Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh is known for his quirky style quotient that often defies accepted norms and standards of male styling. But it seems even Ranveer Singh cannot stave off bullies, homophobes and transphobes after a photo of him wearing heeled shoes went viral.
Despite increasing talk about gender inclusivity in recent years, instances of polarisation and discrimination especially on social media have in no measure reduced. Lakhs of people across India continue to be bullied by homophobes on and offline. And not just queer people but even heterosexual, celebrity men like actor Ranveer Singh. The actor recently shared an image of himself wearing shoes with heels. The viral image seemed to unleash a legion of trolls on social media, many of whom picked on Singh for his choice of footwear.
Inclusive clothing, styling and notions of beauty have been becoming increasing popularity since the rise in gender discourse. And as an actor and celebrity, Singh has often tried to smash the archaic macho-man syndrome in Bollywood by regularly donning gender-neutral clothes.
In a recent viral photo that was shared on Twitter, a photo of the actor wearing black boots was shared. However, there was a catch. The photo was not fully shared on social media and instead only the lower part of the picture with the legs and shoes was put up and the user wanted fans to guess who was in the original picture. A few of them guessed, while one thought it might be actor Sonakshi Sinha, another commented it was Shraddha Kapoor.
But the user then shared the original photo of Singh wearing it and the comments that followed were offensive to say the least - ranging from homophobic rants to jokes on Deepika Padukone and some even dragged film producer/director Karan Johar into it. The actor’s shoes, his clothes were all made fun of and it begs the question, are Indians ready to accept gender-neutral fashion, and by extension non-heterosexual men? How long will it take for us to come out of the homophobia?
Despite the historic Supreme Court verdict to decriminalize homosexuality in 2017, comments such as these reflect that a lot of work still remains to be done when it comes to shattering gender stereotypes. Singh’s photo going viral and the reactions are a recurring element and the pattern is all too painfully familiar because androgynous fashion has often been slammed for being ‘offensive’, ‘insulting’ and more because of them not conforming to pre-defined gendered ideas. Reacting to the trolling, many on social media felt that anti-discrimination laws and greater sensitization of the society at large are the need of the hour.