Change in gay law hasn’t helped community: Anirudh

Decriminalising 377 hasn’t really helped better the lives of the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, feels Anirudh, who identifies as “agender”, or someone without gender.

Anirudh feels it will take a long time before society becomes more accommodating and accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community. In an interview with Nina C George, Anirudh shares their views on a host of topics.  

Were you happy when 377 was struck down?

A lot of people were very emotional. The judges have covered a broad spectrum of issues, acknowledging the problems within the community. It was, in fact, a huge vote of confidence in our legal system.

Have things changed post 377 for the LGBT community? 

Yes and no. A lot has changed in the upper-class circles. Many a time, when we talk about queer or LGBTQIA+ issues, we don’t broaden our understanding to the caste and class variations that exist within the community. Post 377,  it has become easier to have conversations about the issues facing the community but the judgement has not impacted the societal structure as a whole much. Workplaces aren’t really accommodating, although the recruiters have understood the judgement. It’s too early to comment about acceptance in public places.

How do you handle discrimination?

Personally, I don’t have many issues because I have read and explored a fair bit, and I talk to people if I have a problem. I have reached a point where if something affects me, I am able to dissociate a little and look at it from an intellectual perspective rather than a personal one. Just by virtue of being born queer, people shouldn’t have to intellectualise their identities. But again, this is one of the only ways of not being affected.

How is the situation in general?

If you go by the news, the violence against trans people has increased after the verdict on Section 377. There is an attitude among people in general that the law may have struck it down, but our community still remain the neglected lot. 

How is the behaviour of the police towards LGBTQIA+ persons?

Some places have it easy, other places have it very hard. Even in a place like Bengaluru, which has some very cooperative cops, there are incidents of harassment. A few months ago, I was stopped by some policemen in Indiranagar. They raised questions about my nail polish and eyeliner, emptied out my bag, and asked me point blank if I was gay.

When did you discover that you were queer?

I grew up very homophobic. I began to understand my preferences and identity only much later in college when I was 15 or 16 years old. At first, it repulsed me for a very long time, but friends in college reassured me that it was nothing to worry about. This started me on the journey of exploring who I am.

Was your family accepting of this?

We haven’t had direct conversations about it. My mother came to know about it when I first put out a post of Facebook, more as a joke at first. She then asked me if I wanted to see a counsellor or if I had to see a doctor. My sisters are very understanding. My family isn’t very hurtful. They didn’t kick me out when they got to know this, which in itself gave me a lot of confidence.   

Why do you dress the way you do? 

One element of identity is gender identity. I identify as “agender”, or someone who is without gender. I don’t want to belong to the social construct of gender, and so I dress the way that I want, ignoring gender connotations and stereotypes. I still remember the first time I wore nail polish was a very empowering moment for me. Eyeliner is another element that is stereotypically associated with the female gender. But I wear it because these are individual elements that are not associated with gender.

What do you do at present?

I work with an organisation called Solidarity Foundation. We work with sexual minorities and sex workers from the non-English speaking working class. We work with communities to help them identify their leaders and claim their rights. We work towards empowering them.

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Change in gay law hasn’t helped community: Anirudh

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