At the stroke of the mid-morning hour, when the world is busy with their lives, the LGBTQ+ community will rise to life and freedom.
And they did.
Section 377 Verdict
Exactly a year ago, the Section 377 verdict was released. The colonial-era sodomy law that criminalized the simple lives of thousands of LGBT people, was finally struck down.
6th September 2018 is a day the LGBT community in India will never forget. The Navtoj Singh Johar vs Union of India case was a huge win, and one year is the perfect time to reflect on its victory.
"I was in the middle of a class when the Section 377 verdict was passed, we were a class of eight and the majority of us were a part of the LGBT community. I got a notification from the news app on my phone," Naina, 20 reminisced.
"I interrupted my teacher and simply told him that Section 377 was finally revoked. He smiled at me while the rest of the class was excited to discuss the whole situation. That class ended in a wholesome discussion about the LGBT community and what the verdict meant for us." she completed.
She explained that the verdict was so out of the blue that she could barely contain her excitement and that she could finally free herself of the unfair criminal tag. "I am a recognized human, like any other in the country, I finally feel like the constitution recognized me and it was like my entire life hadn't been a pointless passing phase."
"The terrible things I have heard from the people around me, all while being protected by the law under Section 377, and now I can go back to them with a stronger front and tell them exactly how wrong they were." Yash, 24 said.
"I haven't been very secretive about my sexuality, I'm openly gay and have been for almost 5 years now, it's been difficult and tiring, to say the least, but after the Section 377 verdict I feel like the constitution identified that the community isn't just random people, they're our people, the people of India, and they deserve the same rights as anyone else."
"For our country to take a constitutional step like this helps me understand that they don't see us as traitors or criminals. It helps me feel a little safer and less opposed to our own country. There's still a million more steps that need to be in place, but one step at a time we're getting there." he finished.
The verdict may not have changed the entire country's outlook on the idea of sexual orientation, but it made the community feel recognized, united and more human.
"The first pride parade after the Section 377 verdict was the most liberating and joyous one I think I've ever seen. Thousands of people came together, feeling united and heard. That pride parade was about people feeling the reality of freedom, of acceptance and of true belonging. It wasn't about asking for freedom, it was about realizing we finally had it." Alex, 20 said.
"I'm gayer than ever." Maithili, 22 said, laughing at her own words, "I mean it's been such a wonderfully gay year, in the most literal sense. I know my neighbors, family, and colleagues still have their prejudices, but the fact that I can be open about my sexuality and the police won't come knocking at my door is reassuring." she said smiling.
"The mainstream media we see has changed so much over the year, we got a whole commercial film about gay people and their struggles! (Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aissa Laga) Amazon Prime had an openly gay character in their show Made In Heaven, Sacred Games gave us an ominous pansexual, Ganesh Gaitonde. The media had changed so much, it's great to see some representation after all these years." Asmita, 16 told us.
(In Picture: Asmita, 16, Student)
"I have been a gay rights activist for 5 years, and that verdict changed everything. It was everything I fought against for all those years, creating safe spaces, talking at panels, making the community feel heard, I felt like it all paid off. There's a lot more of the fight still left, but when the constitution recognizes you, that's where it gets just a tad bit easier for the rest of us." Ria, 19, said.
Just as Ria told us, the fight for the LGBT community still isn't over, but the verdict changed everything. It changed the identities, realities, and struggles of many LGBT people, and that's what it's all about, freedom and liberty for all.