Several LGBTQIA+ icons, on a national and global level, have played some role that has brought positive changes to the community. As times change and people become more open to the LGBTQIA+ community, many have completed milestones in various fields. Although India is still backward on some levels, we have progressed as a country over the years.
Here are some iconic LGBTQIA+ icons to look up to starting this pride month:
With the Supreme Court recommending Saurabh Kirpal as the judge of the Delhi High Court in 2021, he became the first openly gay senior advocate to be considered for such a position, showing some remarkable developments in the thinking of our society. Saurabh Kirpal is known for his works in the landmark case of Navtej Singh Johar vs UOU, ultimately leading the Supreme Court to decriminalise homosexuality in 2018. Working briefly with the United Nations in Geneva, Saurabh Kirpal also played a critical role in reading down Section 377. His fight toward providing the LGBTQIA+ community everything they deserve is definitely fruitful, making him a great role model to many people alike.
Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju
Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju is a digital content creator, surgeon in training and transgender activist. Karnataka's first openly trans woman, she rightly uses her platform to speak to the masses about gender, sexuality, queer-phobia, mental health and more. Starting off as a way to cope with negativity, her platform is now a safe space for those seeking to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community, spreading awareness to all. Documenting her medical, legal and social transitioning journey on social media platforms, she became the first Indian to do so. With her confidence and ability to beautifully balance being a surgeon in training and content creation at such a young age while still battling against trolls, Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju is a role model, no doubt!
Everyone knows Dutee Chand, the professional Indian sprinter and Olympic athlete. She is India's first openly gay athlete, having come out publicly in 2019. At the young age of 25, her achievements are plenty, including being the first Indian to win a gold medal in a global 100m race competition. Initially, not knowing what it meant to be a lesbian or the term, she was confused, but over time she understood, getting into a relationship shortly. As her elder sister threatened to reveal her secret to the press, she decided it was best to confront the situation and stand up for herself. Having faced several issues throughout her journey as an athlete but coming out strong as ever, Dutee Chand is a true inspiration for everyone.
Miss TransQueen India, the very first transgender beauty pageant in India, crowned Nitasha Biswas as the beauty pageant winner in 2017. She became India's first trans beauty queen, a proud moment for the LGBTQIA+ community, as it showed they were slowly getting recognised. Coming out to her family, Nitasha faced abandonment, even by her father, leading to being broke and staying hungry for days. Even as she struggled to put food on her plate, she didn't give up and continued to strive for the best, resulting in Nitasha donning several hats as an activist, actor, and model. Like Nitasha, many other transgender individuals want to get their voices heard, making her an inspiration to many in the community.
Like Nitasha, Naaz Joshi is also an inspiration for many in the trans and LGBTQIA+ community as she became India's first transgender international beauty queen. Miss Trans Global is a reputed beauty pageant for trans women across the globe, and among several applicants, only 13 made the shortlist, with Naaz Joshi, as one of them. Naaz Joshi is India's first transgender cover model, the world's first trans woman to win an international beauty pageant with cisgender women, and India's first transgender show stopper, amongst other achievements. She, too, had to go through several issues growing up, but she continues to work hard, making India proud and recognised globally, inspiring people throughout the way.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil became India's first openly gay royal in 2006— when he came out publicly. With homosexuality being illegal in India until 2018, a nationwide scandal arose with the town of Rajpipla, where his ancestors were kings, including his parents, turned against him. As homosexuality got decriminalised in 2018, Prince Manvendra worked towards converting the palace grounds he was thrown out of into a shelter for those troubled people from the community like him. After some torturous years of enduring convergence in silence and being forced into a marriage, the Prince is now happily married to his husband. As he continues to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the country and works towards making conversion illegal, the Prince will continue to inspire people.