Today I’ve decided to pen down my feelings.”
“To every closeted kid,
Coming out is a lifelong process. You may come out to your friends and family once, but you are never quite done with coming out to the rest of the world.”
“Dear LGBT friends,
It is not the first time they are chasing us down, hands full of stones.
It won’t be the last we are pelted at and called names.”
That’s how the letters begin as people express what they’re going through on paper, written with a handwriting that ebbs and flows over the pages. 30 Letters of Pride are coming out stories from people across the sexual spectrum—lesbian, gay, transgender, gender fluid, bisexuals, gender non-conforming, intersex. They are addressed from kids to parents, from parents to kids, to friends and members of the community or to no one in particular.
The project is a collaboration between Chittii Pvt Ltd, a Bengaluru-based for-profit company specialized in content drafting and letter writing, and Ramakrishna Sinha’s blog, 101 Coming Out Stories from India. The 30 stories released one-a-day in the pride month (June 2018) cross religious, geographic and identity lines, all with a single aim — to understand the struggles of the LGBT+ community through the lost art of letter-writing.
Srini Ramaswamy, the CEO of Chittii, explained why they chose writing letters over the more modern forms of communication.
“I grew up during the era where we used to exchange letters. When we were in school, we were always encouraged to use good handwriting but now its nowhere used. I lived in north India and wrote letters to my father and grandfather, which was a really emotional experience. While I continued to write, I later realised that letter-writing takes you on a totally different emotional journey — something that texts or WhatsApp can’t.”
Ramaswamy felt that after December 2013 when the Supreme Court reinstated Section 377, a lot of people either went back in the closet or started protecting their identity. The project, he feels, is a platform for queer individuals to express their true selves and for straight people and allies to understand the amount of effort it takes to come out.
Sinha handpicked 30 letters for Chittii to draft. In turn, Ramaswamy and Chittii’s co-founder Chetan Gowda discovered 20 writers—artists, as they like to call them—who have a good handwriting and could write in multiple languages.
But do the letters have the desired effect? Ramaswamy thinks so.
“By putting out the coming out stories every day, we already have 4-5 people coming to us and telling us that they are so moved to come out to their parents and friends and express what they’re going through.”
As one person ends his letter that he addressed to his father,
“People change, their opinions change and hopefully my country’s laws will also change someday. Hope you understand me soon, and we can be the happy family we once were.
Your gay son”