5 Times Indian Parents Showed How To Advocate for Rights of Their Children in LGBTQIA Community
From Sushant’s father’s unconditional love to Danish’s parents’ eventual understanding, these stories highlight the inspiring support shown by Indian parents for their children in the LGBTQIA community. They showcase their struggles, journeys, and eventual acceptance.
When celebrated LGBTQIA+ activist Sushant Divgikar (they/them) seemed inclined to spend more time in the shopping aisle filled with Barbie dolls, their parents weren’t perturbed in the least. Instead, they were encouraging.
Coming-out stories are often shrouded in anxiety about family reactions, fear of acceptance by society, and similar concerns. However, heartwarming stories like the one shared by Sushant serve as rays of hope.
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Here we explore five tales of parents who supported their children in their journeys of discovering themselves, while also advocating for LGBT rights.
1. ‘I will be the best father I can’
Sushant is a picture of cheer as they recall their father Pradeep Divgikar’s reaction to being told they were gay. “Coming from a conservative family and to say that I will be the best father I can and let my children be, was perhaps the best gift he could have given us,” says Sushant.
In subsequent conversations, Pradeep reiterated it wasn’t about being ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. His boys were his children and that’s all that mattered. As Sushant adds, “I knew they loved me and would do anything for me, but I must admit even I was in awe of this reaction. It really is all about accepting people and your children just as they are.”
2. ‘They need our acceptance’
When Nilakshi Roy joined ‘Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents’ — a support group for parents whose children belong to the LGBTQ community — it was with some trepidation. Accepting her daughter’s newly revealed sexual orientation was not easy on Nilakshi. However, after spending a few months with the organisation, her perspective underwent a complete transformation.
As she notes, “Being a part of this community has humbled me. Discovering that your child is probably a bi-sexual is something that took a long while to settle in.” Nilakshi goes on to emphasise the importance of the family coming together in such situations and working as a team.
“We prepared ourselves to accept her,” says Nilakshi.
3. ‘My son is not a criminal’
Arnab Nandy’s mother did not understand homosexuality in depth. However, in 2018, following a conversation with her son in which he came out to her, the conservative mother decided to step up. She can now be heard sensitising everyone around her about homosexuality.
As Nandy elaborates, “Sexuality is a part of your identity and not your identity. Everyone takes their own time to accept themselves; thereafter, it’s a journey of self-awareness and owning your personality traits.”
4. ‘It’s okay to ask questions’
Kaushik was well aware of the fact that he was gay at the age of 12 when he found himself attracted to other boys. While he did find solace in chat rooms on the internet, he recounts his biggest blessing to be his parents’ support. In 2012, when he came out to them, he witnessed their compassion firsthand.
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“They were courageous enough to ask me all sorts of personal questions. This kind of openness in their generation, and in India in general, is extremely rare. I was fortunate enough to have it,” he says adding that their support shone through in the years that followed when he got married to his long-time partner Glenn in France.
5. ‘They need our support’
When Danish Sheikh, a queer rights lawyer came out to his parents in 2012, their reaction was something he was dreading. “They reacted with anger and sorrow, and then took me to a psychiatrist who informed us that homosexuality was a mental disorder, possibly the result of a tumour in my hypothalamus, which he could cure with aggressive instant treatment. I stormed out of the doctor’s office and their house. Something broke between us that day.”
However, six years later in 2018, Danish recounts how he received a call from his father during the ongoing fight against Section 377. “He called and, in a shaking voice, asked if I’d like him and my mother to come to the court; if that would help; if I might need their support at this time.”
Danish’s story is a perfect example of how acceptance can be a significant healer.
Edited by Pranita Bhat
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