Queer Folx Speak: The True Meaning of Independence

If I could have anything that made me feel more independent, it would be making queerness a part of casual discussion. I wish it wasn’t such an enormous deal. People are gay. Everyone knows it.

For Independence Day, we asked members of the LGBTQA+ Community based in India two questions:

  1. Does independence mean more to you after the Section 377 ruling/ gay sex being decriminalised?
  2. If you could have anything in the world that made you feel more independent, what would it be?

Here are the answers we received:

Neeharika, Bisexual, Maharashtra

“Independence is more internal than it is legal. Women in India, despite having the right to vote, study, work and drive, still face discrimination. It’s similar for the LGBTQ+ Community. Unless we actively work towards removing prejudice and homophobia from the minds of Indian people, we will never truly be free, no matter how many legal rights we receive. We are already making immense progress through education, media and other forms of content. I look forward to a truly independent India, in all senses of the word.”

“If I could have anything that made me feel more independent, it would be making queerness a part of casual discussion. I wish it wasn’t such an enormous deal. People are gay. Everyone knows it. But no one wants to talk about it. LGBTQ+ people don’t always want to be seen as activists or fighters, sometimes we just want to be seen as people! That can only happen if we start having more conversations about being here, queer and craving some beer.”

Megha, Bisexual, Karnataka

“I think the first question is difficult, particularly following this general election. The 377 ruling was full of elation but it feels complicated to feel positivity towards state institutions (even though the judiciary is meant to be entirely independent) under this government, when so many other marginalised groups are continuing to suffer (despite ‘equality’) on paper.”

“More personal than political, but I think feeling like my mother was as emotionally independent as she is financially independent would be wonderful and eliminate a whole lot of worries and restrictions that I regularly feel inhibit my independence.”

Urvashi, Non-binary/Pansexual, Maharashtra

“Independence means that your rights are ensured. Which, for us, is still not there. Even after the 377 ruling, LGBTQA+ people are not equal citizens under the purview of law (civil rights). So no, independence means nothing.”

“For now, I would say that marriage rights would make me feel more independent.”

Jay, Pansexual, Gujarat

“It makes me feel like I am from a country that has progressive thoughts and is welcoming to people of all sexualities and genders. I was in Spain when the criminalisation of homosexual sex was revoked and I went to a bar with all my friends and we celebrated how 1.3 billion people will now be able to have consenting partners of their own choice and will not be called criminals for it.”

“It would mean the world to me if the uncles, aunties, bhaiyas and didis supported us and our families; it would be a blessing when a child comes out to the family and the family is not worried about society’s views on the family and the child. Also, they should not be worried about the child’s safety.”

Ashu, Lesbian, Maharashtra

“Independence Day has always meant a lot to me but now it totally does have a new level of pride in my heart. I internet-came out on the day Section 377 was revoked and it was such a freedom for my closeted soul, I had never felt more alive. Hence, this Independence Day, I won’t just celebrate our country’s freedom but mine and the whole LGBTQA+ Community’s too!”

“I really want to be an indie music artist, but I haven’t been even a little bit close to achieving my dream. I wish I could have more passion and confidence in myself just to become a musician as soon as possible! I would love to inspire and bring a change through my music and whatever message I give out to the world.”

Anonymous, Bisexual, West Bengal

“Yes, independence does mean more to me after the partial decriminalisation of Section 377. Unlike most LGBTQA+ Desis in India, I come from a family where I’ve never had to hide the fact that I am bisexual. My mother, step father, grandmother and other relatives are very supportive of me. But yes, having the law on my side makes me feel so much more independent.”

“If there was anything that could make me feel more independent, it would be having LGBTQA+ marriages and relationships recognized. I’m not saying that I’m going to get married anytime soon or anything, but knowing that I have the option and that it’s okay would make me feel so much more independent.”

Anonymous, Bisexual, Maharashtra

“I think independence is more than just the Section 377 ruling. Even after the changes, people cannot be free and open with who they want. The society that currently exists continues to pressure the LGBTQA+ Community. I think independence can come when people start being more accepting, stop hating and stop crimes against the LGBTQA+ Community. India, as a country, sees a lot of ‘lawless’ men, who would stop at nothing to protect what they think is correct and try to change what they think is wrong.”

“I think the day my family would be more accepting would make me truly happy, so I can tell them I’m bisexual. I’m not out to my family because I know I’ll probably be thrown out of the house, kept at home or married off.”

Anonymous, Lesbian, West Bengal

“To an extent. It just is much more satisfying to stare back at creepy people staring on the road, knowing they can’t legally do anything. But then, they know that we can’t do much more legally either.”

“Marriage and adoption rights, for sure.”

Harsheel, Gay, Maharashtra

“Yes, Section 377’s criminalisation repeal gave me free air to breathe and to reconsider my life choices. My life turned around because of that judgement.”

“Parliamentary law should recognize us. At least if they recognize us, the fight and struggle would be easier to handle.”

Rajneesh, Androsexual, Gender Non-Conforming, Delhi

“As someone who didn’t have the right to bodily autonomy, the Independence Day has meant nothing more than a holiday. 6th September is the day I got the right to consent and for this reason, it’s the only Independence Day that I recognize.”

“As for what would make me feel more independent, not being governed by queerphobes seems like a good start. I would also like the right to be in establishments open to the public and not denied service.”

About the author

Saachi Gupta

Saachi Gupta is an LGBTQ+ activist, animal lover and the author of 'With Love, or Something Like That.' She is a strong believer in equality amongst mankind.
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