Haunting Photo Series Explores Homosexuality In India

Homosexuality In India

By Amanda Froelich Truth Theory

For decades, individuals in the UK and the US have “come out” to family members with repercussions rarely more severe than shunning and/or ridicule. If an individual reveals they are homosexual to friends or family members in India, however, they are likely to face far more severe sanctions. This is because sex between people of the same gender is illegal in the country, and same-sex couples are not legally allowed to marry or obtain a civil partnership. Though India does recognize Hijra as a third gender, the topic of homosexuality, in general, is considered to be taboo.

“Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

This mind-numbing reality is what the following series, entitled “Coming Out,” explores. Imagined and photographed by Arjun Kamath, the fictional series follows two women revealing their love interests to the world. Far from a fairy tale happy ending, it reveals the challenges of being homosexual in India and raises awareness about the dangers couples in the country presently face.

“It’s a free world.”

“Maitreyi opened the door for the first time…The unending fog hung in the air like a suffocating sheath, blanketing the land with its ghostly glow.”

“A cold wind blew mercilessly, chilling Alpana to the marrow, as she opened the creaky closet door. The overhead dark clouds skimmed past the orange sun from time to time, throwing the little patch of forest into blackness. Flashes of lightning in the distance made the already nervous Alpana not want to step out…“

“The twigs cracked under Alpana’s feet as she stumbled out of the closet; Maitreyi’s calm presence gave her the hope that the forest was a safe place. As the two girls trudged ahead, the winds of the forest roared, blowing an eerie chill past the endless line of dying trees…”

“The wildlife held its breath as Alpana embraced Maitreyi; the girls had been in love for the longest time ever. And although the leafless trees stood like witches over their petite figures, they stood there undeterred. They had finally come out of the closet and now there was no looking back…”

“As Maitreyi and Alpana grew comfortable in each other’s arms, the glowing sun started to reveal itself through the perilous clouds.”

“The love between Maitreyi and Alpana overflowed and changed the mood of the forest. The mischievous sun peeped through the clouds and washed the forest with a golden glow as the girls trudged forward. The tree’s soft whispers against the wind were like a gentle lullaby, comforting them along the way…”

“The forest turned to pale copper as the rays of the sun pulled itself across the horizon and slid in between the grey clouds. Alpana tightened the knot one final time. ‘Good luck, Mai’ she whispered…”

“The greys began to fade, as liquid gold crept up from leaf to limb. Maitreyi and Alpana had never been happier…”

“Maitreyi surrendered to the beat of her feet against the rocks that littered her path. Her laughter, breathless and sporadic mingled fluently with the morning chorus of the birds. Sweat spread itself across her forehead, causing her hair to cling to it as her throat pined for more air. The delicious rush of wind skimmed past her face as she ran around the forest trying to catch Alpana. And as the canopy overhead thickened, her steps grew muffled because of the leaves that blanketed the forest floor; the ground was no longer cold beneath her soles…”

“Suddenly during the game, Maitreyi collapsed to the ground as she felt the pain as strong as a hundred daggers sinking into her feet. Squirming with anguish, she sat on the damp grass, clutching her feet. Her eyes were watery with the sheer pain and her breathing was heavy. Sweat dripped down the side of her face and covered her forehead in a thin sheen. A nasty thorn had penetrated her leg and she was in great pain…”

“Seeing Maitreyi in pain caused Alpana’s chest to swell with melancholy. However, Alpana willed herself to comfort Maitreyi and pull the thorn out of her flesh. She ignored the ringing in her ears, the heat from her cheeks as she felt the need to cry; it was her idea to play hide and seek after all. The small punctures in Alpana’s heart slowly filled with anxiety, knowing that she didn’t have long before she completely lost it. She sucked in a breath and held it there. She had to be strong. For Maitreyi. For her.”

“Maitreyi’s thumb caressed Alpana’s earlobe softly, her fingers supporting the back of her head as she leaned in firmly, yet seductively, placing her lips over Alpana’s nose. Ragged breathing and dancing heartbeats brought a fiery heat to the cold forest air. ‘It’s not your fault…’ whispered Maitreyi.”

“Parivala, very much like Maitreyi and Alpana had found freedom in the very same forest a few days ago. So when she saw the girls embrace each other, her heart was overcome with joy. She observed them from a distance and was glad that they had come out…”

“Parivala blessed the girls and walked away..”

“It was a new day and the glimmer of hope strengthened with every passing minute.”

“Maitreyi and Alpana’s joyful laughter echoed through the forest… But somewhere in the distances, maybe miles away, maybe just a few feet, they heard something moving. Once, twice. Something heavier dropped, crashed into the rubble, echoed off the trees. Then silence again…”

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