It's not very common to see LGBTQ individuals or couples living together in your neighbourhood. Considering that it may just be because they haven't come out yet, or you live in an area where LGBT individuals are not welcome. But, one important factor we forget to recollect is that the lack of LGBTQ people is actually linked to a larger cause.
House hunting in itself isn't an easy task for anyone, but for LGBTQ individuals there is a high chance that they don't get homes because of prejudice and discrimination. The fact that you don't see a lot of LGBT couples living around you is not because they don't exist, but because they aren't given the opportunity to buy or rent houses.
To understand their problems we spoke to some people of the community to find out their house-hunting experiences.
How Have Your House Hunting Experiences Been?
"Me and my girlfriend have been dating for over a year now, and we have been looking for a house to rent for 6 months. We live in Mumbai but we're not from here, we currently live in 2 different PG's but we want to move in together. We started house hunting in Andheri in mid-2019, but we haven't got a house yet. We "look" very "gay" and it's kinda obvious we're together, most homeowners and brokers have always asked us "aap behene ho kya?" (are you sisters?) and when we say no we get a look of disappointment. The question that follows is - "aap gay way nahi ho na?" (you're not gay, are you?) We have learnt to make excuses now, but initially, it felt wrong to lie. But because of our appearances, we still haven't got a house on rent." Shruti, 27, Marketing.
"Me and my boyfriend have consistently lied about our relationship to our brokers, but every time they have a "doubt" that we're in a relationship. So they keep asking us if we are and our consistent answers have been "No, but why does that matter?" and they reply with "No, we don't want the tenants to be homosexual because it'll pollute the environment of the house and the apartment complex will have a lot of issues." It feels so demeaning to hear it and we have gone home and cried once because we felt so outcasted. House hunting was a huge task but we finally got a house, and no one knows we're dating but it still hurts to hide this part of our identity." Vishal, 24, Artist.
"There's always trouble with our neighbours now that they know me and my roommate are dating. Finding a house was difficult considering me and my girlfriend are very open about our identities. Once our neighbours found out, we get dirty looks, whispers and they refuse to help us out any time we need help. The only person who is really nice is the watchman - he keeps us going. He told us - "Everyone talks about you both, but it doesn't matter, if you need any help I will try my best to help. I don't care about your identity" It was the sweetest thing." Trisha, 28, Engineer.
"I hate house hunting. It's full of brokers who are hell-bent on proving that gay=bad. Me and my boyfriend have a flat now but the process was harrowing, the discrimination is unreal and at the time when we were house hunting Section 377 was still intact. So we had no legal options, it felt so helpless and hopeless. But a friend of ours ended up renting her own house to us. It was the easiest thing to do. But the broker process was the worst thing ever." Jai, 24, Child Psychologist.
The Indian LGBTQ community has come a long way, but though the legalities may seem lighter now - equality and respect seem to be a far reach.