How Queer Community Becomes Cheap Labour For Big Businesses

By Meghna Mehra

Imagine you are a young queer person in your twenties who has been outed by someone to your family. Now what? If they have accepted you then it’s great. But if they haven’t, what is going on? The answer to this question varies. Sometimes families don’t accept their kids being queer, as far as conservative mindsets are concerned, most of the community members face lack of acceptance at home. Often families disown their queer kids. Most common examples of this behaviour is the way intersex children are treated. They are forced to have surgeries, get disowned by their own families.

Members of LGBTQIA+ community are usually having this fear of abandonment in their minds. A large number of people still prefers to stay in the closet to save themselves from socio-economic discrimination. People prefer to move out from their family homes to live independently as they know that lack of acceptance is still high in India.

image via the economic times

How it affects us differently?

Imagine a queer person from any village that you could think of, probably they will spend their lifetime in the closet. If they could come outside of rural spaces, their class character will play a major role in whether they will get access to queer communities in urban spaces or not.

Apart from class, caste, gender identity, etc as intersections will play a major role in the situation of that member. Usually, our community tries to gain access to education and the working class masses choose skill-based courses or vocational courses to gain economic independence from their families.

Economic independence becomes an issue of survival for many of us. Whether one will be able to have a place to live, food to eat etc depends on the access to money and resources. Social capital also plays a vital role in getting access to economic resources. The job security for queer people is important to survive. Often, people stay in the closet to avoid being fired or abused by their employers. Only a handful of companies prefer to hire queer people, there is no guarantee of a job even after acquiring certain privileges if one is queer as the discrimination runs rampant in society.

For instance, many trans people get fired or switch jobs during their transition period as they face discrimination and scrutiny for being trans.

Image via wikipedia

How heteronormativity paved way to produce cheap labour for capitalism?

If one has job insecurity and wants to escape abuse at home and pay their bills, they will probably do whatever job that they could. It’s simple, vulnerable sections do not have a choice during emergency circumstances. These jobs often underpay them but keep them for a long period of time, this makes them preferable over finding jobs according to one’s qualifications and choices.

It also helps rainbow capitalism. For many companies, hiring 1 or 2 queer candidates is good PR. It helps them increase their profits by showing these underpaid employees as poster child of progressiveness. They become free from any form of accountability and get labelled as “different”, “progressive”. The whole campaign run as if the companies have done a favour to the queer community by hiring them. It is treated as a favour to the community ignoring the labour done by the employee for the company. Many such stories make way in mainstream media but the issues remain ignored- why hiring a queer candidate is a heroic act? Why can’t everyone hire them?

Nobody asks these important questions. Usually, there is a wage gap, lack of healthcare facilities, transition leave, period leave for these employees. It is a clear example of companies putting rainbows during pride month and then ignoring everyone for the rest of the year. Usually, queer employees are underpaid, working overtime, and not getting recognition.