Can you talk about what Section 377 is and what impact it had on your life?
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is an act that criminalises homosexuality and was introduced in the year 1861 during the British rule in India, referred to unnatural offences and says that whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal will be punished with imprisonment for life.
The Supreme Court of India, decriminalised this act in September 2018 and allowed gay sex amongst consenting adults.
Whilst the fight is still on as this hasn’t really changed much in the larger context, the journey has started. This has allowed many of us to ‘come out’ and share our voice collectively. Dialogues have started and now even the content in cinema is changing slowly. There are petitions filed for marriage rights for the community. The community is slowly coming out of hiding. Workplaces are beginning to take this seriously and are sensitising their workplaces.
I am now a very vocal influencer in India and am now on the DEI Boards of many corporate organisations. Additionally, I am invited to speak at D&I conferences, events and for inhouse employee engagements.
I definitely feel the winds of change in India post the overturning of section 377.
What inspired you to write ‘Untold Lies?’
The book was in me for years. Although, I knew deep inside that until I was ready to come out the book was not going to come out.
Over the years, I have often reflected on what I had become and why I was this person. My book has 9 short stories and each story then segway’s into poems. Stories that become poems as I say. These stories are all from different times in my life and about how we get labelled, how we live the version of us perceived by others, how our life experiences shape us and how that slowly makes us who we become. In the process we learn, un-learn and then finally re-learn.
How did your ‘Coming Out Stories From India’ series come about and what has the response to that series felt like?
This series has received excellent feedback and response. We interacted with 25 individual from the LGB community. Some very well-known authors, filmmakers, chef, academicians, and some strong influencers. Each is a personal account of their own growing up years and their coming out journeys. It is riveting and powerful to hear such lived experiences.
Since I had no stories or positive representation while growing up, my partner Nicola came up with an idea to curate such conversations . These stories have helped many in the community understand their own confusion, normalise such relationships, give families a better understanding and such conversations have helped parents deal with their children’s sexual orientation in a more functional manner.
This has encouraged us to create more such content. Our future generations need not ever say ‘we did not have any real lived experiences to live our lives’.
What’s next for you?
I am lucky to have this endless, bottomless energy. The more I understand myself, the more I am able to give back to my community.
I want my voice to be heard. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have been through – through no fault of mine. I will keep writing, I will keep talking, I will keep making films, I will keep finding new ways to tell our story and change the narratives.
If after this people continue to spew hate on us and stay homophobic, then it is truly a choice they are making,
And, oh, I am getting married to my beautiful partner of 15 years in the presence of our two wonderful children, who found a mother in us both.
Thank you for allowing me to share my journey.
In the end, all I can say is “closets are for clothes, and not to hide our truth” and “Be the love you want to see in the world’.
You can follow Raga D’Silva‘s blog here and catch her YouTube Series, ‘Coming Out Stories from India’ here.