Bengaluru’s LaLiT Ashok hotel found itself decked in the vibrant, gay colours of the rainbow as it witnessed the shades of freedom and inclusivity enter the corporate world. On the 12th of July, Pride Circle, a community of passionate individuals driven towards the cause of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in workspaces, organized India’s first job fair for the community.
RISE or Reimagining Inclusion for Social Equity was one of the biggest national events since the historic Supreme Court judgement that decriminalized homosexuality. A big achievement and milestone for the community, this job fair saw large-scale participation by job-seekers as well as corporate and multinational companies that were now working on expanding their structure to be more accepting. The people who have historically been ostracized and isolated for so long in almost all fields now rejoice as they reclaim public spaces and enterprises, throwing open those doors for the rest.
Society and the community have both come a long way since the days of overt conflict and discrimination, as the courtyards and auditoriums of the luxury hotel resonating with the cheers and shouts of freedom and pride demonstrated the very same.
There are still many who remain closeted to this day as seen in the case when representatives from The Logical Indian (Goodness Partners for the event) asked a few men to share their thoughts, a request which was politely declined. They were just a group of friends seeking jobs, a basic human need, who were not yet ready to come out to their conservative families.
Another representative moderated a panel discussion which consisted of many prominent LGBTQIA+ activists and figures including Selisse Berry, the founder of ‘Out & Equal’. An openly gay woman, she is an entrepreneur based in San Francisco and set up this organization to advocate equal workplace rights for the community. Sharing tales of her own struggle as well as the trajectory which led her to the establishment of this organization, her speech was met with a huge round of applause as the words pulled at many heartstrings in a crowd that related to her story on a deeper level than any other general public gathering could.
The panel also consisted of other renowned personalities who opened up about their experiences as a queer person, including India’s first queer prince, Manvendra Singh Govil. Someone who was willing to provide asylum to anyone from the community, was alas disowned by his very own family in a bid to protect their 650-year-old royal heritage from any “immorality”. He smiled and expressed his support towards the event which would be a big step towards a life of equal dignity for the community, giving them words of reassurance to persevere even if the larger society remains ignorant.
Devdutt Pattanaik, another attendee and speaker at the event, jokingly mocks the sects of people who remain intolerant and ignorant. A prominent writer of mythology, he is well-read and has carried out extensive researches on Hindu Mythology – a sphere which has seen queer personas get represented throughout the pages of history from time immemorial. Even Ramacharitmanasa acknowledges the existence of three genders – male, female, and the other. It is indeed rather baffling then that one of the community’s greatest resistances comes from the socio-religious front.
The rest of the fair was filled with the hopeful and nervous energy emanating from the candidates armed with their resumes, ready to take on the interviews. From local social enterprises to large-scale corporate like Google, they had access to a variety of job opportunities. The event saw people flock to the city from remote and distant parts of the country where they had been denied basic facilities and rights. In the same interview with TLI, Anusha, born male, claimed that the event was a “revolutionary step” for numerous others like her struggling to come to terms with their identities and finding the motivation to bag a job and carve out a life of dignity for their futures.
Representing a heterogeneous collective of people from all walks of life, RISE housed many who were pleasantly surprised with how far India has come in a year. From being criminals until a year ago, the country has now seen a job fair meant for this community. The wave of progress continues to grow larger still and this is just a big step in that direction. The executive director of LaLiT Groups, Keshav Suri, aptly sums it up by concluding that while mainstreaming and wide-scale acceptance has to happen, there are two steps that remain – embracing and empowerment. With the expansion of inclusivity in job opportunities, the same needs to extend into the arena of skill-training for them to truly empower themselves and lead a life of independence.
Original Source: The Logical Indian