The Supreme Court on May 11 reserved its verdict on the batch of petitions seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages after a hearing that lasted 10 days. The court is now on its summer vacation and will resume hearing the case when it reopens on July 3. In the interim, when brands (even the ones who claimed to be queer inclusive) have been quiet on this matter, Dunzo came out and in support of same-sex marriage.
In a LinkedIn post, the delivery service provider said, “Society progresses when laws progress. Legal backing of homosexual marriage gives the community all the rights it deserves—from insurance nominations to legal inheritance, child adoption, buying a home, etc. Here's hoping that the Supreme Court legalises same-sex marriage in India.” #samesexmarriage #queercommunity #humanrights #queerpride
Back in March, Storyboard18 reported how queer influencers wanted brands to redefine Pride Month engagement and be true allies and advocates instead of employing opportunistic marketing tactics aka rainbowwashing during Pride Month.
“I have been getting a lot of requests from corporates for speaking during Pride Month. (Firstly, why do you wake up only during Pride Month, I swear, we are queer all 365 days of the year. Be intentional about this, we are not your decorative items,),” Harish he/she, head, diversity and inclusion, Axis Bank, said in a LinkedIn post, calling out corporates for rainbowwashing.
"With our Make Room for More Pride campaign, we wanted to amplify the ongoing conversation surrounding inclusivity and celebrate diversity throughout the year, extending beyond the traditional Pride Month in June," Tanveer Khan, Dunzo
On its part, Dunzo seems to be not just promoting same-sex marriage on socials but also incorporating inclusive policies. Considering the legal and ethical imperatives to support LGBTQIA+ rights in India, Dunzo has insurance for same-sex partners, POSH or guidelines against sexual harassment for all genders, and inclusive mental health services. It is not alone. The India Workplace Equality Index Top Employers 2022 Report revealed that brands like MasterCard, Novartis, Microsoft, HSBC, Barclays, Myntra, Uber and TCS had significant achievements in promoting LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace, demonstrating progress and impact over time.
“With our Make Room for More Pride campaign, we wanted to amplify the ongoing conversation surrounding inclusivity and celebrate diversity throughout the year, extending beyond the traditional Pride Month in June,” says Tanveer Khan, general manager, marketing and branding, Dunzo.
Dunzo’s campaign served as a reminder that the conversation, celebration and discussion surrounding pride, inclusiveness and togetherness should continue year-round.
With the addition of the two LGBTQIA queer mascots Careline Ringaraj (she/her) from Chennai and Jusmeet (they/them) from Jalandhar, Dunzo’s intention is to promote inclusiveness, widen its horizons to include all sections of our society as equals and celebrate all colours of the rainbow with equal vigour.
"Equity and equality have been core to our business from the beginning and remain central to our work moving forward. We do not view anyone any different when we work with talent and believe in equal opportunities including equal pay," Samarpita Samaddar, Bumble
Bumble, which runs the eponymous dating app, too has incorporated inclusive policies like a minimum six months’ paid leave for caregivers of all genders for birth, adoption or surrogacy of a child, minimum 12 weeks per calendar year paid time off to care for a family member and a minimum 20 days of paid leave for victims of domestic violence or other violent crimes.
“Our diverse group of employees come from various backgrounds and roles, united in creating a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable. We constantly strive to work towards building an inclusive and kind workplace where we are respectful of other people’s beliefs, interests and identities,” says Samarpita Samaddar, Bcommunications director, India and Southeast Asia, Bumble.
Bumble has been working with diverse talent from LGBTQ+ communities from different backgrounds such as Anwesh Sahoo, Glorious Luna and Sushant Divgikar, to name a few, for various outreach programmes in India.
“It’s important we listen and together do collaborative meaningful work—it’s been a pleasure working with such incredible talent over the years! Equity and equality have been core to our business from the beginning and remain central to our work moving forward. We do not view anyone any different when we work with talent and believe in equal opportunities including equal pay. We constantly strive and will continue to work towards being inclusive not just in our workplace but in all our efforts to help create a safer and equitable future,” says Samaddar.
Suta, an ethnic wear brand seems to also believe that collaborating with queer influencers will lead to greater visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community. For Pride 2023, they came out with their in-house campaign ‘This Is Me’ in collaboration with drag artistes. Check out the campaign below.
