GURUGRAM/DELHI: There is something different about February 14 this year, for it marks the first Valentine’s Day after the Supreme Court declared Section 377 unconstitutional, and lifted the colonial-era ban on same-sex relationships.
But while the law has changed, and Bollywood tries to set love free in ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ (which boldly pushes the envelope with its lesbian protagonist), social media continues to be full of hateful tweets and homophobic posts.
However, Gurugram-based digital agency Korra is spreading the love with Loveisintheair, an intrepid campaign that seeks to replace every hateful tweet/post with a loving one.
Each click on a hate post, on www.loveisintheair.in, turns into a message of love. In turn, the symbolic release of a love balloon by influencers, and the agency’s employees helps dispel the atmosphere of negativity and hatred. “We wanted to do something light yet powerful on this day. To really make a change — that, in fact, hate can just turn into love by the simplest of acts. After all, it’s the day to fill the world with only love,” Gaurav Nabh, Korra’s CEO, told TOI.
On the weekend before Valentine’s Day, the LGBTQ community celebrated ‘Gaylentine’s Day’ at a South Delhi café. Here, a flight of chessboard stairs led to a room bursting with revelry, in which mingled more than 100 singles — non-binary, poly, hetero, homo, trans and straight folks, among others. The walls were decorated with queer characters from DC and Marvel comics, which shared space with upcoming Indian illustrators whose artwork displayed desi wit and familiarity —‘My Chacha is gay’, read one of them. Matchmaking games, gender-neutral washrooms and a queer-themed menu further enhanced the evening’s vibe.
Divya Dureja, curator and host of Gaylentine’s, explains the thought that went into the celebration.
“A staggering number of LGBTQ-identifying individuals go through loneliness and clinical depression. It stems from a lack of inclusivity in society, and lack of access to spaces where one can safely mingle with other members of the queer community,” explained this performance poet.
By creating a space welcoming to all patrons, whatever their sexuality, Dureja was advocating the concept of Heterotopia, as elaborated by philosopher Michel Foucault. “It’s the opposite of utopia, wherein we can be ourselves, unregulated – as opposed to the perfect world.”
Indeed, as social media and dating apps seek to erase the boundaries that separate race, gender and sexuality, many have opened their doors to the LGBTQ community. Like Bhopen Chinghtham and Pooja Moirangthem, husband-wife owners of ‘What A Comic Show’ (the Gaylentine’s venue), and regular hosts of ‘What A Pride Night’.
“We have a lot of friends from the community who feel it’s a safe place. And our bouncers, photographers and staff are all sensitised – it feels like a house party here!” says Pooja.
In their own ways, Korra, Dureja and ‘What A Comic Show’ are making space for a society that’s more inclusive and accommodating.