Kolkata is about to get a special platform for the LGBTQ community to showcase its unique talents.
Named ‘Troyee’, the initiative is being led by Shree Ghatak Muhury, who became the first trans woman in India to legally marry her partner, Sanjay Muhury, this February. With the help of fellow members of the community, she intends for the platform to encourage LGBTQ people to go into the arts, performance, film production, and various other lines of work. And it’s important, because there are currently several obstacles standing in the way of LGBTQ people and steady employment.
A study released earlier this year by queer think-tank MINGLE revealed rampant homophobia in Indian workplaces, including sexuality-based harassment, and being fired for being queer. Many trans people have shared experiences of discrimination at work, and it is these very overwhelming conditions that systematically keep a large number of trans and queer people out of jobs.
But it is also pressure and a lack of acceptance from families that leaves many LGBTQ people in the lurch, often forcing them out of their homes to fend for themselves. While there are LGBTQ Indians who come from privilege, and are still better equipped to deal with discriminatory work environments, a pressing need for income and resources leads many to sex work or begging.
Troyee hopes to make an intervention here, giving LGBTQ folks exposure and financial assistance to pursue a career path with more safety nets, and more prospects. For the platform to gain the most traction, Muhury intends to reach out to the the West Bengal Transgender Welfare Board, the state body that was constituted last year to carry out work on documentation, health and education for trans people.
Muhury says she is willing to enlist the help of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as well, by highlighting the cultural value of such a platform.
Last week, some businesses in Mumbai and Delhi kicked the hornet’s nest by trying to ban gay couples from their premises. The incident raised many arguments about how businesses ought to vye for the Pink Rupee – or the spending power of LGBTQ people in India. But many LGBTQ Indians don’t have that spending power when they are systematically declined a place in the mainstream workforce. So if a platform like Troyee is working to address the issue of employment then it does hold immense value – cultural or not.