For a very long time, it’s been very difficult for Indian people from the LGBTQ tribe.
With more inclusive beliefs and awareness among the people, things have begun to change, though it wasn’t always the case. Braving stigmas and societal norms, some people chose to be themselves in the spotlight, come whatever their way.
Some of the prominent figures from the LGBTQ community in India who preferred standing for themselves by crushing the boundaries are the following:
Considered one of the most significant writers of the modern time, Vikram Seth has been a distinguished face in literary circles for over three decades. He is best remembered for his novel ‘A Suitable Boy.’
He’s the son of Prem Seth and Leila Seth, the first woman Chief Justice of a High Court in India. He studied at some of the best schools in India and went to England for higher studies.
Vikram Seth has written a heartfelt poem titled ‘Through love’s great power’, conveying his agony over the ruling five years ago of criminalizing gay sex. The 61-year-old Padma Shri recipient has been one of the candidly gay personalities in India.
Justice Leila, his mother, had sincerely supported him and had been a strong believer in the gay rights movement. Her objection to Section 377 is well-known.
(Credits: Gauri Sawant)
Gauri Sawant is a transgender activist who was born as Ganesh but happened triumphantly against a population that wasn’t all too forgiving towards transgenders.
From choosing to stand for her individuality to embracing a young girl whose mother had departed, Gauri is an example of someone who decided to live life according to her choices.
Manvendra Singh Gohil
Manvendra Singh Gohil, a true royal committed to the community, has been actively involved in extending awareness towards homosexuality and the indications of AIDS since the day he came out in society, fifteen years ago.
Coming from a very conservative state, Manvendra was rejected by his family for coming out in public.
But that didn’t deter him from setting up his own charity called Lakshya Foundation which serves homosexual men and the transgender community to facilitate safer sexual habits, despite enduring restrictions from the police.
Sonal Giani, a very vocal LGBTQ activist, and an actress is recognized for her pioneering work in highlighting Lesbian and Bisexual women’s problems as well as LGBTQ youth endeavors. She also co-founded in Mumbai one of India’s widest LGBTQ youth works Yaariyan and Umang, a lesbian-bisexual-transgender drive.
Sonal was involved in film projects, and theater productions and represented the Indian LGBTQ community globally, when she was acting as the Advocacy Manager at the Humsafar Trust.
Best known for starring in the documentary-style television series Connected Hum Tum which appeared in 2013, she shared her real-life events and conflicts in the show as an Indian bisexual woman.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi
The eldest one in a family of seven from Uttar Pradesh, Laxmi underwent poor health throughout her childhood. For being effeminate, she was mocked at school. A transgender rights activist, Hindi film actress, and a Bharatanatyam dancer based in Mumbai, Laxmi accepts herself as a part of the hijra community.
Captivated by Bharatanatyam and its costumes, Laxmi took an arts degree at Mumbai’s Mithibai College and a postgraduate degree in Bharatanatyam, with backing from her family. She has also starred in many television shows and three documentary films.
Laxmi became one of the founding members of the Dai Welfare Society in 2002, a group that works for the transgender community, and represented Asia Pacific at the UN in 2008, where she talked about the crisis of sexual minorities in the society.
Smashing all popular notions encircling beauty pageants relating to gender, she began the Indian Super Queen beauty pageant in 2010 and is still going strong.
Ashok Row Kavi
One of the most famous LGBT rights activists in India and a journalist, Kavi is the founder and chairperson of the Humsafar Trust and has been one of the first people to frankly talk about homosexuality and gay liberties in India.
Born in 1947, Kavi had stopped going to an engineering college, unable to deal with the responses to his homosexuality. After this, he enrolled as a Hindu monk in the Ramakrishna Mission and studied theology.
He was fortunately motivated by a senior monk to freely discuss his homosexuality. And he left the hermitage and went on to study at the International School of Journalism, Berlin.
He launched Bombay Dost, India’s first gay magazine in 1990. His organization keeps on mobilizing lawful freedom of homosexuality in India, besides operating many programs for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections in Mumbai and Goa.
When a senior actor in the Malayalam film industry introduced the female protagonist for his new film, things in the history of Indian Cinema inched towards a progressive change.
Five years ago Anjali Ameer, a transsexual actress attained fame for having been selected as a lead in a bilingual film. Prior to being a model, Anjali came from an orthodox Muslim family from Kozhikode that wasn’t very favorable of her individuality.
After running from home and later living with transgender communities in Coimbatore and Bengaluru, Anjali has led difficult days. She went through a sex change surgery at the age of 20. Despite her toil during the early days, she was excited for her first film five years back and has been receiving many offers from the Tamil and Telugu industries.
My Brother…Nikhil, the directorial debut of Onir, was one of the first mainstream Hindi films to portray AIDS and same-sex relationships.
Onir was born as Anirban Dhar in Samchi, Bhutan, and spent a great deal of his childhood impacted by cinema. After getting a scholarship to study film editing in Berlin, he later returned to India and worked as an editor, scriptwriter, art director, and music album producer and director.
I Am… was another film of Onir that found critical acclaim. It’s a collection of short films that examined themes like single motherhood, displacement, child abuse, and same-sex relationships. Apart from earning two National awards, the film also won the I-VIEW 2010s Engendered Award (New York) for Outstanding Contribution.
Onir is one of the few candid gay film directors in Bollywood, to have exhibited to us that nothing is impossible.
Why Is Pride Month Celebrated in June?
Pride Month honors years of crusade for civil rights and the endless quest for equal justice under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, as well as the achievements of the LGBTQ individuals.
The incident that stirred the LGBTQ rights campaign came in June 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village, at the Stonewall Inn.
On June 28, during early morning hours, police raided this famous gathering place for young members of the LGBTQ community – charging the employees for peddling liquor without a license, roughing up many of the clients, and vacating the bar. The crowd outside that saw the bar’s customers being driven into police vans became annoyed.
Earlier witnesses to police harassment of members of the LGBTQ community had survived passively, but this time the mob taunted the police and threw coins and then bottles and trash at them, forcing the police to secure themselves in the bar to anticipate backup. Before long some 400 people were protesting.
Although police forces dispersed the crowd, unrest diminished outside the bar for the next five days, and these Stonewall riots (also dubbed the Stonewall uprising) gave the force that provoked the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.
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