Bangalore: Although India has criminalized same sex relations, the old fashioned radio in tech savvy India is emerging as the choicest media of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in India, reports ipsnews.net
It is Wednesday afternoon in Bangalore, known as India’s tech city for being the hub of information technology companies and Vaishalli Chandra, channel manager of QRadio which is dedicated to the LGBT community, is in conversation with Ankit Bhuptani, a 21-year-old gay youth from Mumbai.
“I was 15 when I realized I was gay and it made me feel as though I had sinned against god. I began to condemn myself,” Ankit reveals. “But then I came to accept myself the way I am.”
Chandra, a straight person, says, “Yes, social acceptance is important and it begins with you accepting yourself. So let’s talk about that.”
Thanks to opportunities to network, unburden themselves and celebrate, radio is clearly emerging as the choicest media of the LGBT community in India.
Priyanka Divakar hosts a show for the queer community titled “Yari Ivaru (who is this person?)”, aired on Radio Active, a Bangalore-based community radio station that started in 2010 that broadcasts on an FM channel, rather than through the Internet.
Born a man, Divakar underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a woman after suffering for years what most LGBT people face in India: lack of civil rights, social ostracism, stigma and mockery. Gay sex is a criminal offence in the country, reports ipsnews.net.
Both Chandra and Divakar firmly believe that their shows increase freedom of expression by giving LGBTs a platform to be themselves. Guests here talk about their identity struggle, the reaction of their families to their sexuality and the opposition of society.
“Most of the time, parents themselves disown children after coming to know of their sexual identity. This drives them straight into a world of economic, social and emotional insecurity and it results in their joining the sex industry, begging or other criminal activities,” Divakar says.
But not all stories are sad, reports ipsnews.net.
Shaleen Rakesh of New Delhi recalls on radio the day he told his mother he was gay. “She said that she wanted to hug me; it made her very happy to see me coming out of the closet about my sexuality.”
Besides sharing stories of the past, the community also uses radio shows to discuss the future, especially plans to end discrimination against the community.
Radio, says transgender activist Kalki Subramanium of Chennai, clicks with the young working class, to which most of the LGBT people belong.
“The radio these days [is] a new avatar; you can see young people listening to the radio when they are travelling to work or when they are at work. It is easy to access and doesn’t cost a lot,” says Subramanium.