Gone are the days when only skeletons used to peek out of the closet.
With every passing year, more and more living human beings are also slowly taking their steps out of it, and how!
Given the Section 377 of IPC criminalizes any sort of sexual act or involvement which is not procreative, the urban youth of this generation are a lot more open and accepting about the LGBT community than it was a decade back.
Not only are they mustering up the courage to come out about their gender and sexuality, they are flaunting it proudly in front of the world; and they are getting quite a lot of support from straight and cisgender people too.
The ever-increasing number of people who participate in the Pride Parades that take place in almost every major Indian city round the year is a living proof of that. People irrespective of literally any social restrictions, turn up in huge numbers with colourful banners, slogans, posters, balloons and rainbow coloured dresses and accessories.
Another most easily accessible platform is definitely the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. There are groups, pages and virtual communities dedicated to the LGBT people, so that they can share their stories and lives with each other. #LGBT, #RainbowPride, #GenderQueer – these are some of the most popular hashtags in social media circles.
Magazines devoted to the LGBT community like Pink Pages, GaylaxyMag etc have online portals which gives an open forum to them as well as their supporters to be engaged in discussions and addressing the relevant issues.
So can we safely say that a gay couple or a transgender woman can walk down the streets of our country without an ounce of self-consciousness? Probably not.
While most people in metro cities and urban areas will stop at raising an eyebrow or two, the scenario is quite different in the outskirts, and pretty roguish in the villages. And given our country’s demographics, that is a scary thought.
Homosexuality or gender queerness does not check a person’s origin or place of birth. It is intrinsic to the each and the difference between a straight and gay person is as natural an occurrence as one person having black eyes and another person with brown ones. But only in this case, one has to pay heavy prices.
In the village areas, not only the LGBTQ people are stripped of basic rights like education, job or basic human decency, they are also ripped off their dignity; that is if they ever manage to come out and declare their true identities in the first place.
So the bottomline is, one’s gender or sexuality is still an uncomfortable topic to address in public in most places of India. The cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata – which hold very liberating opinions about the same – only possess a fraction of the whole country’s population. So we need more events like Rainbow Pride Parades and Festivals, but not only in the city, but in the outskirts as well.
Ignorance is the root of almost every negativity, while awareness is quite the opposite.
And as far as equality is concerned, the LGBTQ people should not only get the basic rights, they also deserve the various options and opportunities that straight couples are usually get.
For example, there is a real lack of dating apps or partner-finding portals for LGBT people on the internet. In 2014, IndianWeb2 launched a website called Wonderful Things Happen – a site for lesbian women to find love online. There are some apps on the mobile app stores for similar purposes, but they are still much behind in number and accessibility than those devoted to straight couples.
Discrimination doesn’t always need to be violent. It can be seen in regular trivial matters, but they are of big significance. One comment, one gesture still shows the kind of mentality the society possesses about the community.
The root of equality lies in acknowledging the equality in everyday life, and not only on some occasions.
So only when a gay couple or transgender person can feel completely at ease in a roomful of strangers, and not a single head is turned towards them with a look of awe or disgust is when we can truly say that equality has been achieved.
It does seem like an uphill task, but surely not an impossible one.