By Sakshi Juneja:
Ever since consensual sex among same-sex individuals was decriminalised in the country, many members of the queer community and its allies huffed a huge sigh of relief. The next morning, we were faced with an impending question- ‘Ab Kya?’ (Now what?) – by ourselves, our friends, and even people who never wanted to see queer rights become a reality.
Familiar questions like ‘can we marry now?’ and ‘has the fight been won?’ flitting through several minds, we know now that the fight towards equality in India has just begun. Here is a very *small* list of what we can start working on right away to ensure a more inclusive, brighter tomorrow!
Now that one of the smaller hurdles have been jumped over, there exists a very strong need for the sensitization of people within the workplace. An average human spends over 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, and if this space cannot be inclusive and welcoming for all kinds of humans it wouldn’t be the greatest thing.
A sensitive workplace begins from the policies that are put in place to ensure no one gets treated differently from the other. Making sure maternity leave is not gendered, policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual/gender identity, fluidity in clothing practices, a continued effort to sensitize the people at the workplace through workshops and training.
Intercourse occurs between many, many types of people. Sex education, thus, needs to be inclusive to the needs of all members of the society. Here comes the education of consent, too! Start young, yes, but also disseminate information about consent and sexual needs/ practices and safety among adults.
Spaces do not have to be made exclusively for the Queer community. Rather, existing spaces should be made friendly for those who also identify as queer among many other things, like they should be made friendly for disabled people*. This rings true, especially for Non-Binary people and women. There need to be places we can feel safe- and this should be taken care of by both management as well as the community.
Nothing comes out of legal acceptance if social acceptance cannot follow suit – and this is the difficult but realistic ground we all stand on. The media, like an invisible bullet that hits all our minds, is a dynamic sowing field to the thoughts that shape our society. The moment of representation of the Queer community in mainstream media is more inclusive, sensitive and responsible, acceptance will move faster than it is now.
You don’t have to call a person who is clearly LGBT as a token to a panel or a talk about design, for example. Just call a great designer who happens to be part of the community as well. The moment you treat a person’s sexual/ gender identity as the only identifying factor, you risk being tokenistic. This can be avoided when people don’t look for people who ‘look’ like they are from the queer community.
Understanding the complexities and nuances of human identity is not easy, but it isn’t impossible when allies and people within the community take it upon themselves to understand why things might be a certain way (or not a certain way). The Queer community needs allies now more than ever, and these allies need to take the responsibility along with us to make sure the way we are represented is intersectional and inclusive of everybody – be it people in the community that do not fit in particular boxes, those with special needs, disabled people*, or even those with a complex combination of identities. There is never only one way to identify with an identity – and that must be included and represented, whether in bills (like the Trans Rights Bill) or even in educational modules. The existence of a label does not mean it becomes a container.
The fight for complete equality is a long one, but it’s always one step at a time. It gets better.
*Usage of the phrase ‘disabled people’ according to a guide to appropriate terms to use : http://nda.ie/Publications/Attitudes/Appropriate-Terms-to-Use-about-Disability/
The author is the co-founder of Gaysi Family, a platform for LGBT voice and expression. She is the soul of Gaysi’s social media and off-line existence.