I Want Out

20

Content Warning: Slur usage

Even before I had started writing this article, I made a mental note of a few things.

  1. Write the article on Google Docs

Write the article on Google Docs only so that I can share it with my editor, without having to download it on my laptop.

Why do I need to do this?

My personal laptop is broken. I have been using a laptop my dad borrowed from his place of work. I cannot risk downloading this article on this device for fear of someone, at my dad’s workplace no less, reading it and outing me without my consent or information. Even if I delete a copy from every place possible, the paranoia of someone discovering this will never leave me.

2. Prune my social media follower list before I share it on any platform

As someone who is not out about his sexuality to everyone, I have to be extremely careful about the platforms I use to voice my opinion. Every time I post or write something that even remotely hints at my sexuality, I perform what has now become a tradition. I go through my followers and hide my story each time I post something about my rights. Go figure.

This experience isn’t unique to me. Queerfolx reading this will identify with the layers of self-censure and walls we put up to hide something as natural as our sexuality. Everyone should have the freedom to express themselves as they are, yet this freedom has been systematically snatched from us. All institutions, be it religion, government or judiciary, have systematically oppressed the queer community for centuries across the globe.

Our country, where politicians often beat the trumpet of being diverse and accepting of all, is where my sexuality was illegal until three years ago. Even now, after the repeal of Section 377, I am a second-class citizen of this country who does not enjoy the same freedoms and rights as his heterosexual counterparts.

Ever since the right-wing government has been at the helm of this country, it has pushed the Hindutva agenda to suppress minorities like ours. The government has proven it is an enemy of the queer community and seeks for its erasure. This government is actively passing laws (Trans Bill 2019) and making policy decisions (Centre’s reply to Delhi HC about same-sex marriage) to limit the community’s freedom. It is also denying queer folk entry into spaces dominated by Upper Caste, Upper Class, Heterosexual men- as we saw when the openly gay lawyer Saurabh Kirpal’s elevation as a Permanent Judge to Delhi High Court was deferred for the fourth time.

There is a concerted effort from the highest establishments in the country to limit the rights of Queerfolx and exclude them from all public spaces. When such an oppressive message is preached from the top, it trickles down the vale to spread hate against the community. It marginalizes us even in our own homes, where we are forced to live elaborate lies.

The pandemic has snatched a lot of safe spaces from queerfolx. Some have been forced back to the toxic spaces they once fled; others, who still wish to leave toxic spaces, have no hope in sight. Worse still, for a lot of us, the pandemic meant that we had to be on guard 24/7, lest we accidentally slip out of character.

I would also like to check my privilege as I write this. While I am not out to my family, I still enjoy the privileges of coming from an Upper-Caste, Upper-Class family. I still can virtually access safe spaces where I can be myself. I can still write this article, even after my laptop broke, because my family is in a position to arrange a new one. I have a lot of friends who accept me for who I am.

My heart goes out for the queerfolx from oppressed and backward castes and those who do not have the same social and economic privileges as I do. For them, the pandemic resulted in the loss of all means and media they had to access safe spaces. They are confined to toxic places and do not have the means to avail help.

In this pride month, when we celebrate Stonewall, I hope we can fight just as ferociously the oppression we face at home. I hope it gives me enough strength to pave the way for others to live their truth.

I want out.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are solely of the author. The platform and the publisher do not assume any responsibility or liability whatsoever.

Atharv Unhale
(Batch 2023)