Gay sexuality arrives in Indian advertising

Romeo, the gay dating app, is now advertising on YouTube in India.

Gay dating apps such as Romeo are coming out and advertising in India on digital media platforms like YouTube. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexual sexuality, making it legitimate for brands to talk about it.

Though many such apps were used in India even before the verdict, not many advertised in the open, since the Indian Penal Code had a provision, Section 377, against gay sexuality.

In 2015, clothing brand Anouk had come out with an ad for Indian media, featuring a lesbian couple. Though the ad went viral, it did not set a trend. Metrolife spoke to people who use dating apps such as Grindr, Tinder and Delta to know how things have changed for the LGBTQ community.

Rohit, who has been on Grindr for three years, says people from the community, very discreet earlier, now feel free to talk.

“Even on the gay dating apps, many never put up their photographs or gave any description of themselves. That’s because people not in the community would fool around there. In fact, there were cops on these apps to keep an eye on what people were doing,” he says.

After the verdict, app users are more confident about putting up their pictures. More new profiles are coming up on Grindr, Rohit says. He has personally noticed 50 new profiles in his circle.

“A new feature on the app allows one to form a group of 30 people. People have started using these groups to promote community events and guide people on medical safety,” he adds.

Priyank, another user of Grindr and Tinder, says the virtual world, earlier in a closet, is now liberated.

“It does feel like a huge weight had been lifted. I have an archive of 47 brands in India that supported the verdict against Section 377. I would urge companies to start hiring people from this community. I want to see diversity and inclusion in their company policy,” Priyank told Metrolife.

Describing advertisements as big influencers, Swapna Pratap Jathan, brand services director, FCB Ulka Advertising, says, “We are definitely looking forward to exploring this area. For us, it is about what content or what brand it is as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. If we can advertise Tinder, why not gay dating apps?”

She says ads must spread awareness about the LGBTQ community. “Even now, there are many in India who have misconceptions about them. Facts need to be told and people need to be educated. New ideas take time to appeal to the masses and ads are one of the best ways to do that,” she adds.

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Gay sexuality arrives in Indian advertising

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