Queer people have grown more recognized and accepted in India over the past ten years, particularly in major cities. However, social stigma and prejudice within society against the LGBTQIA+ community remain. If you're queer and have no one to talk to, you might often question where you fit in the Indian LGBTQ Space.
It is blatantly wrong of anyone to state that someone's sexual preferences or gender orientations that differ from the norm are flawed or mentally ill. Yet, while the cruel Article 377, which made homosexual sex illegal, was overturned by the Supreme Court on September 6, 2018, queer individuals continue to struggle in India.
Queer People Are Still Struggling
Most queer individuals in India choose to maintain their secrecy out of concern for their families' possible prejudice and perception of homosexuality as a sin. However, rural regions still experience discrimination, where LGBT people frequently experience imposed opposite-sex marriages and exclusion from their families. Therefore, building safe spaces for the LGBTQ community in India is imperative, especially in rural cities.
The LGBTQIA+ community still struggles with family conflict, alienation from society, stigmatization and prejudice, and a great potential for homelessness or being disowned by their families. In addition, they often find themselves with compromised self-identities, facing exclusion in the workplace and the threat of unemployment for their identities.
For young queer individuals, bullying and harassment are expected, leading to mental health challenges and a life of living in denial. Depression and anxiety are a couple of common mental health conditions that affect the queer community. The likelihood of anxiety and depression in LGBTQ youth is 1.75 times higher. According to the TREVOR project survey, the transgender community is even more susceptible because they experience 2.4 times more anxiety and depression.
People in the queer community specifically experience "minority stress." Living in hostile conditions as a minority causes this condition. At schools or other institutions of learning, they experience bullying. They encounter sexual assault quite frequently. According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay individuals are nearly three times as likely to contemplate suicide as heterosexual community members.
In India, violence is a significant public health issue. Throughout one's life, it can impact all kinds of people. Queer individuals who are women, belong to a lower caste, a religious minority, or are from a low-income background are far more susceptible to violence. Violence typically leaves behind both physical and emotional traumas that are irreversible. Due to homophobia, harassment, and violent acts committed against the LGBTQIA+ community, queer individuals are at increased risk of violence.
How You Can Find Your Space In The Indian Queer Landscape
Think about a place where you feel safe for a moment. Do you feel judged or anxious? Are you hiding who you really are? The resources available to us should ideally increase as we have more safe places to spend time. We can be genuine and authentic without holding back when we gather in safe places. The LGBTQ community faces many problems. Here are a few strategies that can help you navigate unfamiliar environments:
Network with other queer people. Reach out to local communities or find some online. Read reviews and ask for opinions from them about places you’d like to visit to understand better if that’s an area that you can feel safe in.
People often experiment with dating sites or online forums, but when you decide to disclose personal information (such as your address) or meet up with someone you’ve met online, always inform a friend or a trusted one. Share your live location with them when you step out, tell them who you’re meeting, and take precautions for your safety.
The internet has opened significant avenues of interaction for everyone. Social media profiles accurately reflect the image that the place wants to project. There are several online communities you can reach out to. There are also various platforms to build anonymous accounts where you can be yourself while protecting yourself from harm.
A safe space is where you can be confident that you'll be treated fairly; this implies that you have the same level of access, freedom, and feeling as everyone else. Now&Me is an online peer support community that accepts you no matter your identity. Share your story, connect with other people, and explore your identity on our platform with no hesitation or fear in your heart. LGBT rights as a community must always be respected. We've got your back.