It’s Not Easy To Come Out As A Lesbian, Says Monisha Ajgaonkar

Monisha Ajgaonkar holding the pride flag
Image credit: Bhumika Bhatia

I have been an ally of the LGBTQIA community ever since the day I learned that human sexuality exists on a spectrum. In fact, I never quite understood—and still fail to understand—why people who aren’t heterosexual are seen as weirdos. Sexual preferences and their expression are private matters that don’t concern others, right?  Anyway, in honor of Pride Month, I got the opportunity to interview wedding photographer and LGBTQ activist Monisha Ajgaonkar. Over to her.

What inspired you to become an LGBTQ activist? Was it an incident, an individual, a need to change the world, or something else?

It has been a privilege for me to be an activist for the LGBTQ+ community where my work is recognized for what it is. I supported the community because this is the place where I can be open and I wanted to make sure others like me can find the courage to be open. See, I do what I do because it makes me happy.  I have spoken more than words through my projects on the cause and people have been very understanding and helpful.

 Despite the decriminalization of homosexuality last year, most gay people in India still choose to stay in the closet. Why do you think this is the case?

People in India are still maturing and accepting us for who we are. It’s not going to be easy for us to get married and adopt children and live a normal life. However, the outlook of society is changing slowly and people are being very supportive.

Many gay people are still in the closet and scared to come out because of family and social pressure. It’s okay to be scared, there are a lot of people like me to help you find courage. It is important to be financially independent so that people’s thoughts do not affect you.

How did coming out as a lesbian affect you personally and professionally?

I have been out and working since I was a teenager. It’s not easy to come out as a lesbian, I had to break ties with my family when they found out about me through a newspaper interview. Till date, I am not in contact with my family.

In the early times of my company The Photo Diary, a lot of clients backed out because of who I am, they were not comfortable with me. Today, a lot of clients and their families have been very supportive and most of them give me a lot of love. They want to know about my life and my story. I’ve been grateful to accept such love from my clients and feel blessed to get many clients this year.

If there is one thing you could change this pride month, what would it be and why?

India is changing slowly. Section 377 was abolished last year, it’s amazing to see straight people fighting for our community. People have started accepting us, loving us, brands are hosting campaigns, people are making short films to support our cause. We can now be free and open.

The only thing I’d like to change is that we could get married.

And for the future, I’d like gay couples to be able to adopt children. I know this is going to be very difficult for people to accept. It would be extremely scary to raise a child with society’s views clashing with ours.

How can allies further your cause?

Allies are being supportive by taking part in many rallies and events. They are not orthodox and they understand that we are not criminals and that we are humans.

Supporters are making beautiful short films, international brands like Dove, Apple, Levi’s are decorating their logos in the LGBTQ colors. Supporters host rallies and events all over the world to support our rights. It’s really nice to see that as of now, everyone has been very supportive. Please keep this up.

If you want to collaborate with Monisha for a cause, connect with her on Instagram. 

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