One more reason for the gay community to celebrate Valentine's Day

This year, Archies Gallery recognises alternate sexuality, with a series of cards for the gay and lesbian community.

This comes close on the heels of the Delhi High Court's 2009 ruling decriminalising consensual homosexual sex.

“We've sold around 20 of those in the last few days,” says the clerk at Archies store, Adyar. Tucked away on the lowest shelf, the cards have simple messages: “For my girlfriend from your girlfriend”, and “Oh my, how totully gay”.

“It's a big jump from legal to social acceptance,” says Vikrant, who has been running the website ‘Chennai Dost' since 2008. Chennai Dost organises events and provides support to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Chennai.

“When I moved to Chennai, I expected a conservative outlook. But, most people accept the gay lifestyle as just another social phenomenon.”

However, he admits that Valentine's Day celebrations remain a covert operation. So, private parties are the norm. “The parties are open only to invited guests, and the location is kept secret. There have been homophobic elements who have tried to create trouble at one of our earlier events. So, confidentiality is a priority. The normal lives of our guests shouldn't be disrupted.”

The Valentine's Day event will include a fashion show, dancing, mimes and other cultural activities. “There is more to being gay than having sex,” says Vikrant. “Long-term committed relationships can exist between two men or women.”

Vikrant intends to go shopping with his boyfriend this Valentine's Day, and he applauds the cards as a small but welcome step towards social acceptance.

Last October, the world's first transgender marriage website was founded by transgender activist Kalki Subramaniam. Kalki has since received over 300 congratulatory e-mails and 150 marriage proposals from all over the globe.

“This is a very sensitive issue, so we will have to handle it carefully,” she says. “Change will take time. Thirumangai is a platform for dialogue on the marital and adoption rights of the transgender community. Any sign of acceptance must be encouraged.”

Jitin, a 31-year-old banker living in Nungambakkam, has been out of the closet for the past five years. “The cards are a positive sign. Living in a materialistic society, perhaps it's the ultimate sign of approval when your lifestyle is being commercialised.”

Youhan Darrab Aria, a spokesperson for Archies Gallery, said the cards were a response to popular demand. “After the 377 ruling which clearly legalised the lifestyle, Archies decided to add these cards to its Valentine's Day range. We have a niche market to cater to.”