Happy National Coming Out Day! Every year since 1988, Americans across the country celebrate the power of coming out as a member of the LGBT community on October 11.
While India’s Supreme Court recently overturned Section 377 of its penal code, which criminalized gay sex, members of the country’s LGBT community continue to face stigma both in their families and in the workplace. Many LGBT artists are addressing those stigmas in their work today.
We’ve rounded up four web series featuring South Asian characters that you should check out this National Coming Out Day. Each reflects the diversity of the LGBT experience while also, in many cases, highlighting the challenges members of the community face in South Asia and the diaspora to this day.
“The ‘Other’ Love Story”
When director Roopa Rao released “The ‘Other’ Love Story,” it was widely praised both in India and around the world. The series follows two teen girls named Aadya and Aachal as they navigate their budding relationship in 1990s Bangalore. The story is set in a time before cell phones and widespread Internet access, so viewers get to see the girls navigate their crowded homes while also discreetly calling each other on their families’ landlines. Many reviewers noted that in addition to being memorable and touching, “The ‘Other’ Love Story” was also the first-ever Indian web series to feature a lesbian relationship.
You can check out this trailblazing series in its entirety on Revry.
Created by poet and writer Fatimah Asghar, “Brown Girls” was an instant hit when it debuted on Elle.com in 2017. Starring Nabila Hossain and Sonia Denis as a queer Pakistani-American writer and an African-American musician, “Brown Girls” is based on Asghar’s own relationship with her best friend Jamila Woods. She is currently in talks with HBO to bring the series to television.
Asghar told us in June that she believed that “Brown Girls” clicked with so many people because the characters were both nuanced and realistic. “Sometimes it can be disheartening to see representations of people of color where they are just stock characters, like ‘this is a smart Indian girl’ or ‘this is a sassy black friend,’ and that’s all they’re about,” she noted. “What I was trying to do was paint these characters as nuanced humans and I hope that came across.”
Stream the entire series here.
“Romil and Jugal”
This new series is an Indian take on Romeo and Juliet. It features two men in a forbidden relationship. Jugal is a quiet South Indian Tamil man who unexpectedly falls for Romil, a boisterous Punjabi who is his opposite in almost every way. When the relationship becomes known to both of the couple’s families, “Romil and Jugal” details each set of parents slow journey to acceptance.
Check out “Romil and Jugal” here.
The plot for the Tamil series “America Mappillai” sounds like a spin on the classic 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company.” Like many young Indians, lead character Ganesh finds that he’s under intense pressure from his father to marry. To put his family off, a friend of Ganesh’s suggests that he pretend to be gay. As one might expect, crazy antics (and unexpected consequences) then ensue.