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Love By Any Other Name

Freed from Section 377, India’s LGBTQIA+ community is facing the world with head held high

October 12, 2018

The Mumbai-based marketing professionals were engaged right after Section 377 was scrapped. But not so long, they had plans of moving abroad to escape harassment. “We never envisioned a future in India” says Sanyal. “We still hope to go abroad but it is no longer an escape plan”.

Photograph by Apoorva Salkade

A Transqueen India 2018 contestant, Archie was finally accepted by her mother after the SC verdict. Archie, who underwent a sex-change surgery in 2017 to become a woman, is in a live-in relationship with her partner. “She is my daughter and I am proud of her,” says the mother.

Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari

A DU arts student, Bhavya (in blue striped shirt) disclosed her sexual orientation to her father after the SC verdict. “I felt it was the right time to finally tell him. He hugged me but without any expressions.” Bhavya is currently in a “deeply emotional, connected relationship” with a woman (in photograph, left) .

Photograph by Jitender Gupta

Living a dual life as Akshay and Bruna, the creative head of a tattoo studio in Delhi is yet to reveal her identity to her mother. But she has found support from her office senior. “Immediately after the verdict, my manager asked me to come dressed as Bruna from the next day,” says Akshay.

Photograph by Jitender Gupta

A class 12 student, Rishi was in school when he learnt about the verdict. “I dropped on my knees and howled. I ran around the entire school with a freedom I had never felt before. It felt like I had been shut inside a dungeon for a 100 years and suddenly, I was set free in a vast sunlit meadow,” says the young man who realised he is gay when he was 13. He says he had come out four years ago to his parents but always felt closeted until the verdict.

Photograph by Jitender Gupta

An MCom 1st year student, Pratyunj wore heels in public the day the verdict came. “Nobody said anything. Earlier, I’d receive jibes and threats from random people. I felt like a criminal. Once the police caught us triple-riding a motorcycle. From my body language they figured out I was gay. They started taunting me... threatened to frame me in a case,” he says. “Now, we breathe free. My partner, Syed Nihal (in cap), and I now wear what we want, walk where we want, together.”

Photograph by Naeem Ansari

Gaurav worked at Tech Mahindra in Pune and was constantly harassed by a senior officer for his sexual orientation. “I could not raise the issue because she could have come back to me saying that you are an illegal citizen. I had decided that the day homo­sexuality is decriminalised, I’ll write to her,” says Pramanik, who is now on a sabbatical. After the verdict, he wrote about the harassment on Twitter, leading to an outrage, subsequently resulting in her dismissal.

Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee

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