How Silicon Valley fostered India’s LGBTQ+ movement

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08/31/2019

The moment I heard that Section 377 had finally fallen, I wondered if my friends Arvind and Ashok, sitting far away from India in their two-storey house in San Jose in California, had heard the news. Arvind Kumar and Ashok Jethanandani were the first out gay Indian couple I had ever met. In a sense, they were living proof that it was possible to be gay and Indian at the same time, their gayness as matter-of-fact as dal chawal. Both had followed the time-worn route of the good Indian boy—engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), postgraduation in the US and a job in Silicon Valley. But they were gay in a world where few gay Indians were visible. Arvind once told me he got tired of going to Indian potlucks where he felt he had to check his gayness at the door. And he didn’t enjoy being the only Indian in the village in San Francisco’s famous gay scene. He just wanted to be both at the same time.

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