On the 17th of October, many in the country were glued to their screens as the Supreme Court's verdict on the Shakti Vahini case was being live-streamed across various YouTube and News channels. The most awaited ruling for the LGBTQI+ community.
Despite the hopeful start, the decision was disappointing and has left the community with more questions than answers... again. The court's refusal to recognise same-sex unions has created an everlasting void in the hearts of millions.
A void where hope is only a sliver of light. During difficult times like these, one turns to their community for extra support and understanding. We would like to shed light on LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day.
For those unacquainted with the observance, it represents an occasion when we acknowledge the invaluable role played by these centers in our society.
LGBTQ+ centers, often operating in the shadows of mainstream attention, are beacons of inclusivity and acceptance. These vital institutions provide a safe haven for individuals of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Within their walls, they offer a range of resources, from educational materials to counselling services, all while fostering a sense of belonging and community.
Their mission is clear: to break down barriers and champion the cause of equality, creating a world where every individual can live their truth without fear. As we delve into the depths of this cultural phenomenon, we discover stories of resilience, empowerment, and a shared commitment to a more inclusive future.
In recent years, India's LGBTQ+ community has forged a remarkable path toward greater equality and acceptance. It's a journey marked by the resounding belief, echoing the sentiments of Indian Equal Rights Activist Harish Iyer, "Love is a human right. We've come a long way, but there's much more to achieve.".
Noteworthy milestones in this journey include Sushant Divgikar, known as Rani Ko-HE-Nur, portraying a trans woman in Bollywood's recent film Thank You For Coming. Additionally, there has been a notable upswing in participation in pride walks, signifying a collective stride forward as a society.
While we've celebrated legal victories, such as the momentous repeal of Section 377 in 2018, pockets of resistance and prejudice demand transformation.
Regrettably, many LGBTQ+ individuals still grapple with societal non-acceptance and face discrimination in their daily lives. In some heart-wrenching cases, they find themselves ostracised from their own families and homes, left adrift in a world that hasn't yet fully embraced them.
Our editorial team, dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, has diligently curated a list of LGBTQ+ centres in India. These organisations are tirelessly working to advance the rights and well-being of our queer friends, striving for a more inclusive and accepting future. Hope this helps find the comfort and community one strives for.
1. Sappho for Equality
“A society free of gender-sexual discrimination where rights of sexual minorities will be ensured.”
The organisation thrives on this. Sappho for Equality is a Kolkata-based NGO that advocates for the rights of sexually marginalised women and trans men in Eastern India. It prioritises community empowerment and aid, collaborating with civil society and other organisations to bridge the gap between our society's normative and non-normative populations.
2. Humsafar Trust
"Your identity is your pride, not something to hide," declares the Humsafar Trust.
It was founded by the eminent journalist Ashok Row Kavi, media expert Suhail Abbasi, and director Sridhar Rangayan in April 1994. The Humsafar Trust (HST) supports LGBTQ populations in the Mumbai Metro and neighbouring areas.
The Trust began its initiatives by welcoming gay men and lesbian women to its drop-in centre on Fridays for workshops on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ human rights.
3. Gaysi Family
Gaysi Family, founded in 2008, is a media portal and safe haven for LGBTQ+ desis. Initiated by Sakshi Juneja as a blog has now become one of Southeast Asia's largest online platforms for queer folx to voice their opinions and share their stories.
Gaysi Family launched The Gaysi Zine in 2013, a magazine committed to collecting content about what it's like to be gay and desi = Gaysi. Today, the website includes personal tales, fiction, erotica, news about LGBTQ+ issues in India and worldwide, and books and film reviews.
In 2020, the Gaysi Family collaborated with Tinder and created an Instagram account named Museum on Queer Swipe Stories, documenting the beautiful everyday-ness of gay love from throughout India.
4. Nazariya Foundation
Nazariya a Queer Feminist Resource Group founded by a group of Delhi-based queer feminist activists in October 2014. Nazariya is led and operated by queer people. It works to make LGBTQIA+ lives visible, having an emphasis on queer women and trans persons. They believe that "all queer persons have the capability and capacity to demand our rights and speak for ourselves when we have access to resources and equal opportunities in a non-discriminatory environment."
It sensitises the work and culture of organisations and individuals working on issues such as gender-based violence, livelihoods, education, and health from a queer viewpoint through research and reviews, training, and advocacy.
Founded by Sadam Hanjabam Ya_All, is the first United Nations-recognized LGBTI+ Youth-led and focused group situated in India's North East region. Ya_All is working towards an “inclusive youth revolution”. Their three-word motto is “ Educate, Equip, Empower”. Through life skills, advocacy, research, and capacity building on health, education, livelihoods, and general well-being, it educates, equips, and empowers adolescents, youths, and the Queer community.
They provide a safe area through their "Shelter Space'' programme, which is India's first co-working and networking facility owned and maintained by LGBTQ+ individuals.
Ya_All conducts both online and offline activities via social media campaigns, seminars, film screenings, fashion exhibits, sports, art, and literature.