It’s been only a year since the controversial section 377 ceased to hold consensus in the law of the country but there have been some celebrities in India who had let love find its way even when homosexuality wasn’t deemed to be legal by the law of the land. Because obviously sexual orientation cannot be defined in terms of legality or illegality of the same that the controversial law couldn’t do much to hamper the spirits of these free minded individuals who chose to honor their right to a free and dignified existence rather than wailing in self pity. Even in the face of mass denial and hypocrisy, these Indian celebs dared to open up about being gay and let love win its its own not-so-fair game-
Time Magazine described him as “India’s master of fabric and fantasy” and it isn’t for nothing that Indian designer Rohit Bal has been subjected to such adulation. Bal is one of the most prolific among Indian designers, and has also been one of the earliest who has been openly accepting about his homosexuality.
Bal had been in a relationship with model Lalit Tehlan for three long years, until the duo unexpectedly split in 2011. Rohit had been admitting of his sexual preferences since more that a decade ago, when homosexuality wasn’t even legalised in the country.
Acclaimed screen writer and film maker, Apurva Asrani is an openly gay man who has been in a relationship with musician Siddhant Pillai for over a decade. Even in a society that had made him a victim of standards of patriarchy simply because of his same sex orientation, Asrani stood his ground and wants other homosexuals to come out in the open and live their lives, free of any burden that society seeks to mow down them with.
For someone whose eponymous fashion label made a phenomenal debut at the London Fashion Week, Manish Arora definitely packs a punch as being one of the frontliners among the top 10 fashion designers in India. Even as a teenager, Arora had been accepting of his preference for men and even found support from his family.
Another pioneer in the Indian fashion industry, James Ferreira has also been open about his homosexuality. The designer in fact revealed his sexuality to his parents more than three decades ago and enjoys unwavering support from them.
Acclaimed director Onir is probably the only Indian film maker to have openly accepted being a gay person. A leading activist of LGBTQ rights, the film maker however rues that even when Bollywood has a lot of homosexuals, no one prefers to talks openly about their preferences. Even as a film maker, Onir is credited for bringing about themes of same sex relationships to the fore in mainstream Bollywood through his films.
Suneet Varma is another name from the Indian fashion realm who has openly accepted his homosexuality. Varma is in fact married to Rahul Arora who is 22 years younger to him. Even when homosexuality hadn’t been legal in the time, the couple decided to get married in New York mainly because as a new gen lad, Arora was very positive about being married to a person of the same sex even when his designer boyfriend had no idea that could indeed be possible.
If the title of his famous book ‘A Suitable Boy’ is any indication, acclaimed Indian novelist Vikram Seth is also very much a man drawn towards people of the same sex as him. A bisexual, Seth came put about his sexuality to his mother in his late twenties but in the public domain, he restricted this expression mostly in his literary exploits.
Sridhar Rangyan is another Indian film maker who crusades for the cause of homosexuality. Himself a gay man, Rangayan seeks to represent the largely closeted gay community in India through his works and activism.
India’s first openly gay athlete, Dutee Chand recently admitted to being in a same sex relationship following which she was subjected to ridicule and criticism from a certain section of the society. However, the sprinter shut off all trolls soon after as she became the first Indian ever to win gold in the 100m race at the World Universiade in Napoli just a couple of weeks later.
With films like Margarita With A Straw and Amu in her kitty, veteran film maker Shonali Bose is one of those acclaimed Indian who have their work to speak for themselves. Bisexual herself, Bose has been vocal about her sexual orientation and seeks to bring out life stories of others like her through her films.
Maybe it is the all encompassing aspect of the fashion industry or because people who are creative are also less concerned about what the world will opine of their personal preferences, but many fashion designers in India have been open about their same sex preferences. And one such ace fashion designer who identifies as homosexual is Wendell Rodricks.
Married to Jerome Marrel since 2002, Rodricks’ story is one that is particularly inspiring. Even in the India of the pre section 377 abolishment era, Rodricks did not shy away about his sexuality and found tremendous support from family in those times when homosexuality could not have been more hushed up.
Crowned Mr. Gay India 2014 and also the country representative at the 2014 Mr Gay World contest, Sushant Divgikar is an Indian model and host. Interestingly, Divgikar’s fight for the rights and existence of sexual minorities stems back to 2013 when the now abolished Section 377 was re established in the country.
India’s first openly gay comic Vasu Primlani is another celebrity who has no qualm in admitting her preference for people of the same sex. Tackling issues like that of rape, human rights, and the environment occupy centerstage in the 2015 Nari Shakti Awardee’s comic pursuits.