September 6, 2018 7:53:31 pm
With the Supreme Court legalising same-sex relations between consenting adults, Vinay Kumar of the group Harmless Hugs, where queer people come together for events ranging from picnic to giving hugs to people, says he had been living a courageous life for the last five years. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Do your folks at home know?
My mother didn’t know what was gay or lesbian when I sat down with her to have the talk. I told her, ‘I don’t want to marry. You always force me but I don’t want to break somebody else’s life’. Te whole conversation was in Hindi. She didn’t say anything. We didn’t talk for a few days about this and her behaviour was a little upset. She doesn’t force me for marriage now but, if any relative mentions it, she says, “Pata nahin, kyon nahin karta hain’. She is in denial but she is living in hope that something will happen.
Are you living a double life?
I have been living a courageous life for the last five years, ever since I came out to myself. If anybody gets to know, I don’t have a problem. It is more important to come out to yourself than to others. There are kids, who don’t understand their sexuality, don’t have answers, don’t know themselves. They talk a lot but, under pressure, they will get married. When two of my cousins confronted me, I said, ‘If you have any questions, ask me’. They kept quiet on it but they didn’t discuss it with others in the family. They are cool about it, sometimes, I discuss my issues with them.
How did your queer journey begin?
On an outdated platform called Orkut. We never thought about the legal aspect though 2009 judgment was out. There wasn’t much awareness. We were 23-24 and merely looking for our circle. It was difficult to find queer people and there were two dating sites but I wanted some safe places where queer people could meet up, share their views and just have fun. That’s how Harmless Hugs was started on Facebook. It was a virtual family. Then, we met up at Deer Park, which was the first offline meet of Harmless Hugs and then at India Coffee House and at Delhi’s old gay park (which is history now).
What are the initiatives of Harmless Hugs?
We had placards saying, ‘I am queer, will you hug me?’We went around Connaught Place. The response was very less, initially. People said, ‘This is a disease. Why don’t you go to a psychiatrist? Why don’t you get a cure?’ I must say the youth was quite supportive. They came in front of us and hugged us. We have had Queer Holi, LGBT Flash Mob, and the Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival. Our objective is that we fill up every space, and make room for all kinds of people, from intellectuals to activists.
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