It’s true that we actively started talking about the LGBTQIA+ spectrum only about a decade ago, but India’s history was not definitely written exclusively by straight people. However, these instances or anecdotes are rarely a part of our curriculum or popular culture. But if you’re someone who is curious to learn more about the history of LGBTQIA+ people in India and an Instagram user, you must definitely check out the handle @lgbthistoryindia run by Dr Anindya Kar, a 29-year-old doctor from Kolkata. « Archiving the queer history of India along with the struggle, loss & joys of the LGBTQIA+ community, » its bio reads. Over the past few years, Anindya has researched extensively to archive as much history as he can, so that the queer people of India can take pride in their culture and relate to it all.
What Anindya does here is, in simple words, bridging an existing gap with material that was once forgotten. This consists of notes, texts, videos and news articles. There are ancient, medieval and contemporary histories and even depictions of queerness from different cultures and mythologies. « Looking back at the LGBTQIA+ history pages on Instagram, I couldn’t find much documentation of South Asian history. In fact, there was no Indian representation. This is the country that told the world about queerness. So, I thought we should have a page that documents India’s queer history, » he says. Anindya adds that a lot of native Indian terms around homosexuality and queerness have gotten lost, owing to the lack of documentation. « So, I thought I must create an archive before the available information vanishes, » he says.
Anindya Kar is a former LGBT Task Force Member of World Psychiatry Association
Anindya is no historian. He laughs when he says that his only qualification is scoring above 90 per cent in History during his Board examination. « My History teacher always thought that I would have a good career in History. But after I created this page, I got a few messages saying that it would be lovely to see my archived content in our History books. That was quite heartening, » he says. The page has also put up vintage photographs and coming-out stories of people, both young and old. We bet you’ll have a lot of ‘TIL’ moments once you check this page out. He adds that he tries his best to not voice his opinion here but only depict the information.
He says that most of the earlier information he had on queerness was through conversations he had with his queer friends. « So, when I decided to take up this project, I knew what I had to search for. This honestly is time-consuming, especially at times like these, when I am working with COVID patients. So these days, whenever I come across relevant information, I bookmark them and share them when I have the time, » he says.
A background in Psychiatry, Anindya says it’s an added advantage for him for a clearer understanding of the subject. He is also said to have co-authored a letter by the World Psychiatric Association, which, in 2016, said that homosexuality is as natural as left or right-handedness. This was right before the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict of scrapping Section 377. In fact, he says that laws have a huge impact on people’s psychiatry and mentality. « It is proven that as social acceptance has become wider, mental health disorders among minorities have reduced, » he says, adding, « So, I think this is the right time to archive these instances. It is time to take pride in our queer history. »
Edex and The New Indian Express have been curating the 40 Under Forty list since 2017. We featured collections of impactful grassroots teachers in 2017, innovative start-ups in 2018 and environmental impact-makers in 2019. All the people selected have been chosen after a careful process of editorial selection and nomination. Reach out to us at email@example.com