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‘As an adivasi and queer person, felt that I was never represented’

Once in English class, when a friend of the author suggested using they/them for people whose gender identity was not known, the professor dismissed her by saying it’s too much of a hassle.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2018 07:50 IST
Ruth Chawngthu
Ruth Chawngthu
New Delhi
queer person,adivasi,bisexual
India's top court began reviewing on July 10, 2018 petitions against a colonial-era ban on homosexuality, in the latest chapter of a legal tussle between social and religious conservatives and more liberal-minded Indians. (AFP Photo )

When I moved to Delhi, I hoped I would finally be in the liberal atmosphere that I’ve always dreamed of since I realised I was bisexual, at 13. Back in Mizoram where I’m from, I felt like a big fish in a small bowl but once I stepped into the chaos of Delhi, I realised I had been living in a bubble. In Class 12, I spent my nights googling Delhi queer pride pictures and dreaming of being there someday. But I realised soon that Delhi wasn’t this Utopia.

I joined Kamala Nehru College to study my favourite subject — Political Science. However, I was taken aback by the fact that neither my college nor the university had queer support groups or gay-straight alliances. Queerness was never discussed in depth in college, apart from a few times where a professor talked about political lesbianism in the Feminism course. Once in English class, when a friend suggested using they/them for people whose gender identity we do not know, the professor dismissed her by saying it’s too much of a hassle.

Our teachers were never against LGBTQIA+ rights; they seemed to support it, but they never really openly advocated for it. In class discussions, they would talk about how poignant Section 377 is and the impact it has on queer people but they failed to see that their inability to provide a queer safe space on campus was alienating queer students. In my third year, a straight friend, Appalla Shruti, and I decided to start an LGBT-straight society on campus but our proposal got rejected. The reasoning was that as our proposed society wasn’t a cultural one, it did not come into the ambit of the institution.

It’s difficult for young queer individuals to find our space. The Delhi queer community can be very cliquey — like a cool adults’ club where you only get to join by invite and where the youth, poor, Dalits, and tribals are often left in the margins. I, as an adivasi and as a queer person, felt that I was never represented and perhaps this very alienation is what discourages many queer individuals to join the mobilisation against Section 377. It is also important to note that the people most affected by Section 377 are those who are at the margins. At Nazariya LGBT, a campus youth organisation I co-founded, I realised those who are marginalised face the most prejudice. Thus, if we win this fight, I want the queer movement to go through a revolution where it doesn’t shy away from issues that are intersectional.

The author is the co-founder of Nazariya: A Grassroots LGBT-Straight Alliance

(This story is part of our series called Voices from the Ground, which highlights personal accounts of how a particular issue affects related people.)

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 07:50 IST