“That I don’t hold hands in public unfailingly irks my partner. Last year, on 6th September, when the LGBTQIA+ Indians ‘awoke to life and freedom’ after the Supreme Court struck down Section 377, thus, decriminalising consensual sex between same-sex adults, my phone beeped with a teasing message: ‘Now, will you hold my hand?’.
Holding hands could be an excellent place to start, now that I have the “permission from the highest law of the land. But it’s a difficult psychological jump—partly because I lack the adorable propensity for PDA, but mostly because my queer self is still negotiating the terms of when to fit in and to stand out.
The more conversations I have with my queer female friends about life post-377 India, the more I am convinced that our feelings of ambivalence are interlinked. We have the approval of LGBTQIA+ rights on paper, yet we live in a morally vociferous majoritarian society that still can’t fathom two women getting married, adopting a child, or buying property together.
In the context of clinical counselling and mental health programmes, however, there’s a profound indication that something has changed. There are institutional resources available for the LGBTQIA+ community now that didn’t, quite deliberately, exist earlier. Counsellors, today, are aware and informed to not treat nonheteronormative behaviour as a variation of an illness, but to see it as normal, and help individuals and families to adjust. But these initiatives are limited to India’s urban cities only.
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