Problems that queer individuals face while dating in India

by Medha Das

“It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow. There would be no rainbows without sunshine and rain.”— Roy T. Bennett, (The Light in the Heart). 

via the news minute

Life hurls challenges repeatedly on different occasions and we thoroughly accept those challenges, we fight, we fight hard and we make every effort to win those challenges. But it gets more difficult when we fight for something which is our rudimentary human right [which is conferred right after birth like to make friends of our own accord, to find love, and to build our sexual, romantic, and emotional attraction as per our choices This internet era has made things a lot easier for people. We couldn’t agree more, right? From spreading awareness on different issues to find the perfect partner in crime, different online platforms incessantly pop up in our daily life to facilitate things. 

We often discuss that in this era of digital media, finding friends or partners is not at all a striving work. And especially the dating culture (be it online or offline) and dating spaces are quite popular nowadays around the globe. Even India is keeping the same pace with other countries. Because who doesn’t like to get a partner (in crime, who knows you better than yourself sometimes)? And to have a partner of your choice is rightly a just thing or in a more polished way to find the right partner is a “corrective therapy”. One might not always be successful in finding a proper date because the pursuit of finding a perfect pair is a tough job sometimes but these days we find it a little easier to navigate spaces and find dates for love and romance (online as well as offline).

But is that applicable so easily for all gender fluid people(?)! I say no it’s not yet. For example, if we consider the queer people around us, coming out of the closet causes a great vacuum in their life sometimes (created mostly by the disapproval from family). So, the right partner (or a dating partner) might work as a medication to fill the vacuum in their lives. ‘Sara Ahmed in her “The Promise of Happiness” [2010] writes about how happiness – as it’s currently constructed – is far more available to some than others, often those who can more easily conform to the “norms”. She argues that happiness is a cultural imperative that directs us towards certain life choices and away from others. Happiness is promised to those who are willing to live their lives in the “right” way e.g. marriage, kids, home, career, etc. She suggested that we require “unhappy queers”, “melancholic migrants” to challenge this if we are to reach a more equal society where pleasure isn’t always found at the expense of others or through conformity to problematic power hierarchies. So, let us make ‘the new homonormativity’ a major trend’. [Barker] 

The recognition of queer individuals or the alphabetic soup, as well as gender fluid notions or identities, are now quite popular among Indian youths and it’s expanding like never before. Different digital queer activism has helped and been helping in spreading the awareness and voicing for their rights and the trouble they face ceaselessly. Now let us explore this “love week” or this “love special month” (that is our ‘Fantastic February’] what problems queer people actually face while dating in India. 

Different social networking platforms forming different virtual spaces to bring Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning people (who had been in the closet) out of the closet. If we can talk freely about the man-woman dates (be it online or offline), we should also talk freely about the queer dates and the way individual faces problems in India while dating. Many Indian people can’t even imagine people of same-sex can openly date like the way heterosexuals do in India and this conventional aspect makes the scenario of queer dating a bit unusual here. So, the queer individuals truly struggle to find out their comfortable spaces which is a very limited sort of or rare thing in India. 

Our recent observation confirms the fact that queer dating is more of an “urban phenomenon”. Because people who belong to the nonurban zone or the bottom line of our social hierarchy still face life-death struggles for being “abnormal” as they don’t confirm the social norms or they reject the ‘conventionality’ that society tries to impose upon them. Their coming out is a kind of gender revolution that booted many basic things out of their lives {tbh it’s truly a global problem because by coming out people sometimes play with themselves high-stakes but staying in the closet is also not at all a solution, it is a huge psychological burden to carry out}. But one should also keep this in mind before start dating that one should fully aware of one’s reality and demands, which might make a date perfect and successful, no cap! Now let us rightly jump into the topic that we’re supposed to discuss – the problems faced by the queer individual through different online and offline spaces. 

 First of all, the acceptance (from the people around]. For many people, just thinking about queer dating makes their toes curl; (a phenomenon) which is already a buzzkill and while they make comments on it openly, they don’t mince their words (sadly). The community (queer) is already very small, that goes without saying and that makes it a bit difficult to find new faces for dating. There are also no such queer-friendly offline dating spaces for comfortable, random meetups and romances or PDA, there might be places for quickies (e.g., to catch up for drinks and chats) and private parties that are different but get real folks! Such perfect queer-friendly offline spaces are yet to hit the spot in India and if it is there, it is very very limited in numbers. There are also some online dating apps for queer people but those ain’t free completely so carrying those apps for dating costs u a pretty penny. Racism is also a part of this problem, actually not in India only but it is a global burning issue. There’s also the issue of fake profiles, which causes immense embarrassment because some people make fake profiles to harass queer people for mere fun. These things have made the queer people fed up to the back teeth of being criticized and deprived of the spaces they deserve all the time. Besides that, as I already mentioned to get the right partner is not always easy, the relationships we form through navigating offline and online dating spaces might turn sour sometimes out of many personal reasons but keep the vibe on, keep dating and never let a single reason go without celebrating with your partner in crime’.