Full Moon on a Dark Night

Soumya Sankar Bose

A friend used to tell me about her dreams.

For the last sixteen years, she has had a recurring dream where she sits on a chair beside a window in the room in which her sister died. In the dream she returns home from an unknown war while a dead body lies in the bed. The identity of the dead character is never clear to her. Is it her lover? Her sister? Maybe her mother? Why is she wearing a warrior’s uniform? Is it because she has been fighting for acceptance? Or is it because her mother always told her that it would be a crime for her to love another girl? The only thing clear to her about the dream is the anxiety she faces as she pursues the love of her choice.

Homosexuality was a crime in India until the first week of September 2018, when the Supreme Court of India overturned the controversial use of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – a 156-year-old colonial law – to prohibit and persecute consensual homosexual sex. The court declared this use of the law ‘irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary’. The code was used to arrest over 1,500 people in 2016. The end of section 377 marks a historic change for all Indians – loving someone of the same sex is no longer a crime. But how long will it take before the ingrained, homophobic prejudices of our society truly change?

Hearing about my friend’s subconscious inspired me to work on stories about my LGBT friends in India – their rights, dreams and desires. Through these photos I created a space where they could express their personal experiences and feelings, outside of their lived reality. Viewers are privy to their personal experiences, but cannot violate their privacy. In a society that prevents them from living a ‘normal’ life, this work imagines a world in which freedom to live according to one’s own desires exists for all.

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