The right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness is a universally granted right. However, a large number of people from the LGBTQ community are still denied of these basic rights by being stigmatized and ostracized from the society. Lack of adequate sex education and misinformation about the community are seen to be the main reasons behind it.
In what can be seen as a clear result of good education and support from family, 31 year-old Varun Singhal is making people question everything they ever thought about the LGBTQ community. He believes that sexuality is fluid and identifies as gay. Having worked with the Australian federal government for eight years and travelled the world, he got his certification as a yoga teacher in Nepal last year and is all set to open the first LGBTQ yoga retreat in the heart of North Goa.
“Closets are for clothes”, quips Varun when asked if his family and friends know about his sexuality. He credits his nonchalance and comfort with his sexuality to the unconditional support and acceptance from his family and friends.
"Having being accepted by my family, I am fearless. I have always carried the attitude that I am fabulous and the problem is not me. If you have an issue you deal with it. My sexuality should not define who I am."
However, the support from his parents didn’t come without having to educate them about it. His mother even suggested he see a doctor for his “condition”. He even experienced suicidal tendencies due to lack of support from his family and the society. His brother claims he always knew about Varun’s sexuality, making the process easier for him.
"For me personally it came down to educating and making people around me aware. Law certainly can change the perception and attitude of the whole country as seen in the case of Malta. Law and media are the strongest forces here. Once that is with the people, they will be unafraid."
The biggest deterrent to homosexuality in India, however, still remains Sections 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which Varun brands “a disgrace and completely un-Indian”.
"Homosexuality is known to have existed and thrived in India for all of history. In a time where the rest of Asia is looking at India as an upcoming world leader, we must lead by example and continue on our path to holistic progress, not regress from it."
Homosexuality is not abnormal, and it is definitely not something you need to hide or get rid of, as is proudly championed by Varun:
"Every LGBTQ person fears ostracisation and abandonment which stops them from saying who they are and living a life of lie. We all feel suicidal too. With little support I was able to fight it and flourish and come to be proud of myself in totality. Nothing is easy. I am still the only out and accepted gay guy in Chandigarh and my friends find that an inspiration. I find my strength in people and I will fight it until I have no strength left in me."