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LGBTQIA+ members: Dating apps help us find companions and even come out June 02nd, 2019 from Times of India

LGBT people  Sharing their dreams, confessing their fears

“Sometimes, you have to hide your dreams from the world,” says Kolkata’s Amit Bittoo Dey, who would often tell people that he wanted to pursue hotel management when all he really wanted to do was dance in a chiffon sari like his onscreen idols Sridevi and Madhuri. Growing up, his sisters would apply rouge on his cheeks and doll him up as a bride. “It was a game for them but not for me,” says 27-year-old Dey, a gender-fluid photographer and model who revealed his dreams to the universe recently via a classified advertisement in TOI as part of the #TimesOutandProud campaign. Here, Dey — who is seeking a partner who would accept him the way he is — proclaimed: “On my wedding day, I want to dress up as a bride.”

Soon, affectionate emails poured in from many, including a student from Washington’s Georgetown University who hoped her supportive words may counteract the blowback and hate that his bravery is inevitably bound to be punished with.


Chennai’s Arunkumar, a 20-yearold gender-fluid medical student and make-up artist who often morphs into Miss Masala Dosa — a high-heels-and-snug-cocktail-gownclad drag queen — recently had to get rid of his shimmery nocturnal wardrobe when his mother chanced upon it. “It belongs to a friend,” he lied to her, and nervously transferred the entire pile of stilettos and wigs to a friends’ place. While his circle of medical students who often watch his stories of LGBT parties know and are supportive of his secret life, his family is still in denial. Even his advertisement that cried: “I have no problem. I am pretty normal. Amma and Appa, please try to understand me. I want to see the world and live a fearless life,” didn’t do the trick. “They think my sexuality is a phase,” he says. “They are waiting for it to pass.


Sandy Saha’s classified ad pleaded “Dear Maa, baba, I want you to know I am only interested in men”. “I received a call from my mother who had known all along. She asked me why I hadn’t told her earlier,” said Kolkatabased Saha, who runs a popular You-Tube channel in which he crossdresses and openly flirts with guys. “The campaign shows that there is no shame in being gay and gives those who may lack the guts to share their stories with their parents,” said Saha, who believes creating awareness is key.
As a former reality show contestant, Saha is still recovering from the comments of a “homophobic” hockey player he came across on the show earlier this year who had taunted him saying: “Such people should be beaten with a hockey stick.” Saha — who had suffered sexual abuse and had attempted suicide as a teen after being dumped by a partner — has learned to ignore such barbs by now. “We need to impart proper sex education,” he says.


Bangalore’s Ashish Chopra — an IT professional who was the first runner-up of Mr.Gay World India 2018 — received thoughtful, carefully-worded emails from many including a 47-year-old man who had lost his wife recently. “Not sure if we’d be a match, but would love to connect (once you’ve had a chance to respond to the other million men who would love to snatch you up as a partner!),” wrote a man named Tej.

For 24-year-old Chopra, this overall friendly tone was a refreshing change from the uber-casual vibe of dating websites where people are “only looking for hookups.”


“Society only sees us as people who dress up flamboyantly once a year. We are not visible to the public on an everyday basis,” says

Alex Mathew, for whom the campaign transmits the message that people in the LGBT community “are human beings with similar needs when they see us making announcements about finding a partner.”

While the ads of these brave souls may have compressed their lives to 50 words, their struggles can fill books. All of them carry scars from being bullied as kids for embodying a certain gender or sexuality. Alex — who performs as drag queen Maya — describes his life as a rollercoaster ride full of denied opportunities and derogatory names. He has gone through various versions of men — some who didn’t like seeing him in drag, others who only wanted to see him in drag. Tired, he is now looking for someone “who accepts me as Maya and is equally okay with Alex.”

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