Bangalore: The city of gardens, IT hub of India, air-conditioned city. It has a good reputation, however, ever wondered how the city views the people of the LGBTQ community? What do the people who live in Bangalore think of LGBTQ rights?

We spoke to a few young people asking them if they think that the city is an inclusive society or not.

Bangalore is known to outsiders as a modern city. The city has people from all over India (and the world) come and settle here. Although there have been some incidences in the past, most people seem to think that the city is inclusive and is a great place to live in. Anjana* is a 24-year-old has been living in Bangalore for the last 7 years and she says, “I think that the central city is more accepting. If you go to areas like Brigade Road, MG Road, Indiranagar and Koramangala, those places are relaxed and people can lead a modern lifestyle there. Most of my friends from the LGBTQ community prefer to stay in these areas. Some of the other areas in the outskirts can be intimidating for people of the community.”

“I am so happy that my journey for finding myself was smooth due to the theatre and the queer community in Bangalore.” – Alex Mathew

Alex Mathew, an openly queer man, who moved from Hyderabad to Bangalore told us, “I always found myself in this city. I was able to find more about my talent and sexuality when I was in the city. The openness and Anglican atmosphere make it inclusive. I am so happy that my journey for finding myself was smooth due to the theatre and the queer community in the city.”

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There is a large LGBTQ community in Bangalore and they are very supporting and inclusive to all. LGBTQ community groups are very important in helping people accept and live the lives that are meant to live. There are people who still have a regressive attitude, but things are changing. Shubha Chacko, who has been working with people from the LGBTQ community for almost two decades says,

“There is still a lot of stigma surround them (the LGBTQ community) but things are changing, people are trying to be more accepting and are making efforts to change their mindsets with the changing times.”

However, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Our government for one needs to recognise that people from the LGBTQ community exist (and in large quantities), and also grant them their basic human rights. Lavanya Narayan, an openly queer woman also based in Bangalore says, “There are a lot of aspects to queer rights in the country and these need to be addressed – like being able to change your gender to what you want to change it to (and having more options than just male, female and transgender), being able to enter into a civil partnership with your same-sex partner, allowing people to use whatever bathroom they feel comfortable with; the list goes on.”

“No one can deny the strong presence of India’s LGBTQ population nor the discrimination they face, almost as second class citizens when it comes to marriage, inheritance or land rights.” – Malvika Tewari

Even though Bangalore may be an inclusive community, people of the LGBTQ community still face problems such as renting flats, open discrimination and so much more.

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Malvika Tewari, a 26-year-old who resides in Bangalore puts it quite perfectly, “While the legal battle is a long one, one of the ways we can try to secure equal rights is to recognise homophobia and bigotry and call it out. We are far behind when it comes to equal representation of gender minorities in workplaces and that is something we can consciously work on. When it comes to society and acceptance at large, the first step is to reach out with compassion, educate ourselves and be comfortable with our own sexuality and gender to better understand the fluidity of it.” She adds, “No one can deny the strong presence of India’s LGBTQ population nor the discrimination they face, almost as second-class citizens when it comes to marriage, inheritance or land rights. With small victories such as the provision of ‘other’ as a gender identity on forms, pension policies and the representation of trans individuals in local government bodies, we have proof that we can be a country where intersectionality is acknowledged.”

* – name changed on request

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Read more stories by Nikhita Sanotra