“I am beyond the narrow constraints
I am an everlasting rainbow
I am above the toxic grey oceans
Like a river, I flourish and flow
I am the god and the goddess
The queer that you fear
Existing in colours you don’t know.”
Thanks to the verdict of the Supreme Court of India, the portion that criminalized consensual sexual activities between queer folks has been ruled out for good. This not only empowered the LGBTQ+ community, but also led to awareness and gave many closeted queer people the strength to come out. Though homophobia, transphobia, biphobia were bashed down to the ground (which we stan), our society still has a long journey to cover when it comes down to acceptance.
In Delhi University, there are a large number of queer students who have been accepted and heard due to the growing awareness among the people. Thanks to social media platforms, pride marches and parades and the feminist movement, the youth has taken a stand to highlight major issues of discrimination against people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community as well as bring essential concepts that have been narrowed down to nothingness such as consent, rape culture, toxic masculinity, distinction between gender and sex and such to a larger public. So, in a nutshell, the youth is taking no steps back when it comes to bashing up the patriarchy and its culture of discrimination and stereotyping.
However, our “orthodox” society is blinded by superstitions and prejudice due to which discrimination against the community is still extremely prevalent. Hence, many students develop a fear of being stereotypes and discriminated just because of who they truly are as a human. Nevertheless, one can help the community in many ways by being a true ally. To all the queer folks, we hear you! And to all the allies, there are certain things you can do to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community as well as to spread awareness:
- Acceptance: The most fundamental thing a queer person seeks is acceptance. And that is your first step to help the queer community. Irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation, you are supposed to have an open mind and a suspended ego. Hype them up! Tell them how brave they are and how proud you are of them. Acceptance can do more than people think.
- Gender and sex: Contrary to the conception of gender and sex being the same thing (yes, we straight people are idiots), gender and sex are poles apart. While sex refers to the biological aspects of the human body (the individual’s reproductive organs), gender is a social construct that is assigned to a person on the basis of his/her/their sex, even if that person falls on the spectrum opposite to his/her/their sex. A person eventually develops an internal sense of gender overtime, which might align with his/her/their sex or may belong to a different gender. Terms for gender include man, woman, genderqueer (a person whose gender identity or expression falls outside male/female binary) and agender (a person who does not confine to any gender). People belonging to the gender which matches their sex are called cisgender. Transgender folks are those whose gender identity does not match their physical sex. (However, transgender and cisgender are not genders but rather adjectives).
- Pronouns: Pronouns are taken very seriously in the LGBTQ+ community (more prominently in the Trans community). Transgender men and women identify themselves with the pronouns he/him and she/her respectively. Genderqueer or non-binary folks identify themselves with they/them. Yet, one should ask what pronoun the person identifies with rather than making assumptions and misgender the person. Another important thing to note down is that you should never refer to a transgender person with their dead name (the name they were assigned with when they were born) but instead the name the person chose.
- Heteronormativity: Sorry to accuse your heterosexuality but tea is about to be spilled! Processes through which institutions and people reinforce the notion of heterosexuality being the only true possibility is called heteronormativity. Statements like: “No! I am not gay, I mean I do support them but I am normal you know. I am straight.” Or “I am not homophobic! I have a friend who is lesbian”. Okay, typing this down was excruciating. When you impose such statements, even out of no malice, you are inducing immense amount of hatred towards the community.
- Take a stand: Not everyone will be supportive towards the community and there will be immense backlash coming from a bunch of insecure losers. Always take a stand and prevent any form of abuse, be it emotional, sexual, physical or/and verbal.
- Educate yourself and others: Last but not the least, educate yourself. Learn about the history of the community and about the struggles they have faced through the past years. Learn more about concepts regarding gender and different sexual orientations. Ask your queer friends about their experiences and always motivate your closeted queer friends (although never force them to be open about their sexuality and/or gender identity). Do your research on terms which are appropriate and the ones which are derogatory (so you know never to use them). And as you educate yourself, educate as many people as you can.
These things might seem small but they create a change at a larger level. And to all the queer people out there, we are here for you. Never, for even a second, feel that your voices and struggles are not heard. Just remember that one day, all that there will be is equality, awareness and love. Till then, peace out (with pride)!