeat for gay men than for lesbians and transgender people. People are using large platforms like social media, parades, and meet-ups to create awareness and acceptance.
But the harsh reality is that in many parts of India, conversion therapy, corrective rapes approved by families, and secret honour killings are practised. Even today, you can see headlines of suicides by lesbian women every year in urban India. What’s the biggest problem? Lack of Awareness, some people still believe being gay is a sin and children normally think being gay is a subject to joke or parents will just assume it as a phase. Protesters still stick a tag on the queer community as unnatural or anti-national.
So, we spoke to our queer friends to share advice for other queer people out there to help them with their LGBT issues. The common suggestions were to be open about who you are according to the situation, exercise good judgment when is the right time to tell a safe person with whom you can confide in. People tend to react in different ways so be ready to accept that. Be true to yourself, not doing that will take a huge toll on your mental health. Whether you like dressing in a different way, or you like to speak in a different way it’s okay to do that there’s nothing wrong with that, just be confident.
Getting involved in queer communities is the best thing you can do to be a queer yourself. Because in India the queer communities are the most creative ones and you get a lot of things to explore. Coming out is not a one-time thing, it’s a long, repetitive series of explanations of your sexual orientation, so be prepared for that. You’ll also hear a series of weird questions like, “Come on, is bisexuality even a thing?”, “Threesome is common in your community, right?”, “Who do you look at when you watch porn?” “I’m not homophobic but how do you guys have sex?” “Have you always been gay?” and there are a lot of many! People won’t stop being unfair to you. Always remember to protect yourself and don’t take your mental health for granted, especially when the environment around is conservative.
Keeping all the negativity aside, India is no exception to making everyone proud of positive queer moments. From Election commission appointed the first transgender ambassador to Dutee Chand opened up about her same-sex relationship to Bollywood taking initiative releasing same-sex love stories to first trans person was awarded Padma Shri to many corporates declared a queer-friendly HR policy. Many Educational institutions are taking every step to make students realize the ideals of equality and making them prepare to believe in LGBT rights as one of the important rights.
Coming out in India can sound terrifying but honestly, it’s a brave and coolest thing you can do in your life. You will finally stand up for yourself and you will never regret making that decision.
As a human, we must accept and celebrate their sexual orientation. Even if you are not homosexual, always lend your voice to them. We all must come together to fill the gap between the queer community and the stigmatization of queer sexual orientation. Let’s not make this world more difficult for them, they’ve been through a lot. After all, love is love!