Presenting 23 year old Lavanya Narayan, journalist at one of India's leading business newspapers in Chennai.
Lavanya identifies as pansexual and gender fluid, having been attracted to both sexes from an early age. In her own words, she prefers "being seen as human, rather than male or female", taking androgyny and gender fluidity as ways of identity.
"I am attracted to people irrespective of what is in their pants. For me, attraction is based upon personality, compatibility, and how they treat me. I have been with men, I have been with women, I have been attracted to people who identify as trans. Some people don’t need to use a label, but I do because for years, I could never put my finger on why I felt this way. Ever since I was young, I found it hard to associate with gender in general. I played with dolls, but I was also the only girl in my 3rd grade class to trade Pokémon cards. I prefer being seen as human, rather than male or female."
With staunchly conservative Tamil Brahmin Hindu fundamentalist parents unaccepting of her sexuality from an early age, Lavanya is no stranger to the victimisation and prejudice experienced by most of India's LGBT youths.
"My friends know about my sexuality, because I make it very clear on the outset that I am LGBT. I am so grateful and lucky to have the most supportive, loving and caring friends, who have not once judged or mocked me for being open and honest about who I am. My parents, however, are a different story. I have a volatile and turbulent relationship with them at best, and I do everything I can to disassociate myself from them and who they are. They are conservative Tamil Brahmin Hindu fundamentalists who are homophobic and think being LGBT is ‘a fad’, ‘weird’, and ‘these people are mentally disturbed’. They are thrilled that Section 377 is upheld by the IPC. I have tried several times in the past to make them understand that their beliefs about the LGBT community are misguided, but they refuse to budge."
As for Section 377, Lavanya is so rightfully straight to the point. "It's an absolute load of bollocks," she exclaims.
"I had the privilege of speaking to novelist and journalist Sandip Roy back in January, and he told me that the correct term for the LGBT community in India experiences is not homophobia, but rather is ‘homoignorance’. I would take that train of thought a step further, and state that what the LGBT community is facing is ‘homodenial’, which can be used interchangeably with the former concept. I think these politicians and lawmakers are under the misguided impression that ignorance or plausible deniability would mean eventual demise (‘if I deny or ignore the existence of anything that is not heterosexual, it will die away on its own’). Riddle me this; Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley talk about every goddamn thing under the sun. Has anyone ever wondered why they haven’t addressed a movement that is making strides in the country?"