24-year-old Anusha Raichur studied journalism but always knew that she was an artist at heart. When she quit her job last March and looked around, she found too many people being forced into being who they weren’t.
“I have many friends who belong to the LGBT community. So many of them are hurt by the baseless prejudices people nurse against them. I had to do something about it,” Anusha says.
So on August 10 this year, the Bengaluru-based freelance graphic designer began a project – ‘LGBT – An Illustrated Blueprint’ – which features spunky and colourful illustrations around the theme to get people talking about the issues that people in the community face. The artwork is available on her Instagram page.
Image: LGBT - An Illustrated Blueprint
The inspiration for the project was around Anusha all along. “My best friend is gay and I’ve seen her suffer because she was so afraid of coming out. Another male friend of mine identifies as a woman. People just don’t understand what that’s like,” she says.
But within the LGBTQ spectrum, Anusha is most drawn to the plight of the transgender community. Her interactions with them when she studied journalism in Chennai were an eye-opening experience.
According to Anusha, the most pertinent problem that transgender individuals face is finding employment. “Many of them are interested in grooming and make-up and are so talented. But no one is willing to employ them. So they take to the streets. They touch people the way they do because they know they will get money. This is what we’ve done to them,” observes Anusha.
Apart from employment, the transgender community also has trouble finding housing and healthcare services Anusha notes.
But from the LGBT spectrum, Anusha opines that it is the bisexual community which is one of the least understood. “I have two friends who are attracted to both men and women. People actually ask them how it’s possible and assume that they are only interested in threesomes - with a man and a woman at the same time,” she says.
In Anusha’s experience, women are more open to alternate sexualities, especially compared to how heterosexual men behave around gay men. She recounts how one of her straight male friends freaked out when a gay friend complimented him on his attire. “He forgot that they (homosexual people) are also human beings, and that they could be nice - genuinely paying you a compliment without hitting on you,” she points out.
With her project, Anusha hopes to remove the stigma and misconceptions associated with the LGBT community. And while she doesn’t have expertise or qualifications in the field, she relies completely on her personal drive to take her project forward. “We need to have a more fluid understanding of gender and sexuality rather than trying to fit people into structures,” she insists.
She intends to do a Part 2 and 3 as well. While the second leg will be a more in-depth, real-life photography-cum-illustration project, she is yet to fix a theme for the third. However, Anusha is sure that she doesn’t want to limit her work on the issues to this project alone. This is why Anusha is also looking for opportunities to create merchandise along the same theme.
“I want to make this bigger, so that it grabs more attention and more people talk about it. Hopefully, one day, there will be no such thing as ‘coming out’,” Anusha says.