I always had an entrepreneurial mindset with a philanthropic bent. On 6 September 2018, when the Court ruled that Section 377 was unconstitutional, it seemed like a perfect time to get into this space. The decision also came as an opportunity for me to contribute to the society in my own way.
Wanting companionship, someone to talk to, someone to love and also be loved are the basic necessities of our human existence. This fact does not change with ones sexual orientation.
But to break the taboos, especially how a minority is perceived is a challenge. If you are not a part of the larger herd, then you will always struggle to survive. The so called “normal crowd” will dominate the law and define the meaning for freedom for others.
Being different comes with it’s own challenges and the LGBTQ community knows this very well. Since people do not understand their way of life, it gets very difficult for them to accept their lifestyle. And some do not even want to understand it. Empathy is not a virtue that many have. Love or companionship that does not lead to procreation is a very difficult concept to digest for the majority. They term it as “unnatural way of life” and hence the taboos.
With so many judgements and resistance towards alternative lifestyles, imagine how difficult it is for the LGBTQ community to find comfort anywhere.
This is what inspired us to create think of a platform for the LGBTQ community where they can be who they are. So I started a platform with my partner Sunali Aggarwal in an effort to understand the underlying problems of this community.
In India so far, a very small number has come forward and embraced their orientation. They had the courage to come out to the world and live their truth. But this is a small number indeed. Of approximately 13 crore LGBTQ members in India only 6% have come out.
There is still a large number which is either looking for courage or right time or the right reason. Or they may even decide to stay closeted for the sake of their near and dear ones. If companionship is the reason one would come out , then the very obvious question is, how do you find that person while one is closeted.
I believe we need to build a safe space people to not just find companions but also be able to express themselves without the fear of being harassed by miscreants.
It is totally the discretion of the user to come out to whoever and whenever they want. Maybe you will find a life partner, or a friend or a confidant, but either ways you will be able to be in a space where the person on the other side understands you and lets you be who you are.
Hoping to see a more tolerant and accepting society as we move forward. We all need to be comfortable in who we are.
Aditi is the co founder of As You Are, along with Sunali Aggarwal.