While my brethren get set to celebrate their 72nd glorious year of Independence, India’s LGBTQ+ community is standing tall to celebrate its first year of independence. On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of India finally released this vibrant community from the shackles of a draconian law that deemed us criminals. Our crime? That we chose to love differently.
Never in my growing years did I have had the courage to imagine that a day would come when I could live as I am, with dignity and a with a proper place in society. Though I never hid my truth, I grew up in an atmosphere where being gay was either a subject of ridicule, or was to be feared. It was suffocating to see my friends and my peers share their (heterosexual) love with the world, date openly, get married, share their newborn baby pictures, while people like myself were expected to keep our joys bottled up. We were told to exist in the shadows; without a voice.
But in the one year, since Section 377 was read down, my world, like the worlds of many like me, has changed. The discussion about homosexuality no longer happens in hushed tones, but openly on dinner tables and in living rooms. The media has totally embraced same sex imagery, and LGBTQ couples and individuals are now selling furniture and soap in primetime ad films. Mainstream actors don’t fear playing gay, and corporates woo us to match steps with their international counterparts.
In this overwhelming atmosphere, I got a call from the good people at Humsafar Trust asking me to partake in the shooting of a National Anthem, that would feature many brave individuals from the LGBTQ community. I was to stand shoulder to shoulder with change-makers who had lived their lives openly, with dignity and with courage.
Here’s the Pride-themed National Anthem unveiled ahead of Independence Day:
At the shoot, just standing among stalwarts like Ashok Row Kavi and Anjali Gopalan, who have devoted their lives to the gay rights movement, left me moved and teary. The filming was a beautiful experience, because we all exchanged stories of the years gone by, of closets that were left behind and of a new dawn that awaited us on the eve of the first anniversary of the iconic Supreme Court judgement.
(Apurva Asrani is a National Award winning filmmaker based in Mumbai, India. He is best known for editing the films Satya and Shahid, the webseries Made in Heaven, for directing the Tera Mera Pyar music videos for Sony Music India, and for writing the acclaimed human rights drama Aligarh)