lgbt persons from india:
Aditya Bandopadhyay: After studying law in Kolkata, Aditya set up practice in Delhi, earlier with Lawyers Collective and now independently. He now heads ‘Adhikaar’, an advocacy organization working for equal rights and healthcare for LGBT persons. He is the Asia-Director on the board of International Lesbian and Gay Law Association and sits on the steering committee of other international LGBT and HIV organizations.
Gauri Sawant: From being a young shy boy from a conservative middle-class family to heading an organization of transgenders, Gauri has indeed come a long way. Her leadership qualities were spotted by Ashok Row Kavi when she was working with The Humsafar Trust. She was encouraged to set up her own community based organization Sakhi Char Chowgi, under which she now manages several projects that address both health issues of transgenders and provide livelihood opportunities. Though she is estranged from her own biological family, she has formed a happy family with a partner and a daughter.
Ashok Row Kavi: Born and brought up in Mumbai, he worked as a journalist in various newspapers and magazines for over 18 years. He then started India’s first gay magazine Bombay Dost and later founded The Humsafar Trust, one of the largest male sexual health agencies in India. He was the first person in India to come out openly as a gay man and has been a vocal advocate for gay rights and equal health facilities for gay and transgender persons.
Ruth Vanita: Ruth says she was never confused about her sexuality, she only needed time to discover it. After a few years of studying abroad, returning to India and teaching literature, she became part of one of the earliest informal LGBT intellectual circle in Delhi. The excitement of the underground gay & lesbian movement during the 90s is still fresh in her mind and she feels that while the LGBT movement has made rapid strides in the last few years, there still needs a more positive legal and social framework for same-sex couples to have a lasting happy relationship in India. Her defining book ‘Same-Sex Love in India’ with Saleem Kidwai is one of her many literary outings that form the spine of contemporary Indian same-sex literature. She is happily married to her same-sex partner and has a son.
Parmesh Shahani: He wears his style and sexuality on his sleeve - be it speaking at the high-powered TED conference, signing away his book Gay Bombay, board meeting at his corporate office or a gay party in town. However Parmesh admits to be a late bloomer, becoming comfortable with his sexuality only after meeting Riyad and Roy Wadia and going abroad to study at MIT, Boston. He is now back in India and heading a thinktank called Culture Lab.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi: Laxmi has always loved the limelight. As India’s most visible and controversial Hijra (transgender), she has balanced working for the community at the grassroots as an activist with using her glamorous celebrity image to push the envelope right upto an UN task force meeting. Never afraid to speak her mind, she also is perhaps one of the few Hijras who stays with her biological family and is accepted by them.
Manvendra Singh Gohil: He is the first Indian royalty to ever come out as a gay man. It took him many years of internal struggle, a failed marriage and an inspirational bonding with Ashok Row Kavi, before he veered away from being a lawyer to an activist. He set up Lakshya Trust which is now acknowledged as one of the best CBOs in Gujarat. He was the third Indian to be on Ophrah Winfrey Show and he has even led pride parades in Stockholm.
Geeta Kumana: For Geeta, it has been an eventful ride - from being a windsurfer to being an activist to a businesswoman - but she has glided through it all rather smoothly. Her first brush with the lesbian community was at Stree Sangam, but Geeta soon founded her own organization Aanchal Trust, which was perhaps the first lesbian organization in Mumbai to have an office, hire professional staff, run a counsel & distress helpline and even have a lesbian radio spot on air! Geeta soon became the one and only out visible lesbian in Mumbai.
R. Raj Rao: Raj’s contribution to writings and discussions about Indian queer literature is immense, though he himself hates being branded as a queer writer, because his work expands and grows beyond it. His writings reflect the angst and passion of the Indian middle and lower middle class gay men whose sexuality is often subsumed within the patriarchal traditions. Raj is one of the few out gay Indian professors; he also runs a queer literature study course at the Pune University where he has been teaching for almost two decades.