Young, bold and queer: India’s LGBTQIA+ young generation fighting for their rights
As a kid Naveen used to wear his mom and aunt’s sarees – he was fascinated by the bangles and the bindi on the forehead. At some point tough, his parents forbade him to dress up in girl’s clothes. Naveen, now 25, says that his effeminate nature was the reason why he has always been bullied, humiliated and called names also from his teachers, but despite the difficulties, he pursued his studies and eventually became a teacher – his childhood’s dream.
Naveen belongs to a generation of Indian urban millennials identifying as queer – an umbrella term that embraces the whole LGBTQIA+ (acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, a-sexual) spectrum – that has grown up under a colonial law criminalizing their sexual orientation. A generation that has pushed the walls of traditional and patriarchal Indian society by challenging its heteronormativity and binary structure. Social media and internet have played a great role in creating a safe space (although virtual): a transversal network of individuals sharing similar issues and experiences.
So, we can get to know the testimonies of Prateek, 25, AKA Betta Naan Stop, a gay dancer who performs as a drag queen all over India; Gee, a 32-year-old trans man activist from the southern state of Kerala, who speaks about his journey with incredible strength; Nisha, 26, hails from Malda, a small town in West Bengal and since the age of five has been living in a family of hijras, a term used to identify a community of gender non-conforming people who may include transgender people, non-binary gender and intersex individuals alike; Rudrani, 40, a brilliant exception of a trans woman activist, model and actor, who is the founder and director of Mitr Trust, an organization that works on HIV/AIDS prevention; Chinju, 25, a Dalit and trans rights activist from Kerala, Aijaz, a social worker and LGBT ally and activist from Kashmir; R., a 28-year-old lesbian-identifying Kashmiri girl; and lastly Dhrubo Jyoti, 29, a Dalit and genderqueer journalist writing about gender, caste and sexuality. All people telling their life stories and fights to oppose every form of violence that the patriarchal society forces upon people who challenge socially constructed norms on gender and sexuality.