Life & Style

All for love

Harish Iyer believes love is universal, and this is something he reminds listeners every week on the recently-launched radio show that he hosts. But while the tales of heterosexual love have been shouted from rooftops in every possible medium, Harish and the team at Ishq 104.8 FM shine the spotlight on the stories from the fringes, those of people from the LGBT community.

Harish, a long time equal rights activist, and a member of the community himself, was approached by the radio station to host the programme, titled ‘Gaydio’. “Coming from a radio company, the idea was remarkable, because usually, these things work the other way round, with LGBT people who want to do some advocacy reaching out to the stations.”

Gaydio, which airs between 12 noon and 2 pm on Sunday on Ishq 104.8 FM in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata (listeners in other parts of the country can tune in using supported Internet radio apps) has completed four episodes, the first of which saw Harish speak about his own experiences as a gay man. He says the response, particularly on his social media channels has been heartening, where people came out to him and reached out for support and guidance.

“The idea is to get people acquainted with all sexualities, and speak about the intersectionalities as well,” Harish says, pointing out that there is a lot of nuances to be understood even within the LGBT community.

“LGBT people are people too, and if there is acceptance there is also discrimination,” Harish says, citing examples where gay people have turned out to be misogynist or transphobic. “Sometimes bisexuals are considered cheaters and trans people are said to be given too many rights too soon. So the LGBT community is not holier than thou, and these divisions do exist.”

Other divisions, which have long been a part of Indian society, also affect the community, such as religion and caste. “Sometimes, families may be okay with your orientation but still want you to consider religion and caste when finding a match,” Harish says, recalling an incident when his family had placed a matrimonial ad which indicated a preference for an Iyer, which got him in hot water.

“I think understanding will develop when stories are told, which is all we do on the show. Recently, we had a gay couple, where one was Muslim and the other was Sikh, and they spoke about their love despite being from different faiths.”

Speaking about the legal battles that the community has had to face, he says that laws can always have a ripple effect. “In 2009, people were celebrating on the streets when the High Court verdict came, but in 2013, when the Supreme Court reinstated Article 377, it had the effect of many people coming out in protest, names I hadn’t heard in all my time as an activist. But in smaller towns, people who had been trying to garner support saying they had the support of the law, were slowly pushed back and marginalised, so it was very much like a yo-yo.”

Through the show, Harish hopes to generate more awareness about the community and its issues, without turning it into a lecture. “Back when I came out around 15 years ago, we were a snippet in the newspaper, and often had to use pseudonyms. Since the court verdicts, that has changed, but getting these stories out is the order of the day. All media has not come out of the closet, but sensitisation is happening thanks to the power of stories. The power of us not becoming a cause, but becoming people.”

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2022 7:07:20 am |