The Supreme Court of India recently admitted several new petitions to quash Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the British-era law which criminalises homosexual acts. On May 1, the court issued a notice to the Centre, to respond to these petitions by July this year.
To celebrate and spread awareness, on May 6, a group of 40 teens and tweens organised an event in Connaught Place, using social media and WhatsApp. Besides street theatre performances and pamphlet distribution, at least 10 people used the event to publicly come out to friends for the first time. Some opened up about their sexuality to strangers at the event; while others came out to their parents in the week leading up to Sunday.
The group gathered outside a Metro station entrance and were were first shooed away by a Delhi Police beat officer, who chastised them for not having taken permission for the event. Undaunted, they marched to the inner circle of Connaught Place, singing—among other songs—Honey Singh’s Desi Kalakaar.
VICE spoke to the event’s coordinator Rishi Raj Vyas, queer teens and supporters who came out this weekend.
Rishi Raj Vyas, 16, student
“This was just a random idea. I thought carrying flyers would be a good way to reach out to people. The atrocities that queer people have faced have inspired us to stand for our own rights. I faced bullying by schoolmates. I’ve been molested thrice. It was very difficult to cope up. When I told my parents about it they blamed me because they didn’t have the awareness.”
Shiv Dutta, 20, college student
“I saw Rishi’s Instagram post and told him I’m gay and closeted. I got to know him and started posting in the WhatsApp group, ‘I’m Gay I’m Gay I’m Gay.’ They were like we know that. So today too I yelled, ‘I’m Gay!’ I yelled it, I screamed it, I did everything. It felt so good.”
Khushboo, 17, student
“People are coming out here today because we won’t judge them. It’s high time for the government and the courts to take a decision over the hard work of the LGBTQ+ communities.”
Prashant Chauhan, 16, student
“I wanted to represent my community. I wasn’t scared at all. I performed a belly-dance, as it’s a taboo for men. I came to break gender stereotypes.”
Coco Onku, 16, student
“I hate Section 377. It’s the Indian government’s way of saying that we’re going to implement something that British assholes did back in 1860.”
Ruth Chawngthu, 21, student
“Coming out helps a lot with the visibility, as people think that LGBTQ+ people do not exist—it lets them know that we’re here. But I don’t think you should come out if you’re not ready to come out. Don’t get bullied into it if you’re not ready. Take care of your mental health, be kind to yourself.”
Nitish Anand, 19, student
“I don’t fucking care if I will trip over my heels, I don’t want anyone’s judgement. I’m gay and I’m proud. My family knows, my father is cool with it. Just remember, that if you are lost, you can always be found. It’s never too late to turn your life around.”
Tanvi Marwah, 17, student
“If you are questioning your sexuality, do give it a thought. It’s perfectly fine to explore your sexuality. So many of us are struggling with it. You just hold on. We’re in this together.”