2018 was a historic year for the Queer community in India. After years of struggle and deliberations, the Supreme Court read down section 377, which criminalised homosexuality, to the elation of a community that has strived for equality. From questions on marital rights to casual homophobia/transphobia, we have miles to go before we call ourselves a nation of equals. Nonetheless, today, there are several organisations and initiatives that are putting their pedal on the metal to ensure representation of queer folks.
A Raipur-based LGBTQIA+ initiative, Queergarh is run by youth who aim to make the state, and India, an inclusive place. From organising public workshops that discuss gender and queer awareness, Queergarh was also instrumental in organising Chhattisgarh’s first pride march three years ago. They recently went out to Marine Drive in Raipur to spread awareness about IDAHOBIT 2022 which stands for International day Against Homophobia Biphobia Transphobia.
Based in Ahmedabad, this collective is a community space for queer (LGBTQIA+) identifying individuals and allies. Founded in June 2016 by Anahita Sarabhai, and Shamini Kothari, QueerAbad aims to create an environment of inclusion and peace for the queer community in the city. With a vision to celebrate queer politics and identities, the organisation also conducts workshops, readings and events such as Queer Mela, which provides a stage for non-heternormative individuals to express themselves.
Queerythm is a registered community-based organization for the LGBTIQ people, operating out of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. It started as a support group, with regular monthly meetings on first Saturdays at Alliance Francaise Trivandrum. Working towards a society free of discrimination against gender and sexual minorities, Queerythm hopes to create an inclusive and intersectional space for the community, by the way of advocacy and narratives. Their ‘Coming Out Stories’ poster series provided a platform to many to share their stories.
Queer Collective Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Creating a queer collective in a small town is a challenge, one which Ankush Gupta took up with gusto. This collective is an informal group for LGBTQ+ individuals, working towards creating inclusive spaces. Satrangi Samvaad - an open meeting evenings to discuss various issues plaguing the community, is a popular initiative by the collective. They were also a proud community member of Maya Bazaar this year; Maya Bazaar is a pop-up market showcasing LGBT+ businesses, artists and performances in Shimla.
The Queer Muslim Project (TQMP)
South Asia's largest virtual network of Queer, Muslim and allied individuals - The Queer Muslim Project, founded in 2017 by Rafiul Alom Rahman—an alumnus of Delhi University, is a platform for narratives of queer individuals to share their stories. With a focus on amplifying LGBTQIA+ Muslim voices around the world and creating opportunities for self-representation and leadership for underserved artists, creators and activists, this virtual project uses digital advocacy, storytelling and visual arts to create safe and enabling spaces for queer Muslim identities. TQMP also organises various campaigns; one such campaign, ‘Five Films for Freedom Campaign’, screened queer-centric films in 2021.
A brainchild of Sadam Hanjabam, Ya.all is India's first registered queer and youth led and focused organisation based in the North East. Ya-all translates to Revolution in Manipuri, and that is precisely what they aim to do. From organising Queer Games, a flagship event where they used sports and games as a tool for LGBTI awareness and mainstreaming in Manipur and Northeast India, to ‘Meitram’, which is the first co-working and networking space owmed and run by queer individuals in India — Ya.all is strengthening the peer support system of young people and LGBTI community to enable them to disseminate information, access services and voice for their rights.