“This is me, no more hiding.”
“Man up, bro! You can’t be crying like school girls.”
“Take your time but don’t do this to me. I can’t change who I am, I have accepted myself and it’s time you do too.”
“Are you okay? Why didn’t you just tell us before?”
“My parents are supportive, took some time for them to accept it but they love me for who I am. Nobody else’s opinion matters.”
Normal statements, aren’t they? Even I thought so, until I became fortunate enough to have forged friendships and struck conversations with people who made me see the other side of the picture. Honestly, we aren’t as inclusive a society as we boast to be, with the queer community facing a constant sense of guilt, fear of judgement and coming out with their identities , self-loathing and denial, targeted violence and harassment.
Founded in January 2014, as the first on-campus LGBTQ support group collective, the Delhi University Queer Collective is a joint body of students and teachers of Delhi University who are fighting for queer rights and freedom. The Supreme Court’s judgement on Section 377 that criminalizes all forms of non-procreative sexual activities among consenting adults provided the backdrop to its founding.
Started on a very small-scale by 4-5 people, Rafiul Alom Rahman treats the DUQC as his baby and is proud of the support that its recruitment drive recently garnered. They hold Queer Pride parades, panel discussions, talks, open mic, slam poetry to bring about this sensitive issue to the public gaze.
For young, confused queer students, it’s a struggle against entrenched patriarchy and heteronormativity, the right to a respectable position free of fear or doubt and the dream of a just, pluralistic and inclusive society. The DUQC attempts to engage with the idea of intersectionalities and how gender is an extremely broad concept that takes within its purview the idea of sexuality as well. It attempts to explore problems faced by the different identity groups as the different gender forums mainly bring to focus the issues of the cisgender community and the homosexual males and have a restrictive working manner.
DUQC is a diverse body with people from different identities as one gender group cannot hijack the struggle; all groups face their own issues and have to fight their own demons. It aims to take to sexual politics and fight against innumerable instances of violence against people labelled as ‘immoral’ and ‘unnatural’; the suppression, denial, violence and terror that the community faces for not conforming to the established stereotypical social and gender norms. The ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’ organised to counter targeted violence against the community was one such successful initiative.
Interestingly, it wishes to make parents and relatives of the LGBTQ individuals a part of the change and address their fears, apprehensions and doubts through expert counselling, open discussions and create a positive environment wherein alternate sexuality and relationships can be affirmatively discussed. Two successful ‘Queer Parents and Relatives Meets’ have been organised and third is underway.
This platform has brought about immense change in the lives of individuals like Aman Sinha, a literature student from Ramjas College. His story of self discovery, coming out and actualization is a strong one. Though an introvert, he is willing to provide an ear to whoever wants to talk.
He reveals his family’s disgust on witnessing him playing with his aunt’s clothes and ‘feminine’ toys. “I was teased and ridiculed from an early age….. My dad slapped me right across my face when he saw me doing it (playing with ‘feminine’ toys), and asked me if I wanted to be gay. I did not even know what that word meant, at that time” he says. Aman in order to save himself from the bullying thought to ‘man himself’. “My friends taught me how to walk like a man and talk like a man but honestly, I did not want to be associated with the brand of masculinity my friends prescribed me. At 14, I fell for my heterosexual classmate and to a great extent, that impossibility of being together and the pain that I gathered from it, helped me break this fantasy world that I had closed myself in” he reveals.
Aman is among the most vocal members 0f the collective presently. He owes much confidence imbibed by his best friend and school teacher. “His reactions were positive, and later on with a school teacher’s help, I accepted myself without being apologetic. She told me that I don’t need to beg anyone for acceptance and be happy with who I am”, he asserts further pointing out the role of university exposure.
He recently came out to his father, but did not meet ends with a good response. “It was better than what I expected” he claims.
“It’s important to realize that you are way bigger and way more important, than any scripture, that forces them to tell you that you are wrong. And your happiness matters the most”, said the activist
Stories like his are inspirational. Though, Pride means different things to different people but what is far more important is that the world is changing and we are at a somewhat more informed place than a few years back.
It’s time we celebrate the love for oneself, for our fellow human beings and take pride in our identity. Let’s join Queer Parades, celebrate the rights of people and leave patriarchy far behind. The bonds that break all shackles will be definitely for keeps; after all, the world is colorful enough to incorporate all colours. DUQC has brought in the winds of change, now it’s our turn!