BENGALURU: Everyone deserves the right to love freely, but unfortunately in a country where public display of affection is frowned upon and queer love is a crime, our LGBTQ millenials may remain constantly threatened and decried for their attempts to find love, especially online.
In an age where a right swipe could at least find you a romantic date, if not love, online dating is definitely a millenial’s tool to an aspiring love life, but how well does it work for the LGBTQ community in India?
Not too well, say the ones we caught up with at a recent Namma Pride 2016 event in the city.
With no laws to protect their sexual identities, social acceptance a mirage and a mounting family pressure to marry the opposite sex, online dating may be the only safe way to meet potential suitors for LGBTQ singles.
But, online dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, PlanetRomeo only seem to be adding to their woes.
“I know you are a whore. Tell me how much you charge for a night,” is how Bhuvi, who identifies herself as a lesbian recalls one conversation with an online date.
“After sharing phone number and pictures online, the girl will tell you that she likes you instantly, but soon you’ll realise that it is a boy posing as girl. When you start ignoring him, he’ll start calling from unknown numbers and throw abuses at you,” says the 29-year-old who works in the travel sector in the city.
Few of her friends have even spotted their pictures being used by fake dating profiles online.
Twenty-seven-year-old Sonu’s friend was blackmailed by an online date. “My friend Abhishek (name changed) once called an online date (Sanjeev) home. After coming over, Sanjeev called his friends to Abhishek’s house without his permission. He then threated Abhishek to pay up or risk being outed to his family,” says Sonu.
Pratik, a 26-year-old IT consultant shares a similar safety concern.
These instances of blackmail go unreported most of the times as the victim does not have a legal case against the harrasser, since homosexuality itself is a punishable offence in the country.
“There are many crooks and homophobes on these dating apps. They chat with innocent homosexuals, meet them and blackmail them for money using their intimate videos. There have been many such cases of extortion in the country faced by our community,” says Pratik.
The assumption that lesbians are open to being props at threesome escapades is another means of annoyance in online dating. “The main struggle I face as a lesbian is that straight, bi-curious and bisexual are not discerning enough to understand that sexual identity is an integral part of oneself and not a passing fade and or an interim phase in one’s life. Secondly, I find it hilarious that queer women are expected to partake in threesome adventures with straight couples without batting an eyelid,” says 36-year-old Lin Thomas.
Most of the people we talked to, said they would prefer speed dating among the LGBTQ community over online dating.
“Applications aren’t safe at all. Speed dating would help in meeting people in person and know the person better,” says Karan Kariappa, 26. He is an entrepreneur and a business developer executive at a private firm in the city “The best thing about speed dating event is that you get to chat with everyone present at the event regardless of their sex, gender, caste and sexual orientation and you really appreciate the person for who she or he is, when you meet them,” says Pratik.
He was at the Amour India speed dating event held as part of the Namma Pride 2016 activities in the city.
“I like speed dating because it is to the point and there is a safe and comfortable environment in which it is conducted. Amour is doing well in being inclusive, while also being sensitive, “ says Sonu.
Be it speed or online dating, finding love is patch of roses for none.
“The struggle becomes more intense for someone who really wants to settle down since there are very less people who like to be in a steady long term relationship these days,” says Pratik.