Life & Style

An app in Tamil to connect the global queer community

Chennai-based fashion choreographer Karun Raman is the face of Balma, an LGBTQIA+ social networking app for South Asians

This is Pride month and Chennai-based fashion choreographer Karun Raman just got a timely surprise. He has been chosen as the South India ambassador for Balma, a social network app for the South Asian LGBTQIA+ community. The app, created by London-based Peter Singh, will launch in July.

“The interesting fact about the app is that it is available in eight languages and includes Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali,” says Karun. Given that Tamil is one of the oldest languages with a rich culture, it deserves to find itself on a global platform, he adds.

Discussing the large community of Tamil-speaking people settled all over the world, Karun says he believes that this app will help bring them closer. “Often there are people who do not get onto social networking sites as they are not confident of interacting in English. This will help them chat in a language they are comfortable in,” says Karun.

Peter Singh, founder of the app

Peter Singh, founder of the app   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Karun’s plan is to connect people from the community in rural areas. “Just like they have TikTok and other similar apps, they can now have Balma. They can also gain awareness about topics such as HIV through the app because it is not just about networking, but also about more knowledge.”

Despite having a large LGBTQIA+ population, Karun says that Tamil Nadu is not given enough attention. He is of the opinion that the community here is shut off from the rest of the world. “Which is why during my fashion shows, I try to use queer elements to make a point that ‘Hey, I am a Chennai guy and I am here to slay’,” he says.

While there is still a month to go for Balma to be available on iOS and Android (Playstore), its Instagram page is up and running. Every Friday, there is an Insta live session called #fabfridays that features inspiring Queer icons from the community all over. Karun was on the show last week talking about the importance of embracing who you are and being there for new entrants to the community.

“Despite people being more open, relaxed and accepting, I don’t know why well-known people from the city are still not opening up. I often get messages from young students who face issues and are sometimes suicidal. It helps to speak up and be there for them and guide them,” says Karun, who is now starting a fashion school named Beautiful Chaos.

“I’ll be teaching grooming and train students for international pageants.”

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 9:32:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/an-app-in-tamil-to-connect-the-global-queer-community/article31787272.ece

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