Although the Delhi High Court ruling on 2nd July, 2009 that decriminalised private consensual sex between two homosexual individuals was a breakthrough for gay rights, homosexuality remains a skilfully avoided topic in India. Even in urban areas of the country, where so much Westernisation has taken place, homosexuals withhold information that they know will be met with discomfort at best – and ostracism at worst. “When I finally came to terms with my sexuality, I tried telling my cousin and a few of my close friends, but at first they didn’t believe me and later, they were clearly uncomfortable and asked me not to talk about it”, says Kanika Dutta, a student at Delhi University. “They preferred to avoid the topic.”
They Â have little to no chance of expressing themselves in their daily life – to their peers, to their family or to their co-workers. They have virtually no platform to voice themselves. It often happens that they do not know where to turn for support, understanding or simply someone to listen.
This is where the Indian digital media comes into play.
Of late, there has been a surge of support groups, collective organisations and digital magazines to cater to India’s LGBT community and provide them with avenues for free conservation without any hindrances.Â Pink Pages, India’s largest and most successful LGBT digital magazine,Â has provided exactly such an avenue. “The idea behind Pink Pages was that I, along with my friends in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata thought we should provide a platform for the discussion of gay issues in mainstream media. It started off as a newsletter and became the first national magazine that gave a voice to the Indian LGBT community as a whole”, says Udayan, Editor-in-Chief.
“There is a gap, and we aim to fill this gap”, says Anuradha ofÂ QueerCampus India, a student-run initiative to provide support to students who are exploring their sexuality. “While in recent years, young gay people have been looking for an informal group of gay friends, QueerCampus aims to facilitate such interactions – without the formal and intimidating procedures employed by NGOs and helplines. It is important that we, as a community, should have support to offer.” QueerCampus provides great support to the gays and bisexuals in their late teens and early twenties, who are still grappling with their sexuality.
Gaysi (Gay Desi) is a vibrant, welcoming website with a talented team of writers and an open outlook towards new contributions. “We, here at Gaysi Family, provide a forum for gaysis with something to say, whether it’s personal opinions, coming out stories, poems, event notices or anything at all that is related to being gaysi”, states the website. With a teeming spread of fiction, non-fiction, personal stories and reviews, it is an excellent collection of thoughts and feelings of the community.
Thanks to such help, people grappling with the confusing question of their sexuality have many bolsters to support them. These ventures have ensured that there is no longer a blockage of discussion. It is of note that the response to these ventures has been large – showing that the gay Indian was in great need of being reached out to.
“Even when Pink Pages was new, and had no celebrity endorsement, advertisements or PR campaigning, every issue that we came out with was downloaded by thousands of Indians. The response from the very beginning has been overwhelming. That was the vision we had in mind when starting Pink Pages – we wanted a nation-wide forum for the LGBT community of India”, Udayan relates. “We’ve had the entire spectrum of LGBTQ and non-queer identified people and we’ve had participation from people who work, or study in colleges in Delhi”, is what Anuradha has to share.
Things are improving for the gay Indian thanks to these ventures. It is a testament to the enterprisingÂ and helpful natures of all the individuals who started up the Internet forums for allowing scope for the thoughts and feelings of all the members of this community throughout the nation – and extending them a much-needed helping hand.