Yash Sharma (23) a student at Delhi School of Social Work, decided to come out as gay to his parents in early 2020. He shares that the plan of revealing his sexual identity to his parents—after recently coming out to his friends—was not well thought out. In a country where heteronormativity remains the status quo, affirming one’s gender identity in the open can be difficult. More so, it tends to be burdensome for many people to divulge similar details to their loved ones.
Evidently, Sharma expected emotional fireworks. “I knew they wouldn't throw me out of the house but I expected some sort of resistance,” he laughs. To Sharma’s surprise, his parents were supportive and accepted his sexuality. This is also a time when the process of learning and unlearning commenced for his parents. “I am glad I came out to them. My life changed after that,” the Rohini resident smiles. It was then that Sharma’s mother prompted him to take some initiative for those who probably don't have a support system like him. After ruminating for a while, Sharma decided to start ‘Official Humans of Queer’, a storytelling platform on Instagram.
Documenting love and resilience
The ‘Official Humans of Queer’ is a platform through which Sharma seeks to highlight life experiences of people who are in the queer spectrum. On scrolling this page, you will find accounts of individuals talking about their coming-out experiences, queer couples elaborating their love stories and how they convinced their families about each others as well as messages and quotes from parents of queer individuals who prompt others to accept LGBTQIA+ members around them.
The core idea is to create a space to feature stories with takeaway messages that can help others. “It is all about representation. We have very few people who are openly out [about their identity]. With ‘Official Humans of Queer’, we don’t have specific criteria when it comes to stories. There is definitely a different target group for different types of stories but any story can resonate with anyone; you never know,” shares Sharma.
Hoping for a bigger change
Giving the public access to individual accounts and stories from the queer community plays an important role in inspiring people and allows for collective voices to be heard loud and clear. ‘Official Humans of Queer’ has also become a platform that takes forward concerns and demands of the community to the authorities. "When deliberations were going on around scrapping Section 377, many people would say: ‘If you say there are a lot of queer people in the country, where are they?’. With our page, we want to tell them that these are the people and they exist across the country."
In the two years of launching ‘Official Humans of Queer’, Sharma and his team have chronicled and shared more than 400 stories through their platform. The former mentions that a number of people reach out to the platform on a regular basis to share their stories, and also recount the difference the page has made in their lives. “When we had started, we expected a lot of stories about trauma. However, of all the stories we have received, about 80 per cent of them have been about getting accepted and are really positive, which in turn help others," he concludes.