NEW DELHI: Queer platform Gaysi and global dating app Tinder have come together to educate heterosexual - or straight - people on creating a warm environment for their LGBTQ+ peers. According to the two companies, straight people's involvement can have a positive effect in developing an inclusive community and a progressive society. Here's how you too can become part of Team Pride.
This is that time in your life when you shift the focus from yourself and listen to whatever your friend has to say when trying to come out to you or have already come out to you. If they are taking forever to say it, wait. Give them the time and space to feel comfortable enough to speak their mind. And when they do say something, hold back responses like 'I knew it'. Give a big hug to your friend first. You'll have your turn for a question-and-answer session later.
2. When someone comes out to you, thank them, and celebrate
It's a wonderful feeling to be open about your identity, but in a country like ours, it's not always the easiest thing to be yourself. When someone comes out to you, thank them that they could trust you. Ask your friend how big a celebration they want! Most importantly, never disclose anyone's sexual orientation or gender identity without asking them first.
3. Educate yourself and check your privileges
You might want to sit and think this one through. A lot of things wouldn't go the way they are working for you now. Suddenly you will realise that your small problems are actually privileges which your LGBTQ+ friends might not have. Remember that at the end of the day, you can never fully understand what it feels like to identify as LGBTQ+ in India. Don't beat yourself up for it, but never stop educating yourself either.
4. Show support
There are many different ways to show your support for the queer community. Show interest in LGBTQ+ issues. Speak up when someone tries to ridicule the community or discriminate against a queer individual. Talking about the rights of your queer friends goes a long way - shine light in times of ignorance. Slowly and steadily, scandalise your family with ideas of modernism and inclusion because who doesn't love a good challenge!
5. Ask, don't assume.
Ask them about their journey, how they felt while growing up or maybe just ask them about how their day was. Tell them that this is new for you but you'd like to understand this aspect of their life better. No question is too stupid or lame. Curious about your queer friends' sex life? Think twice before you ask someone about this aspect of their
life. Let your friend know that their sexual orientation or gender identity is not going to affect your relationship with them. Laugh with your friend, not at them.
But, what if people think I'm also LGBTQ+?
No, they will not. Even if they do, does it matter? You can do it for a friend. We mistake people to be straight, all the time. Make sure you share the love because love is all we need.