This article was written two years ago in 2017. A lot has changed since then. September 6, 2018 was etched in Indian history as the day when love triumphed. At 11:30 am that morning, the Supreme Court issued its verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) subsequently decriminalising homosexuality and gay sex. This verdict was groundbreaking for all those who have lived with concealed identities all their lives and a massive step forward towards redefining the meaning of democracy for India. However, despite all that has changed the views of these young Indians, who spoke to Homegrown about what pride means to them, remain as relevant as ever.
Growing up as an LGBTQ individual anywhere in the world is confusing. Your teen years are filled with a multitude of emotions ranging from brief moments of euphoria to full blown panic. Your head is perpetually fuzzy as you attempt to navigate the pitfalls of teenage angst that are only exacerbated when self realisation dawns and you realise you are different from your peers.
But once that phase passes, and you come to terms with yourself, it truly begins to become better. A little something swells up in you and it gets larger and larger. On some days it takes up so much space that you almost find it hard to breathe—it almost consumes you. Yet, on other days, it flickers inside you like a little flame, a flame so tiny that even the slightest gush of self doubt might extinguish it. That feeling is Pride. For LGBTQ individuals, Pride is so much more than its simple, dictionary meaning (hence the capitalisation of the P). While it’s true that for some it simply becomes a small facet of their personalities, for many others, it becomes part of their identity, solidly cemented in with everything else that makes each of us human. It’s an acknowledgement that you are different, that you are beautiful in your own way and that you are no less of a person because of whom you choose to love.
Today we celebrate a decade of self love in New Delhi as the 10th edition of the Delhi Queer Pride is underway. We still have a long way to go, in terms of acceptance and abolishing of Section 377. But with fewer masks and more allies coming together with love and support, the wave of change is clear at the parade as we march forward towards a future free of hate.
It is in keeping with that spirit that we spoke to 16 young LGBTQ Indians and got them to tell us what Pride means to them—and the answers are as beautiful and individualistic as anyone could have hoped.
I. Aditya | 22, Final year undergraduate, IIT Bombay
II. Alexander | 18, Student
“Pride to me doesn’t mean a sense of superiority or achievement from my work or actions but rather from my existence itself. A sense that has taken me quite a while to develop, just to be able to say out loud that this is who I am, and this is what my sexuality is. Not a boastful statement, just a statement of facts. One wherein I don’t have to justify myself to anybody, one in which I can just be completely honest to everybody.”
III. Alisha| 27, Musician/Singer-Songwriter
Doesn’t care for labels.
“Pride as a concept is personal to everyone. To me, it’s about never wanting to seek approval or ask. I am proud of how I love. I love big, I make the same mistakes as everyone else. And if you tell me I have to find one day to celebrate the life I live, I can’t. Considering India and the laws in our country, I believe that a majority of people don’t live in metropolitan cities and those are the ones really struggling to find safe spaces. And when I want things to change, it’s for them. Not for myself. I don’t believe I need a law to tell me what I can and cannot do. I’ve had the privilege of my family by my side and I guess I can say I haven’t had to struggle. But the struggle is real for many and I only wish for them to be able to love with Pride.”
IV. Anisha | 21, IIT student
“For me, Pride is to be comfortable with my sexuality and be confident about it. The sense of not worrying what others are going to think about me—and even if they will I’m not going to be bothered by it”
V. Ann | 20, Social Media Manager
“I fall in love with women. I fall in love with men. I fall in love with people regardless of what’s in their pants. It’s their minds that sway me. I can’t process gender. For me, Pride is the exhilarating feeling of falling in love over and over again heedless of socially constructed gender norms. And Pride is falling in love with who I am. I’m a riot of colours. I take Pride in not being monochrome.”
VI. Isha | 16, Student
“To me, Pride is in existing, and existence is because of Pride. I am proud of my ability to exist, and I am able to exist because my Pride protects me. It protects me from my mother’s belief that those like me carry a genetic disease. It protects me when, in cinema, my existence is either a comedic trope or a thing too scandalous for kids. It protects me from those who would rather mock than understand. It protects me from myself when I can’t help but doubt myself. If to be or not to be is the question, then it is my Pride that enables me to say that I am queer and I am here. “
VII. Madhuri, 27 | Works at a startup
“The concept of Pride doesn’t really apply to me. I’ve always had people around me being very supportive of who I am and have never made me feel different for it—I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. My sexuality is not my identity, it’s just a part of it.
VIII. Raghav | 24, Banker
IX. Sarthak | 22, Pursuing B.Tech in Computer Science
“Pride to me is both, a strong sense of self-identity and liberalism. It makes me respect and accept the way I am and be happy about it. I hope there comes a time in this country where every member of the LGBTQI community can do the same and start living the life they want without inhibitions and prejudice.”
X. Saurabh | 19, Student of Mechatronics Engineering
“Pride, as I view it, is to be able to live zealously with a passion that is un-cursed and uninhibited by society at large. I take Pride not in defining myself to the world, but in having the choice, or rather, possessing the ability to express myself without attracting cruel judgments.”
XI. Siddhant | 37, Consultant
“Pride to me is celebrating my identity and loving myself the way I am.”
XII. Som | 19, Student
XIII. Sukhnidh | 17, Student and photographer
XIV. Sunny | 24, Student, MA in Gender Studies
XV. Taksh | 20, Student
Doesn’t care for labels
“For me, Pride is knowing that there is the weight of decades and decades of queer struggle behind every step I take today. Pride means acknowledging that the very reason that I am able to exist in this world the way I am is because people before me have paved the way at no small cost to their own selves. It’s about honouring those sacrifices and remembering the efforts of our people when times were different. I’m proud of the fact that this is my community, and my people. People usually don’t get to choose their family but as queer people, we make our own families. That’s what Pride is all about.”
XVI. Vikrant | 24, Writer, director and stage performer
If you enjoyed this article we suggest you read: