#PrideSpecial: There's an ally for everyone with Prarthana Prasad

Six fabulous LGBTQIA+ individuals write heartfelt letters to their first shoulder to lean on! Here's queer digital content creator, Prasad's warm words for the community.

17 June, 2024
#PrideSpecial: There's an ally for everyone with Prarthana Prasad

To the community,

Just like messages in a bottle tossed into the sea, you send your videos out into the world not knowing who they were going to reach...not imagining all the lives they would change.

Among the lives changed was mine. Sitting in my room, rewinding every cute moment, and wishing my internet speed was fast enough to keep up.

I didn’t meet a single other gay person till I was 17. I live in a big Indian metropolitan but that didn’t matter much in 2010. As a fairly sheltered child going to a good school with ‘good’ influences, I never came across gay people. When I came out in high school, I was the only gay person I knew, that my friends knew, or that seemed to exist in any space I walked into. But there’s a space where I found the relatability and company I so desperately desired—the Internet.

It sounds like a recipe for danger—a lonely child suffering through thoughts that no 14-year-old should go through alone, scouring the internet, unsupervised. I am sure modern parents would shudder at the thought. But, for me, it was a godsend. I found queer YouTubers who shared their stories of growing up gay and existing in a world that rarely ever had room for them. I found lesbian couples who smiled at each other with love so delightful I had to keep rewinding. I found sharp wit and humour in places I thought were too dark. I found more than just survival...I found joy.

I realised that every scary thing that I would have to go through—coming out to my parents, coming out to my friends, navigating heteronormativity, just wanting to be myself—I wasn’t alone in having to fight those fights. There were millions of other people who fought it, and came out happy and laughing on the other side. They were my allies...they were the silver lining to my every dark cloud.

It would have been better to imagine I had real people in my life who I could turn to. While I love my high school friends to bits for being accepting of me when I first came out to them, I never felt comfortable sharing too much with them. I’ve never been the kind of person to turn to family or friends for emotional support. It simply feels too awkward and stilted to me. And nothing is worse than pouring your heart out only to be met with puzzled or alarmed looks. There’s a sad reality to sharing your queerness with someone when you’re not yet entirely confident of yourself. Most of the time, even an understanding listener will pat you on the back and tell you it’s a phase. For them, the true relief lies in the passing of all this confusion and not in assuring our poor unsure baby that it’s fine that you’re gay and they love you all the same.

The truth is that no one can understand being queer and the feelings that come with it quite like another queer person. And, with an extremely limited supply of queer people out and about in Indian society, the Internet is the oft-turned to saviour for most closeted kids. So I’d like to thank Rose and Rosie (YouTubers Rose Ellen Dix and Rosie Spaughton); Shannon & Cammie  (YouTubers Shannon Beveridge and Cammie Scott); Ally Hills (musician), Bria and Chrissy (YouTubers Bria Michelle Kam and Chrissy Emily Chambers); and Kaelyn and Lucy (YouTubers Kaelyn Petras and Lucy Sutcliffe), the gay women channels, queer movie makers, queer songwriters, queer fiction writers, queer Tumblr users, gay bloggers, and all the commenters. Also, just about EVERY queer person on the Internet who reaches out to each other across space and time to simply assure one another that we’re alright, we’re wonderful, and we deserve to be.


This article originally appeared in Cosmopolitan India Magazine's May-June 2024 print issue.

Image credit: Shradha Swaminathan

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