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Indian lesbian singer shares moving coming out story: ‘70% of my friends unfriended me’

Indian lesbian singer shares moving coming out story: ‘70% of my friends unfriended me’

Meet rising star Pragya Pallavi | Photos: Quite Great PR

I came out in 2011, and it was difficult. I had lot of problems and fights with my family.

I stopped eating at my house for almost a week as I was really upset with the arguments taking place every day, and I was almost ready to leave my house, when my grandmother told me: ‘It’s okay, you can be whatever you are and I can’t stop loving you.’

My father was already accepting, and after my grandmother came around, my mother also started accepting me. So that was a really big relief.

My family is my strength, and today they are always there to support me if and when I need them. They love me!

I was talking to lot of my friends on the internet when I came out, thinking that they would be okay, supportive. But 70% of them stopped talking to me and even unfriended me. I started losing gigs in the clubs. I had a very mixed experience. Unfortunately, more negative than positive.

Evolving attitudes

My ideas about my sexuality and my gender identity have been evolving and ongoing.

I’ve known about the terms, gay and lesbian, since I was a kid. I think I always knew in my heart that I was attracted to women but because of the social norms I was confused.

All I could see around me was that being in love is something that occurs between a man and a woman. So I wasn’t sure if I was just having some kind of fantasy or whether that could be made a reality. My biggest resource for understanding my sexuality has been the internet and social media. I feel so grateful and powerful about being a millennial as we grew up with internet.

I call myself gender-fluid because I don’t want to be in any sort of gender box. But I continue to identify as a lesbian and as a woman because I love women. And I feel this identity is very important to me.

The change in law

Last year in the month of September, we got a positive and progressive ruling from the Supreme Court in India that decriminalized same-sex relations.

We celebrated, went out. We had a big party. It was really great to see such a widespread recognition and approval of this judgement.

But it is important to remember that the law by itself cannot change the mindset of the people. So many LGBTQIs still continue to struggle in India. There is a lot more we have to fight for!

Musical beginnings

My family is super musical. My grandmother ran a school and music institute. I started my studies in music and arts from there.

When I was growing up, I used to feel different from other kids as I got bored with things like watching cartoons or playing in the park. I feel lucky that I got a chance to explore different forms of arts since childhood and the freedom to study what I wanted to study. I studied film and TV production, but music’s my first love.

I have always wanted to experiment with music. I like fusion, and the versatility of making music in different genres and styles. I was very much inspired by Celine Dion’s track My Heart Will Go On when I was a kid. That was the track that made me start listening to a lot of Western music.

Women in music

Being a female artist and musician, it is also very important for me to talk about women’s visibility in the entertainment industry. The whole entertainment and music industry is kind of owned by men.

We can’t count women composers or music directors as even 10% of the music industry. It’s a shame. There are so many talented women around. I really feel that it is the time to support women artists. This patriarchy needs to end everywhere.

I have been working on my debut album Queerism for almost three years. There are nine tracks on the album. Each one is a different genre. I have tried to bring together my different musical influences and experiment with musical forms. And I write about what I feel and experience.

I also think it’s important to have political content and write about my experiences as a queer person, LGBTQI+ rights and social issues that concern everyone.

Most mainstream music is not dealing with social issues. I want to be able to use popular music to talk about the big issues as well as everyday situations.

I want to see a big queer musical renaissance in the future, with more queer indie musicians getting bigger platforms to showcase their talent to the whole world. And the whole queer community should become united to get to that level.

To pre-order Queerism click here. For more information about Pragya, visit her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or personal website.

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