The LGBTQ community in India is in a constant battle for acknowledgment. Shunned and outlawed the community finds solace in being true to their beliefs even if it is behind closed doors. One Indian born photographer, Charan Singh created an outlet for these vibrant identities in his series “Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others”. As a member of the LGBTQ community himself this project came from a place of very personal emotion. Photographers from all over the world have highlighted the struggle of this society but Singh had a different goal, he wanted to show their personalities, to celebrate their uniqueness and their joy. As he says, “If I didn’t do this work photographs will only ever represent these people as victimised. Nobody would know who we really were. My goal is to create images of people as they wanted to be portrayed.”
The breakdown of the LGBTQ sector in India is manifold but Singh wanted to showcase only a few within that bracket. “Kothis” who are feminine working class homosexuals; “Hijras” are eunuchs or transgender; “Giriyas” are their partners; and “Others” are those born male but do not conform to a stereotypical gender definition.
The project was to capture these individuals at their most natural, whether it was striking a Bollywood pose or simply standing still facing the camera. “I attempted to create a space where people could feel comfortable regardless of their class, caste, identity, gender, sexuality, performance,” Singh attests. They may look like simple studio portraits but the series really lends a reality to the issue, reminding people the ongoing fight against 377 is not just a charity event but an attempt to give these people and so many others a chance to live a normal, happy life without the constraints of a biased society