It’s been a year since section 377 was legalised in India. But it’s been years since love grew in our hearts. The Indian Penal Code no longer criminalises homosexuality. This means that the LGBTQ+ community is no longer “illegal.”
But has this really changed how society feels? Have people actually accepted the Rainbow Community? Has the Indian society been mindful of different sexual orientations? When I refer to society, I’m not just referring to aunties and uncles who “judge the youth.” I’m talking about the youth. The youth who are insensitive enough to use words like “fags” as insults. The youth who “enjoy” when girls make out. The youth who are the future of the nation.
It’s time to break the stigma. It’s time we sensitise ourselves.
Let me begin by telling you a bit more about the LGBTQ+ community. The LGBTQ+ community consists of people with a lot of different sexual orientations. The rainbow was first used as a symbol for the queer community in 1978. It remains a symbol of love, peace, and pride. Each individual community (pansexual, aromantic, lesbian, etc) has their own flag too!
The LGBTQ+ is a loving and embracing faction. Despite being a strong and diverse community, most members are at a high risk for suicidal feelings. This is because of the discrimination and prejudice that they face. Hate crimes against homosexuals are still prevalent and they’re the reason people continued to fight for Section 377. It also arises from the many cases of rape, humiliation and bullying against members of the community. Transgender people are a particularly marginalised community in this regard. According to a health resource centre called Swasti, nearly 44% of the transgender people have experienced violence since childhood.
But in this dark, grim world, there comes a bright and beautiful rainbow in the form of pride month. Perhaps the most widely known part of this month are the pride parades. A celebration of the many loving members of the community, pride parades are marches usually organised by members of the LGBTQ+ community. They’re an attempt to make people more aware about homosexuality, transgender identities, and the queer people. The first pride parade in India was in 1999 in Kolkata. Since then, there have been marches in Bengaluru, Chennai, Kerala, Pune, Patna, Chandigarh, Gujarat, and Jaipur to name a few.
The spirit is very much alive here at Manipal. The students of School of Communication, Manipal organised a Pride parade right here in Manipal! The Campus Ally March was just the beginning. This also marked the launch of the Q&A: Queer and Ally Network. It is, as they describe it, “An attempt at turning a university town into a queer-friendly space, and creating a collective voice for anything/anyone LGBTQ+.”
Photo by Saachee Deshmukh – The Photography Club, Manipal
It’s important for us to embrace ourselves as we are. Most people are too afraid to come out because of what people might think. We’ve created an environment where people are too afraid to be themselves.
I hope there comes a day when we all respect people of all sexual orientations. A day when no one is afraid to be themselves. Because each time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better and more interesting place.
It’s time we stand as one. It’s time to accept diversity.