Is It Getting Better To Be Gay In India?
The laws aren't there, neither are people's mindsets. So, why am I optimistic about the G in LGBT? Or is it just better to be gay in India?
So much happening this year, and it’s just 13 days into the new year; which means you won’t be surprised if I tell you that it is getting better to be gay in India. Wait. WHAT?
Sure, the recent SC statement about a relook into its judgment on Section 377 is a welcome decision. But on another, a more personal level, I have reason to believe the above statement. Why?
One of the things I had been doing in the past months was work at a startup/marketing agency/application development venture. My task, as the new intern, was to prepare content for a brand-new video channel. The topic? Why, any informative & interesting topic would do!
As you can imagine, that was a massive canvas to begin with.
Everyone contributed their best-of lists, in-controversy issues, the likes. The aim was to make a video which would organically get views and viewers; since no one had any idea on how that would happen, every topic was taken and made a video on. It was like throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick.
Subsequently, we fell on hard times; a new YouTube channel was obviously going to struggle getting viewers, but a channel which had no idea on what it specialized in? 40 videos later, as even our best & most research-demanding videos failed to break the triple digit mark, everyone lost hope of the channel project amounting to anything. End of Act 1.
A couple of months later, we found something weird.
Somehow, one of our videos had started pulling in viewers, that too not just from India, even Pakistan & Saudi Arabia. It had been picking up pace, from 100 to 200 to 500..
It was about famous Indian personalities who were openly gay.
Which was funny, because an earlier video we had made on famous Indian transgenders failed to have any sort of meaningful relationship with the views counter. Now, we just watched its counterpart rise. The real improvement was yet to come though.
As it became the 1st video from our channel to cross the 1k mark, a week after this miraculous rise (which was relayed across our office), a guy (the youngest one in our office) mixed up gay with transgender.
The others made fun of him, and told him what was the difference between the two terms. Alright, maybe they did not use the best available terms, but they did make the difference clear. Maybe they still will be unable to look at an openly queer person without any bias. But they do know that sexual orientation has no impact on talent, or recognition or (the most important for a normal Indian) monetary success.
On a somber note, another thing which justifies why its better to be gay in India was the lack of visibility & information on Indian lesbians and both male/female bisexual individuals, something we looked for when looking for lesbian or bisexual Indians. In essence, there were no best-of or top-5 lists of lesbian Indians. They apparently never left the closet.
On The Other Side Of The Rainbow
To sum up, if any individual from the LGBT community is reading this, to you I have just one appeal. Step up & talk. Why?
In the past year, as I had been looking for internships, mostly unsuccessfully, one place where I managed to work was at Queer Support India. Though I went there with the best of intentions, the problem faced there was unique; after a certain point, you can keep writing for the LGBT audience only if you are in the shoes of (or familiar with) the actual queer community. As a straight guy (who by accidents of both chance and choice had been unable to fraternize with the LGBT community), I ran out of stories to tell, or experiences to share. Because they aren’t mine, they are yours to share & tell. That’s like the difference between a cheerleader (me) and the players (you). Eventually, you are the one who has to go out to play.
Here’s to a more hopeful 2018!