Then there is Tinder, the first dating app in 2016 to empower its members to identify themselves beyond the binary by introducing the More Genders feature. In India, this feature was built in partnership with Humsafar Trust and LGBTQ author and inclusion advocate Parmesh Shahani to add gender orientations including indigenous identities.
“LGBTQIA+ members are now the fastest growing group on Tinder, and members aged 18-25 that identify as LGBTQIA+ on Tinder have more than doubled in the last two years,” says Anukool Kumar, head of marketing, Tinder India.
During the pandemic, Tinder launched the Pride from Home campaign in collaboration with electronic music producer Ritviz and production house Jugaad Motion Pictures to create Raahi, a Pride anthem and music video to celebrate LGBTQIA+ identities and Pride at Home.
“At a time when the world’s largest and most important Pride events were postponed, in the absence of IRL (in real life) pride meetups and when and everything felt different, we wanted to continue rallying social solidarity, albeit from home. The music video garnered over 9.1 million views on YouTube and 1.49 million views on Instagram,” says Kumar.
"At a time when the world’s largest and most important Pride events were postponed, in the absence of IRL (in real life) pride meetups and when and everything felt different, we wanted to continue rallying social solidarity, albeit from home," Anukool Kumar, Tinder India
In 2020, Tinder launched the Museum of Queer Swipe Stories, a curated archival project in partnership with Gaysi Family—a platform for “Gay Desis”, as it describes itself—that seeks to collect the many moods, experiences and complexities of queer dating. Tinder has now collected over 250 queer swipe stories on the page. Last year, Tinder launched LetsTalkGender.in, a guide and glossary developed in partnership with Gaysi Family, encouraging conversations about ways in which individuals identify and express their gender, held insightful conversations with influencers like Daniella Mendonca, social worker and gender rights activist, and Rayyan Monkey, co-chieftess at The Fatsmeagol Collective, a Mumbai-based marketing agency.
But dating apps created by Indians for Indians paint a sorry picture on the inclusivity front. Aisle, an Indian dating app that claims to be unique by focusing on meaningful connections instead of casual dating, seems to be only emphasising on heterosexual dynamics. Storyboard18 had reached out to Aisle to know why they haven’t created a space for the LGBTQIA community in both Aisle and Jalebi (specially built for GenZ) but Aisle refused to comment.
Similarly, dating app TrulyMadlyDeeply founded by MakeMyTrip’s Sachin Bhatia, which set out to be a game changer, seems to be focused on the male-female dynamic only.
Delta, India’s first homegrown LGBTQ+ dating and community app, created by Ishaan Sethi, a media and marketing professional, and apparently backed by TrulyMadly’s Bhatia, launched in 2017 wanted to be different from its international peer Grindr and provide authentic meaningful experiences in a hypersexualised environment. But the app barely lasted two years and is currently inactive.
Storyboard18 had reached out to other brands like WeWork, Roposo and FixDerma that claim to be inclusive but initially all three brands declined to comment on LGBTQIA+ representation in their brands, again raising the question of whether certain brands claiming to be LGBTQIA-inclusive are actually being performative and not being active in initiating meaningful actions and promoting authentic inclusivity and equity.
It is to be noted that after seeing the story, WeWork came forward with a clarification. Megha Agarwal, Head of Brand and Marketing at WeWork India said, ""At WeWork India we are committed to fostering inclusivity in all our spaces. In line with this commitment, we have implemented industry first policies that prioritise diversity and inclusion. These initiatives include providing health insurance coverage to partners of all LGBTQIA+ employees, extending maternity leave benefits to LGBTQIA+ parents, and establishing gender-neutral washrooms."
Agarwal added, "To ensure that our brand represents our diverse member base, we collaborated with our community members for our recent brand campaign 'Great Inspires Great'. This campaign places diversity and inclusivity at its core and celebrates the unique contributions of every individual."
According to Agarwal, WeWork actively supports various empowerment initiatives for the LGBTQIA+ community. One such initiative is the Pride Cafe, a food truck situated at WeWork Galaxy. The Pride Cafe not only offers employment opportunities but also increases visibility for the individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community.