On September 6, a historic victory left India bathed in rainbows when the country's Supreme Court finally overturned an archaic British-era law that pronounced gay sex illegal. While even same sex marriage has been recognized in the United Kingdom for a number of years at this point, homosexuality remained illegal and a crime in India where the colonial era law still stood.

Following the verdict, Indian stylist Kshitij Kankaria and photographer Ashish Shah decided to shoot a series of brave members of the Indian LGBTQIA community.

In a country where nudity is neither commonplace nor commodity, the act of stripping publicly is often a political one — the same way the act of kissing, of hand holding, of laying in bed together has been political for the community we see here. Their nakedness, one needn't really point out, is a triumph — a dare, and a declaration of freedom.

The shoot marks their bodies as proudly part of the country, rather than of just one community. Here they stand strong, and look to the future, face their fears even in the wake of this judgement, question, and begin to dream bigger. India might have been hiding her LGBTQIA community, but the queer Indian community has not been bothered about hiding. Even if in the shadows, it has thrived — and here, they celebrate with pride.

Below, meet eight queer Indians, who reflect on what their country's gay decriminalization means to them.

Arnav Thadani

"Empathy is one thing and any marginalized group deserves it, but no group has had to fight this hard to simply be recognized as legal. The overturning of 377 is simply better for democracy." – Arnav Thadani

Photography: Ashish Shah
Styling: Kshitij Kankaria
Hair & Makeup: Saher Ahmed Gandhi
Photography Assistant: Shubham Lodha
Fashion Assistants: Ruhani Singh & Nayanika Kapoor

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