The following is a personal story by one of our Victory Institute fellows in India. Education is a pivotal entry point towards a better understanding of the LGBTQ community’s stories, struggles, and needs. The ability for members of the community to impactfully share their stories is a key factor in moving towards better conditions for LGBTQ persons around the world. The LGBTQ Victory Institute trains individuals all around the world, including India, to be leaders and advocates for the LGBTQ community. This type of work is pivotal in creating a greater sense of knowledge about issues surrounding the LGBTQ community that will inspire understanding and acceptance.
From my childhood, I’ve had a deep urge to watch a movie in a cinema theatre. Now I have fulfilled that wish, but only partly. Because I never got a chance to watch a full movie in a theatre. I missed the ending.
One day my desire to watch a film on the big screen was so intense that I told my community members, come let us go to a theatre now. All of us set out for the cinema. The autorickshaw driver demanded Rs 50 extra the moment he saw us. Since it was getting late, we had no choice but to accept and take the ride. When we reached the cinema hall, all the people there started staring at us. They began to make faces at us, exchange smiles and signals, and throw insulting jibes at us. I was seething with anger but controlled myself somehow. I cooled off by seeing funny messages on my mobile.
By now the hall doors started opening and all the people began to enter. My friends bowed their heads in shame and quickly went in and settled down in a corner. But I took a deep breath and thought to myself, I came to watch the movie just like they came to watch the movie, let them see me. So I held my head high and boldly walked in.
I noticed that those who were sitting next to us were gazing at us. The movie started. The lights went off and we started watching the movie in peace. At the interval, the lights suddenly came on. Immediately, everyone started staring at us again. They murmured and mocked us by making faces. I got agitated. Thoughts started flooding my mind like, why are they behaving like this, aren’t we human beings who have come to watch the movie like them? Because of their intimidating behavior, we could not even attempt to go have a snack, and we stuck to our seats.
Again the lights went off and the movie started. I don’t know why but it appeared that darkness was much more peaceful than light. Maybe that is why many of my transgender friends are living in darkness, I thought to myself. As the movie neared the end, there was a sudden commotion. My friends were nervous and restless. I asked what happened and they said, let us leave the hall now, let us leave before the crowd goes out. I said why should we go now, in another ten minutes the movie will be over. Let us watch the climax and only then go. They said if we stay till the end we will again be the butt of everyone’s jokes and stares, so let us pack up and leave now, to save us further embarrassment. Since all my friends started leaving the hall I reluctantly accompanied them. I kept wondering about the climax. Many days later, when the same movie came on TV, that is when I knew what the ending was!
If movie-goers treat us like human beings instead of as objects to be mocked, if they didn’t giggle and harass and speak rudely to us, we would be able to watch movies in theatres till the last scene. Instead of that, we have to hope that by chance the same movie would come on TV, and only then we will be lucky enough to know how it ends!
The act of watching is simple and moviegoers should not be faced with discrimination and made feel uncomfortable just because they want to see the next big movie or their favorite stars on the big screen. While for many the act of going to the movie is a regular activity, many members of the LGBTQ community face discrimination in everyday activities around the world. Diverse elected officials play a key role in making something as simple as going to the movies free from discrimination regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBTQ Victory Institute trains individuals all around the world, including India, to be leaders and advocates for the LGBTQ community.