Duologue with Humans of Queer

Yash Sharma is a student from India who is one of people who have taken up the herculean task of making Indians more friendly to all sexualities. You can reach him at @_MASTAAANI for personal or @OFFICIALHUMANSOFQUEER for official on Instagram to learn more about their work.

Thank you so much for being a part of this interview. How do you think your page helps someone to come out to their friends or families?

Our page provides a platform devoid of any judgments and also zero room for trolling. The very ambiance of it is safe and home-like for a person to take the liberty of expressing their thoughts and expressions with an utmost carefree attitude. We basically provide a very amiable stage for everyone from the closeted ones to the ones who acknowledge their identities to even the ones who are still questioning. The overall presentation of their ideas and life experiences is crafted in a warm manner which makes their family and friends take in the facts about their identities more easily. Plus the support and motivation from the fellow users of the page encourages one to embrace themselves the way they are and come out.

What do you think can be done to change the act of kid/teens addressing someone as ‘gay’ to demean them?

I believe that the best time for anyone to absorb real facts and good values is the formative years of their life. Children from their very young age must be taught about the normalcy surrounding the idea of being gay or having any identity one relates to. Our society has this innate problem of tagging people for the way they are or for the lifestyle they choose, like calling effeminate men “Chakka” or “Meetha” and whatnot. Children from their tender age are taught how abnormal and embarrassing it can be to choose a different path when it comes to their gender and sexual identities, which eventually either makes them a bully or a sad closeted being. The steps that I believe can pave way for a safer environment for LGBTQIA+ people include:

1. Making being a part of the community normal for young kids by teaching them the intricacies of all the identities.

2. Including chapters dedicated to people from the community in the school curriculums.

3. Encouraging kids to be a part of pride parades and community groups from a young age

4. Busting the myth that heterosexual is the only normal

5. Avoiding a  homophobic atmosphere at home

How do you handle the ignorant and bullying comments on your pages?

We try our level best to make the page as safe and mindful for the audience as possible, because we won’t want to be a bridge between a person coming out to the world and absolute brutes ready to bully anyone, any day and hence we obviously opt for many measures which include:

1. Deleting comments pertaining to homophobia, transphobia bullying, crass language, swear words or anything which does not agree with the protocols for a safe environment for our audience.

2. Blocking people who pester us with irrelevant messages draped with swear words and very deeply rooted homophobia and transphobia.

3. Reporting all the dummy pages who go by our name but with opposite intentions i.e. to promote cruelty and oppression towards the people belonging to the community.

4. At very rare instances if we feel the person arguing or slinging mud at us can be drifted towards a rational point, we try to teach them about us and why we need to be accepted for the way we are. Some learn, others get blocked.

How far do you think, the events and activities you organize for the people have helped the community become more gender neutral?

We are very active when it comes to organizing lives and webinars to give a part of us and our lives out to the world. Many of these events are aimed at bringing out the non binary or the gender neutral sides of people. If I take the example of this very pride month we had a total of 10 lives and 3 webinars where we encouraged people from various parts of the spectrum to join in. The lives saw many prominent gender neutral people or what we usually like to term as influencers  and even the events open to the general public saw a huge participation from the gender neutral side. We had this live “MEN AND MAKEUP” dedicated to face art and makeup spearheaded by certain gender neutral people from our Humans Of Queer group. With all of this openness and normalcy we tried to bring the non binary part of the community to the table and has, I believe, encouraged many to embrace their identities and even come out. We keep getting messages of acknowledgement and appreciation from people saying how our little, tiny approaches have helped them take the colossal step of coming out to their peers or family.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

How and when did you get inspiration to start a page like this?

I  founded of the community Humans of Queer because of my penchant for working in the direction of inclusivity, representation and awareness .I was Born and brought up in Delhi and have always been irked by the gender binary and the heteronormativity thrust upon the individuals in the society. Despite the initial denial by my mother, when I came out to her, she has been a constant source of motivation for me. It was her encouragement that made me start the page, to provide a safe space to the members of LGBTQIA+ community, a platform devoid of any prejudices.

Three words I think would define me briefly are perseverant, enthusiastic and dedicated.

I, as a human, am contributing my share to make this world a safer, more accepting and more aware space not just for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the highly overlooked topics such as mental health issues.

After the recent decision by the court regarding same sex marriage, how have the people associated with your page or in general reacted to this news?

August 6, 2018 is a day I suppose which has everyone from the community on cloud nine. I personally was exhilarated to the core knowing that I no more won’t be termed as a criminal for choosing my way of living, my partner and most importantly my identity. We could flow the pride flag with utmost confidence and zero fear. That very year saw many, many people coming out of their closets which still sees the same pace and frequency till this date. With an increase in people accepting their identities we see a lot of people, literally a plethora of them ready to talk about their experiences and letting the world know who they are and how elegantly their brains are wired. So the judgment did see a surge in people coming out and also gave a newfound confidence to all the society- defined “abnormal” ones. We still await a decision normalizing same sex marriage and highly respect the two advocates Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, for constantly working for that aim. The recent decision to postpone this matter by the court did see many of our followers and me too personally being dejected, but we are hopeful that same sex nuptials will soon see the light of reality.

What do you think the LGBTQ community needs other than the acceptance of society?

With waves of progressive thoughts approaching us every day, we are seeing many people being in acceptance of us. They approach us, hug us, say nice things that make our day, but if you’d ask me, if that’s enough I’ll any day say a stern NO. Some people do it for their selfish needs to promote their business that is rainbow washing under the guise of “WE CARE”. As a person who is a part of the community I can very frankly pin point the voids the society has when it comes to accepting us. Like for example:

1. We rarely see public washrooms dedicated to transgenders or the gender neutral people

2. School curriculums do not discuss or acknowledge our presence

3. There aren’t staunch laws under the legislation of our present government to keep us safe from abuse of any kind

4. Our cases are usually not taken seriously by the law governing bodies in our country

5. Multinational corporate companies apart from changing their logos with rainbow hues do not contribute anything towards uplifting and developing us.

6. Children are made to dress up perforce as per the gender assigned to them at birth, which results in depressed closeted people or even as an extreme case suicides.

The point is words which carry no action with them are nothing but hollow sound and we as a community are least interested in coaxing people to paint their words with action in a violent or dictatorial manner. Our approach is ambitious yet very, very peaceful.

Why do you think the society as a whole reacts the way it does presently towards the community given the country’s historical record of acceptance of the LGBTQ?

The elaborately and elegantly carved walls of Ajanta & Ellora and many more countless temples in our country are the proof to the fact how amicable and acceptable the society was for people belonging in same-sex relationships during ancient times. What changed it then? What made the society change its route towards a more conservative, orthodox and cruel road. Some of the things I think can be attributed for this colossal change are:

1. Imperialism that our country saw which brought in many severely conservative rules pertaining to a particular religion into our country

2. Stringent and conservative British laws which still see their dominance in many of  the sectors pertaining to our country

3. The fact that same sex marriages cannot procreate, being accepted as an abnormality by the society

4. Our existence being a threat to the “sanskaar” as elaborated by some age old, ancient scriptures

5. Not creating a normal air for the people of the community, around small kids, how they are suppressed into accepting their birth identity or are taught the cruel, misleading precepts of homo or trans phobia which makes bullies or the ones who do not accept us.

Unverbalise is ever the more grateful for this interview from Humans of Queer for Pride Month. We hope to continue to bring in more amazing people to our platform to inspire our readers, so don’t forget to subscribe to our site and share the word around.

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