On September 6, 2018, Section 377 the Indian Constitution was amended to decriminalize homosexuality.
'Love is love,' became the message of change, irrespective of what gender you chose to love. A year later, we can see some of the changes that have taken place, especially in representation in the media.
Film director Onir, known for his movies like 'My Brother…Nikhil,' 'Bas Ek Pal' and 'I Am,' feels that the conversation in Bollywood has just begun.
Onir, who is very openly out and proud about his sexuality feels that in the last one year since the Supreme Court verdict, the LGBTQ community has started feeling empowered. "It's the first step towards being equal citizens." He also feels that the community no longer feels, "vindicated, or like criminals."
"A lot of people are out in the open because the threat and fear of blackmail is no longer there. One can fight back," he adds. With mainstream movies like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and upcoming Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, it has breached the space of cinema.
Even the digital space sees more representation, with main characters in TV series like Made in Heaven.
But Onir feels that the change in representation has just begun. " We are the biggest film-making country in the world. And in the last one year, 'Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' is the only mainstream movie you can name. You cannot name a second," says Onir.
"Films like Fire, 20 years ago, and Aligarh, and My Brother...Nikhil, these were films that were ground-breaking, because they were made in a time when it was still illegal. That's what makes them bolder," he explains.
"Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga was made in a safe space. The same goes for Made in Heaven, the platform for the digital audience with very little censorship is reaching to people who already know about it. But films like these have always existed in the realm of YouTube," he adds.
Onir, however, feels positive about the starting of change. "I was so happy to see Arjun Mathur in Made in Heaven, and I feel that soon there will be others. I am excited to see Ayushmann Khurrana's upcoming film."
"To see a mainstream actor embracing the role will normalize it for so many people, who will realize that is okay to love whoever you choose to love, and be out and open about it," he said.
The filmmaker also hopes that more actors take up the roles of queer people on screen. "The onus should be on people of positions of social identity - actors, businessmen, media, etc to open and come out, and become inspirations for others," he added.
"When Dutee Chand came out, people looked at her and felt that she's a national star, and she's open about her identity, and loved and still represents India. We can also be the same."
Onir, however, feels that there is a long way to go. "The conversation hasn't really changed in Bollywood. People were not homophobic because of the law. They were homophobic because of society, their upbringing and the respect they have to accept others. For people to accept same-sex love will take a long time."
In a year though, Onir feels that freedom to feel empowered is more. "It's hope. It's a long journey ahead, and one step at a time, but its hope to other people in parts of the world where its still criminalized, that they too, can be themselves without being afraid."