Cheers to Rainbow month: “I’m not embarrassed about who I am. I’m not apologetic!” – Karan Johar and Other Queer Icons Share Their Self-Discovery Stories

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Experience the power of authenticity this Pride month by immersing yourself in the inspiring stories of real individuals who have fought to accept themselves and reveal their true selves to their loved ones. While society has made strides towards inclusivity, there remains an urgent need for open discussions on self-acceptance and the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community. Uncover the journeys of remarkable queer icons such as Tan France, Lilly Singh, and Karan Johar through their captivating podcasts, memoirs, and audiobooks, available exclusively on Audible.

Karan Johar’s Impact on LGBTQ+ Visibility and Acceptance
A household name in India, Karan Johar is someone who needs no introduction. He is known for directing and producing blockbuster movies that often revolve around themes of love, relationships, and family dynamics. While he has never admitted it publicly, there have been speculations surrounding his sexual orientation. In his autobiography, An Unsuitable Boy, Karan dwells on how his movies with homosexual characters have helped people come out of the closet. “People say that I make fun of and stereotype homosexuals. But I say, no, I’ve brought homosexuality to dining table discussions. I’ve received over a thousand emails and letters from gay boys and girls thanking me for making Dostana because, they said, now at least people know what the concept is. I also made Bombay Talkies which dealt with gay married men who are actually hiding and repressing themselves, owing to social and parental pressures. I’ve not made fun of homosexuality; I’ve addressed it with humour, but all for a reason. ”

Lilly Singh’s Struggles With Labels
Reminiscing her brave act of officially coming out to her family, Indian-origin YouTuber Lilly Singh mentions how people are expected to fit into the socially created categories, and doing otherwise can often raise questions. Be a Triangle presents Lilly’s thoughts on self-love, sexuality, and societal norms on Audible. “At the age of 30, I came out as bisexual to my family. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and the lead-up to that moment was filled with anxiety. Out of fear that I would lose my words, I wrote my parents a letter, printed it out, and placed it in front of them…The picture I took of that moment in my brain is one where I’m trying to be brave and authentic, and no one is being supportive of me. Looking at that picture over and over again during the next two years, I let that disappointment impact my life in every way. I became less confident, harder on myself, and jaded. After much reflection, I’ve come to realize that the mental picture I took of this moment was not entirely reflective of the truth. In reality, my parents came into my room and hugged me.”

Tan France’s Journey of Self-Discovery
Tanveer Wasim, a creative powerhouse and queer icon is a fashion designer, entrepreneur, and television personality. Popularly known as Tan France, the Queer Icon has been vocal about the rights of LGBTQ+, and has actively participated in pride activism. In the Audible podcast Tan France’s Queer Icons – he discusses the fascinating lives of prominent queer people from the 17-19th century, whilst sharing personal anecdotes on his journey to self-discovery. “I understand this feeling of needing to escape and wanting to express yourself so greatly. I remember distinctly at the age of 16 desperately wanting to go to New York. That would be the place I could be myself, be openly gay and nobody would cause me any issues. And so very stupidly at the age of 16..I told a couple of my friends that I wanted to go to New York…We went for five whole days, I lived the greatest days of my entire life within those 5 days. I was exactly who I wanted to be going to bars, and flirting with boys and I continued to do that twice a year for the next six years.”

Sharan Dhaliwal on Embracing Personal Agency
Sharan Dhaliwal founded one of the UK’s leading South-Asian culture magazines – Burnt Roti. The journalist-turned-author is constantly pushing the envelope as a Queer Indian Woman, diving into the facets of queer activism and societal issues. In this part memoir/part guide – Burning My Roti, Sharan chronicles chapters covering sexual and cultural identity, racial inequalities, and more. Elaborating on her personal experience dealing with shame and moral policing head-on, Sharan Dhaliwal conveys her deepest emotions and thoughts on shame. “Shame on you, I am just going to go ahead and be sexually liberated. The older I get the more is expected of me whether it is my career or personal life. I am expected to succeed the way only a woman can and that is usually with a family. Family aside, I am also expected to be aligned with a set of values and morals that are aligned with the older and somewhat defunct generation of women who have struggled.” It’s a long road ahead for the queer community, with many boundaries to break and opportunities to take. However, inspiring stories of such stalwart LGBTQ+people motivate the commune to embrace their reality and live with pride.

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