As an Indian, queer kid, you have NO IDEA how much that one ad has filled me with hope. Hope that things will get better. Hope that people are changing. Hope that nothing stays the same forever. Hope that someday, I might be able to come out to everyone without having to fear my life.
Countless number of times I have been told by my peers and adults, whenever I bring up LGBTQ+ issues, that I was too young to know this, or that it was "bullshit". All of this really had an impact on me. I was seeing that not everyone likes us, queer people. The first wave of homophobia hit me when my own mother said that, and I quote, "He looks gay right? Don't listen to his music," when I showed her Harry's Vogue cover. That was the moment I understood that it was not like people said it was online. Having an online presence meant that I had conversations about queerness openly. When I tried to talk to my friends about the same topic, they would think I'm 'weird'. When I came out to my friends, one of them, whom I considered myself closest to, said to me "Are you sure you're bisexual? I hope you're not. Because I don't like gays." Being queer in India was illegal in India up till 2017. It was ILLEGAL!
The other day we were in the car, and 'Rainbow Diaries with Mandy and Kabir' came on the Radio. I was smiling so hard when I heard the stories of people, who could come out. The first time, my father didn't notice it, but the second time, he switched the radio channel. He said, and I quote, "Disgusting. How can people be like that!" This was the moment I realized India has a long way to go.
Me and my friends were talking and another friend of ours, whom we're not that close to, came up to us. She was bored and we figured why not? The conversation turned to queer people and how amazing they were. We were talking about Lil Nas X, and that girl goes "I don't think there's a problem with being gay. I just don't like gay people. If you're gay, don't talk to me." Needless to say, that filled me with rage, and fear at the same time.
This ad, while absolutely not appropriate because of the racism and colourism, is very close to my heart. We never, or very less times, get the representation that I feel we deserve. I absolutely don't like the way they said 'if you're fair, nobody can say no to you and that people have to change because you're fair'. It is sickening to my stomach that people still think that fair skin is everything. Fairness isn't anything. Some people still need to learn that.
I'm even scared writing this. Thoughts like "What is my parents find out?", "What if someone from my school finds out?" etc. are haunting me. I'm scared that my Dad will come in and find out that I'm writing about what to him is "Disgusting."
My point here is that India is still a long way off from being an even minor queer inclusive nation. Here, I can't just openly scream out "Hello world! I'm queer!" We still take calculated steps. Even a tiny bit of representation matters! It means India is moving forward!