By Snigdha Bansal
We cannot possibly stress enough how important it is for celebrities and well-known faces to stand up and champion causes that do not find enough representation. While most actors still shy away from talking about LGBTQIA rights and the way the community is treated in India, actor and comedian Ssumier Pasricha comes across as a breath of fresh air, as he talks about feminism and LGBTQIA rights in an exclusive interview with Fifty Shades of Gay.
Through his unabashed support of issues such as women empowerment and LGBTQIA rights, and his popular alter ego Pammi Aunty, Ssumier is working to bring these often neglected issues to the fore.
“I am a feminist because I believe in equal rights for all. Everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. If two people love each other willfully, who are we to decide their fate? Recently, I read an article about women being paid less than the men in the film industry. This is one issue I feel for. If women are in the same position, and equally talented as men, why shouldn’t they be paid as much as them?”, says Ssumier.
When it comes to his views on regressive laws such as Section 377, Ssumier has only one word for them- “abolish”.
“These are laws made years ago that do not hold relevance any longer. The government needs to wake up and abolish them right now, as they affect the degree of freedom in our country” Ssumier essayed the character of the iconic transgender Manabi Bandhopadhyay who was the first trans person to become the principal of a college, in a primetime series.
Talking about trans people, he said,
“They are a misrepresented and mistreated community. Many people confuse transgenders with eunuchs and there are a lot of miscommunication and wrong notions about them. There is also a lot of hypocrisy at play here. While on the one hand people are generally scared of them due to their ambiguous identity, on the other hand they seek their blessings for their newborn children and believe they will curse them if not given alms. Due to lack of jobs, these people have to resort to begging on the streets.”
As a known face in the Indian tele industry, Ssumier has never shied away from talking about LGBTQIA rights or pledging his support to them. He believes it is very important for celebrities to speak up about these issues,
“If known people support issues such as LGBTQIA rights and encourage closeted people to come out, general public will relate to them more and believe that it’s okay to have an alternate sexual or gender identity or to have someone in your family or friends who identifies differently. The stigma against LGBTQIA people can only be removed if more and more well known people talk about it.”
While he believes India has a long way to go in terms of equality, Ssumier remains hopeful about the same.
“India is coming up when it comes to these issues. Both the Olympic medal winners were women, an Indian man won a prestigious pageant as the Mr. World, things are surely looking up!”, he signs off.