Awareness and a clear understanding of the LGBTQ community is the need of the hour, says actress Somy Ali. Somy, who runs a US based NGO called No More Tears and helps the victims of rape and domestic violence, says that she has rescued so many LGBTQ community members during this ongoing Pride month.
“In June alone we have from our non-profit’s end, rescued 22 LGBTQ victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence and hate crimes. They are all under our care and above all they are enjoying their freedom and living their truth. One day, and not to sound morbid, but there is a lot hate in people, I will be long gone and my LGBTQ friends will have found all the support in the world and love that they deserve. They also deserve an apology for how they were and still are being treated. I will end with saying that we are headed in the right direction no matter how long it takes,” she says.
She adds, “Awareness depends where one is geographically and how much education one has attained to ascertain that it's their sexual orientation and not a sexual choice, when it comes to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Therefore, in my opinion, if a simpleton assumes that one chooses that lifestyle then their thoughts will remain stagnant unless they have an epiphany of some sort where they realise that we are born this way and we do not choose to be gay or straight. Life is difficult enough to live being as a heterosexual, why would one ‘choose’ to be gay! It’s nonsensical to me.”
In fact, during her college days, Somy actively spread awareness. Although it was not easy, she says, adding, “Personally, I had many roadblocks in my college days to initiate a Gay/Straight/Student/Alliance Club and this was back in 2000. I often go to the university's website to see if my initiative is still standing tall and the torch was passed on for others to carry that legacy. I was elated to know that other students; gay and straight; took over the club and it still exists. As for an increase in progress, yes, definitely, but tolerance and acceptance should not be words affiliated when we speak of the LGBTQ Community. We don't speak of an increase of acceptance when it comes to hetrosexuals then why the former? The world will glow when we trade those terms with equal rights for all, be it an LGBTQ Community, religious freedom, eradication of the caste system, cultural freedom, freedom of speech, the end of bigotry, and lastly wars over land and money. And for the love of God please shut down Fair and lovely. It’s despicable that it’s still around and people are falling for that farce. I am proud of my olive skin. Let’s not forget the most stunning women are olive skinned from Rekha to Halle Berry, Nandita Das, Tyra Banks, Beyoncé, Smita Patel, Seema Hari, Malaika Arora, and the list goes on and on. Olive skin is gorgeous and sexy. Bottom line skin discrimination needs to end.”
She says, “Look, we have a long way to go and we all carry some sort of prejudices in us consciously or subconsciously. Once we recognise that, change will automatically take place or at least the recognition of our prejudices will plant a seed for us to at least try and change our thought process about many subjects when it comes to discrimination.”
Ask her if she feels the representation of same-sex relationships in movies like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, and OTT and media contribute to the understanding and acceptance of gay rights, and she says, “It's hard to say these things have an impact on the older generation, although my father surprised me a few years ago when I told him that my NGO also significantly helps our LGBTQ Community. His response shocked me because I was totally expecting a long lecture. Instead, my father said that God has made people the way they are and thus we should not discriminate against anyone. He added that he is very proud of my work. Then, I went to tell him, gloatingly of course, about the GSSA Student club I initiated in 2000 and that it is still quite alive and raising funds for many charities to help our gay/trans community.”
She adds, “With Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa laga, I was literally jumping with joy because I had no clue what the film was about. To see Sonam who is not only stunning, but played her character with the utmost perfection was a huge delight. Of course, the cherry on the cake was Anil sir playing her father and the ending had me bawling for what seemed like hours. I am extremely proud of both of them for being a part of something so revolutionary and so mandatory. Now, that's definitely a sign of progress. But we should not stop here because I recall quite vividly when ‘Fire’ was released in Mumbai, I saw cinemas were being burnt down in the late 90's. I was beyond disillusioned when it came to gay rights after those horrible atrocities. Nandita Das and Shabana ji are not only brilliant at their craft, but they are the real deal when it comes to activism. They walk the walk metaphorically and literally. They were both extraordinarily fantastic in the film and did the utmost justice to their characters' needs and wants. Point being, we need to normalise these kinds of movies and they should not be exceptions to the norm, rather they should be the absolute norm similar to mainstream cinema. I await that day with great eagerness for my LGBTQ Family and a time when we stop using words like tolerate and accept.”