Recently Tinder India released a song with DJ and vocalist Ritviz, which some members of the community called ‘India’s first pride anthem’. The song, Raahi, was meant to celebrate Pride month. Like many other events, Pride month which is globally filled with huge parades and marches worldwide, was locked indoors this year, and the video aimed to capture that. But soon as the song was released, some members of the LGBTQIA+ community called out issues with it. SheThePeople reached out to the community to understand their concerns about the video, which became the talk of social media.
The first of the observations by critics of the song was that Ritviz the singer of the song is a cisgender heterosexual man. Many queer artists felt an LGBTQ singer would have been a more appropriate and honest voice for this campaign. As posted on Twitter by a person from the queer community – “if Ritviz really cared about being an ally to the LGBT community, he would use his and Tinder’s platform to promote queer artists”.
If @RITVIZ really cared about being an ally to the LGBT+ community he would use his and @Tinder_India's platform to promote some Queer artists instead of letting himself take centre stage in this so called anthem. A*b gave him his platform, it's only right that he pay it forward.
— Sherina (@Sherinapoyyail) June 28, 2020
Some queer people have also called the representation of queer people on screen as frivolous and limited to the ‘glamour and glitter’ of the communities.
A Twitter handle called Artwalahoe said, “there was no representation of our struggles we face each & everyday. We don’t live glamorous privileged lives as they showed in the advertisement. I myself as an queer individual can’t relate to that.”
Others had specific feedback for Tinder India suggesting that the community wanted a video like Raahi to show “an honest representation of narratives around dysmorphia, discrimination, insecurity and even joy, that the queer community may authentically feel.” Some members of the community also observed that the video is predominantly cisgender queer people but only has a fleeting appearance of transgender and non-binary people. “Is this because corporates like to capture more palatable forms of queerness, those which don’t go against their colourful ‘love is love’ agendas?” asks one.
Siddhant Talwar, a queer person based in Delhi said, “I don’t think pink-washing will solve anything, or that corporates are for queer movements or will help the queer movement. I just feel if corporates have to spend lakhs of rupees doing something in the name of the community, they rather do something that is beneficial.”
A central issue raised by the queer community is the presence of Nakshatra Bhagwe, who has in the past allegedly humiliated and derogated transgender people. Sources say Tinder India may have stumbled upon his past comments only after the video was out. While people believe there should be space for correction and therefore for Bhagwe’s apology, several others feel “the presence of Nakshatra infringes the safe space” that the song appears to aim for.
What’s important is that brands like Tinder, that claim to do work with queer communities year long, take note of the above backlash they have received after this song went out. Perhaps they could make efforts to move beyond a cisgender-heterosexual lens while creating any content for the community. It is important these pride month campaigns be year round, because well, queer people exist year round and brands must acknowledge that.
We reached out to the individuals in the video and production but they chose not to comment. The reporter also contacted Tinder for a view but didn’t hear back.
Anureet is an intern with SheThePeople