“It all started one day when a trans man contacted me for help. I, in turn, passed on the information to Mr Selvam, a transman from our team and rushed quickly to start my session on ‘Stress addressal and burnout prevention’. Now, suddenly on my way, I saw a couple of people suddenly calling my name, asking me to step outside. Assuming it was another set of queer community members in crisis, I went out. only to be dragged downstairs violently and be stuffed inside a vehicle.
They said they are from the police and that I was wanted for an investigation. But the lack of uniforms, identity cards or even a police vehicle got me more suspicious. I told them that I am a law abiding citizen who’s willing to cooperate but not ready to be manhandled. Since they threatened to snatch the phone I tried requesting them to inform my center on my behalf, which was also conveniently lied about and not done.
And it was only after a while that I came to know that they were behind me due to all the work I did earlier, in providing peer counseling support for a lesbian woman who wanted to leave her parent’s home and stay in Chennai with her partner. They were in search of the woman and were harassing me, in turn, to get to her.
Fortunately though, my coworkers and community friends came down to check on me and continued to talk to the people who were harassing me. They were giving out all kinds of threats including evicting me from Chennai, filing cases on me for human trafficking and much more. I really don’t know if I’d even be alive had my friends not come down there for me.
Nevertheless, after a full day of torture, they found their girl and eventually released me. And unfortunately she had to go through a lot of harassment with her folks, before approaching me once again to take actionable steps against the clan. Plus this time, despite fully being aware of what could happen, I empowered her to take her case to the court and boldly demand her rights.
So as a result of a long drawn process, we finally have the interim judgment on S Sushma v. Commissioner of Police from the Honorable Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court which affirms the right of gay and lesbian individuals to live with the person they love and not be harassed by anyone for that. Further, the judge had also passed orders to specially not harass NGO workers supporting LGBT individuals. Of course, this whole experience has been extremely painful and traumatizing for me but I’ll continue to stand by a hundred more such scenarios if that’s the right thing for our collective futures!