I was 10 years old when I watched the movie ‘Titanic’ for the first time. I tried to convince myself that it was Leo that I had romantically fallen for, but my love for him sank with the ship Titanic. I was in denial for long but a few years later I realized and that it was Kate that I had actually fallen in love with! When I started to realise this, I thought I was going crazy, it was confusing and scary because being queer was unheard of at that age. The school I studied in was a Catholic Institution, it was really homophobic and I didn’t really feel like there was any way out ever. I went online to get more information and saw that there weren’t many LGBTQIA+ pages by Indian teenagers that existed for people like me. So I created one! I wanted to create a safe space for myself and for others LGBTQIA+ individuals in our society right now. I started @lgbtmumbai when I was 17 years old, I was deep inside the closet. I guess coming out wasn’t really a safe option even among friends circles a couple of years ago. So starting LGBT – Mumbai was life altering for me, a couple of friends around me created a safe space for me which enabled me come out and live my life with dignity and pride. I wouldn’t have felt this safe and easy if I didn’t have an understanding best friend that respects me for who I am and believes that I deserve equal rights just as everyone else regardless. My best friend is a good ally!
An individual who is not
personally a part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum but supports and advocates for the LGBTQIA+ rights is an ‘ALLY’. Being LGBTQIA+ is not always something that is supported, especially in a country like ours. People who come out face danger for their lives, they might face abuse/bullying and even risk of undergoing conversion therapy and homelessness. So it becomes extremely important to be a supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights, and to be pro every individuals rights in our Indian society. Being an ally can be challenging at times because you have your best intentions and you don’t want to offend any lgbtqia+ individual, so I’ll share with you a few important steps an individual can take as a responsible ally to be there for your LGBTQIA+ friends/family/individuals.
If you are ever in a situation where you are
questioning someone else’s sexuality, keep
reminding yourself that it’s not for you to
decide, assume or ponder over. Don’t push anyone to come out to you or the
world. I understand you’re coming from a place of curiosity but wait for them to bring it up and talk to you! And when someone comes out to you, let them know that you respect and love them and accept them regardless. Understand that when a LGBTQIA+ individual comes out to you it’s because they trust you and find the space to be safe, so it’s your responsibility to not out them to other people. Don’t invalidate people who identify with different
sexualities/sex/gender that you aren’t aware of. Every individual interprets their identity in their
own way, and no one can invalidate it. We need to explain our friends and family that someone’s sexuality shouldn’t be a topic of discussion or gossip, and never out anyone who is uncomfortable coming out.
Living openly as an LGBTQIA+ individual is not always something that is accepted in our society, so it becomes the responsibility of our allies to create a safe space in our society that is inclusive for all it’s citizens. It’s 2020 and we’re striving to transform our society into a place that includes every single individual existing in it. And isn’t that the ultimate aim of a society? To create a safe space that’s includes all it’s individuals! And every individual gets equal and lawful rights just as everyone else.
Allies need to be more strong than ever now, because it’s them that will progress the LGBTQIA+ movement for equal and lawful rights. Make sure you are publicly supporting
LGBTQIA+ individuals and not just behind
closed doors. Confront all your prejudices and make a compassionate decision of not using word that are homophobic, queerphobic or transphobic.
Let people know you are an ally, and that you
are supportive of LGBTQIA+ individuals, this
creates a feeling of safe space for individuals in the society. Don’t tolerate people cracking homophobic jokes or using slurs, call them out!
It’s an important responsibility of an Ally to know the difference between gender, sex,
sexual orientation and sex (it is one’s own
identity from a wide kinsey spectrum).
There are numerous gender identities
such as transgender, agender, non-binary,
And the most important responsibility of an ally, is make sure that you don’t take up
LGBTQIA+ individuals space/platforms.
Make sure that they are represented in the
media and films correctly and respectfully, showing true equality on the basis of gender and sexuality in all areas of society as well. It’s the first day after ‘INTERNATIONAL PRIDE MONTH’ and I urge everyone to care for each other. Let’s be kinder to each other, be an Ally and start supporting the LGBTQIA+ people around you. Take a stand for every individual’s rights regardless of their gender, sex or sexual orientation. Only then we can hope to reach there one day, soon!!!
Happy PRIDE EVERYONE and yes please donate funds to the queer and trans reliefs near you💜💙💚💛🧡❤️
– I’m Shrushti Mane, a 21 year old individual based out of Bombay. I identify as Queer and my pronouns are She/Her. I am an undergrad student pursuing Architecture and I write and curate @lgbtmumbai on Instagram/other social media platforms.