"Boys like you don't deserve to get a human life, you're such a waste and a cuss to our family" these were the words of a mother of a 17 years old trans woman, living in the rural hilly region of northern India. She is now starting an  internship in one the MNCs from delhi after escaping her hometown as the situation after her coming out to her mother escalated into something as ugly as her father sending her to the quacks and calling panchayat for dealing with the  "problems" like her. 

"I was 14 when I realised I was attracted to boys. I was initially confused. I tried not to think about it. But the feeling kept troubling me, so I decided to talk to a friend about it. 

His reaction shocked me. He told me it was disgusting to even think about homosexuality. He started to avoid me and, soon, we barely spoke to each other. For years after that, I never spoke about my sexuality. I was 18 when I moved to  a nearby town to go to college. But things didn't change. I was depressed and the world didn't make sense to me. I always felt guilty but I didn't understand why. I wasn't doing anything bad. I eventually mustered enough courage to tell a teacher, who seemed friendly. But that was a mistake. The teacher called my  parents and they took me back home. My father was furious. He thought it was a disease that could be cured. He took me to quacks and shamans. They gave me all sorts of concoctions - one of them said I should be locked up in a room  for a week. And my father did that. I still live in my village but I have been offered a job in a big city. Hopefully, things will change. I want a partner. I want to love and be loved." says a 28 year old gay man from uttar pradesh 

Belonging to LGBT+ community carry enough of stigma in urban India despite  having the large population of educated people who consider themselves as  liberal. In rural india things escalate quickly as they're comparatively less  educated and are so bound to believing in their myths and superstitions that they  think a person who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community is not normal and  hence, not fit to live within the normal society. They're blindfolded by their age  old values and traditional moral standards. 

In some villages, secret honour killings are planned. So the only way for a  young gay man or lesbian woman to survive is to run away to another place  (often the nearest city), with no money or social support. Even today in many  parts of India (particularly in the conservative states) lesbian women are  subjected to family-sanctioned corrective rapes, which are often perpetrated by  their own family members.

Many experts also believe that coming out as gay man in rural area have many  social ramifications. They believe that on the basis of heteronormative  patriarchial mindset of people from rural area. Villagers perceives that a man,  who's gay is less of a man comparatively less acceptable than a lesbian who's  more of a man now. Such mindsets are pretty lethal in nature. 

Far away from massive parades, community festivals, awareness events,  rainbow dipping streets and logos of corporations, and where queer community  is visibly spoken about and commemorated, resides another queer community  struggling each day, every second just to fit in the daily life of the rural society  with no hopes in there eyes as everything seems to be translucent under the  shade of toxic heteronormativity and the age old values. They are stuck between  the dialogues of "fear god" and "conversion centres". They face physical  harassment/assault and sexual violence, because of who they are. 

"I didn't know anything about section 377 until Thursday. I didn't even know  that being homosexual was criminal. I just knew that in rural Bihar, where I  come from, I would never be allowed to live as a lesbian woman. I am happy with the ruling, but it doesn't help me. I can only hope that it starts a  conversation that reaches rural India" tells Kiran yadav, 30, a lesbian woman,  after SC scrapes the article 377 in september of 2018. 

Queer kids in rural India are hopeless which makes it even more difficult to see  any rays of hope for a progressive and accepting tomorrow. Except few tho; 

Dutee Chand: When India’s fastest sprinter Dutee Chand came out as gay and  introduced her partner to the world as her soulmate, her village disowned her.  Chaka Gopalpur, a village of weavers in Odisha, thought the gold medallist  from their village should not have come out publicly. They felt humiliated. But  in 2020, when the lockdown dried up employment opportunities in her native  village, she came forward to offer help with food and other essential provisions.  She also realised the crisis of menstrual hygiene in the wake of the lockdown  provisions and went to each individual house to deliver sanitary napkins. “I  wasn’t sure if women would be comfortable coming out to take sanitary pad  packets. So, I went to each home,” Dutee said about her relief drive. 

Rafiul alom Rahman: Hailing from Dhubri in Assam, he always had to brave  through dual layer of discrimination, for being Muslim and for being queer. He founded the Queer Muslim Project in 2017 to shared first-person accounts of  what it means to be queer and muslim. It aims to “counter queerphobia and muslim hate one story at a time”.

Like Chand and Rahman there are many other folks hailing from the extreme  rural areas of India and not only working for different cause in different sectors  but also encouraging alot of other folks like them to get education, be  financially and emotionally independent, come out and live life with dignity. 

After, few of them, crossing one of the staircase of moving out from the rural  areas after years of discrimination, torture and the feeling of being unsafe as  they constantly hear homophobic and hateful remarks everyday. Now there's going to be a constant race of "fit in" in the queer communities of urban or  suburban areas. The urban queer communities is not as accepting as they  pretend to be. On one hand manny face internalised femmphobia, transphobia  and xenophobia within the community on the other the competition of being  better than each other is always there. Under the shade of being better, the one  who have not seen much of city life or are raised in rural area feel left out and  mocked by the community themselves. 

Though community do feels like home from celebrating the existence of each  other to being there for the fight of basic human rights, they stick together. Accepting family also have flaws. 

Recently, Indian government referring to same-sex marriage as "urban elitist"  concept made headlines. A national body referring to the very basic human  rights to marry the person they love irrespective of gender as "urban elitist"  shows how as a nation, there's a need of sensitisation in general. As sr adv. Ramachandran said in the supreme court during the hearing on  marriage equality under SMA 

"My petitioner Kajal is a Dalit woman from a town in Punjab, her partner  Bhavna is an OBC woman from a town in Haryana. Bhavna works as an  accountant, Kajal works in a bakery. They don't have understanding families.  They had to go to the Delhi High Court for protection from their own families.  Government's assumption that they are the "Urban Elite" is careless and  insensitive. Marriage is not only a gateway to different socio-economic rights but it is a  protection from their own parental families & society." 

It is an undeniable fact that all these things are new for a society with less  knowledge and awareness, but it is obviously not impossible for them to learn.  Some representatives of LGBTQ+ community are trying to rectify this problem  via short street plays, poems, drama and parades. These attempts play a great  role in making people understand that “LGBTQ+ community is not something  that’s from out of the world, it is what it is, sexuality is not a choice it is what  you are born with and what you are”. It is of utmost importance to “Believe.  Support. And Validate.” As we work or radical self-acceptance and self-joy, we must also uplift all other individuals in our community. Strength comes from  connection; let’s just stop making a mould and trying to fit everyone into it.

About Karan

Karan was born in Uttarakhand and raised in Kashmir and around India, as his father is in the army. He's majoring in physical therapy and sort of minoring in philosophy. His works have appeared in the newsletters of NGOs across Delhi. He is really enthusiastic and rebellious about political issues across religion, caste, sexuality, gender, and disabilities across India and actively participates in making the environment equitable. He is tall for no reason and lives in Delhi.

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