Today, homosexuality and queer identities may be acceptable to more Indian youths than before. But within the boundaries of family and school. Acceptance of their sexuality and to express openly their gender choices still remain a constant struggle for the LGBTQ+ community. In India, where social media and corporate initiatives have created increased awareness of LGBT rights. While their voices have been heard through online and offline platforms form an important part of LGBT activism. These expose only a small part of the diverse challenges faced by the community.
Apart from the pride parades, meet-ups, and discussions. Families in rural India have their own ways of dealing with queer individuals. In some parts, secret honour killings are planned. Queer women are subjected to rapes, which are often performed by their own family members. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, a transwoman LGBT activist, has openly spoken about her abuse at school, says that transmen in rural areas are stripped of their basic human rights.
The consequences of coming out
A recent study found that one of the major factors that result in the shame of the LGBTQ+ community is the parental reaction towards homosexuality. The study goes on to conclude that most of them are acceptable to family only if they agree to behave like heterosexuals. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil leads several initiatives to help the LGBTQ+ community. He says the community must not get carried away by what they see in the media. He recommends being financially prepared and emotionally detached from your family before coming out.
Sakshi Juneja, the founder of Gaysi, is an online space for the LGBTQ+ community. She says one can never plan enough. “Financial and emotional stability are must-haves before you communicate with your family. At the end of the day, family members want nothing more than a safe and secure future for you. So it helps if you don’t come out in a state of emotional or financial breakdown.”
Redefining family and its role
The lack of family support can prove to be a big blow to the coming out, mentally and physically. Isolation and pressure to conform often lead to depression. Many of them prefer to move to another city to stay away from the pressure to marry and start a family. With the absence of family support, social media have offered accessible alternatives to form a community. Platforms like Queer Ink have helped carve out spaces for LGBT people to interact and share.
Gohil says in the absence of family support, many of them decide to give in and marry. “Many lesbian women come to me with requests to find a gay man who would be ready to put up with this show of marriage. That way they don’t have to worry about coming out to satisfy their family. “According to Shahani, the basic responsibility of any parent is to accept their children’s identity. “You are just fulfilling your responsibility. By accepting your child, you are also helping create a better society that values diversity. Above all, accepts the uniqueness of people as they are,” he says.
Working with Gen Next
It is an encouraging sign that schools and colleges have begun to take up institutionally queer activism. Rohit Revi, one of the founders of Orenda, the gender and sexuality club at IIT Gandhinagar. He says without queer activism in educational institutions, LGBTQ+ issues largely remain not talked about. “Our broad agenda is to make LGBT students and their struggles visible. “Bridging the gap between academic knowledge and everyday experience means we need people to question stereotypes.
Currently, our educational model is based on obedience to authority and unquestioned following of rules and regulations. This must change. We have to encourage our children to question and learn from debate. Children must be taught about their basic human rights and the tools available to protect those rights,” she says.
“Secondly we need to talk about Section 377. We need to talk about the new transgender bill, which the vast majority of transgender people find unacceptable.
The liberalization of attitudes towards queers has occurred in many countries. Yet gaps to accept and freedom of expression remain restricted in sharing of controversial content or minority viewpoints. To close this gap, movements must encourage various forms of media to tell more real stories about the community. Hence, promoting a more representative depiction of queers in the media may expand tolerance towards all. In some parts of the world where homosexual rights are still controversial. However, both personal and virtual contacts bring a positive image of the community which can lead to a change.