On 17 October 2017, a post on the popular Humans of Bombay Facebook page began to garner a fair bit of attention. It highlighted the story of a young man (whose portrait was presented alongside), who had navigated the realities of being gay while growing up in Bihar and Shimla. Two-and-a-half years ago, after a break with his family on account of his sexuality, the youth came to Mumbai. The city was where he could live as an openly gay man, but it was also where he was assaulted by an inebriated man on the street. Labelling it #MeToo, the man detailed his experiences of getting his attacker arrested, wondering — was basic humanity too much to ask for?
The post ended with this message:
"The LGBT community, needs our support now more than ever. Every day, there’s a new case of hate crime against them, and we need to show more love towards them. To enable this, an app called Delta is being developed — it’s India’s FIRST homegrown LGBT community, networking and support app. Its aim is to address these challenges by bringing the LGBT community in India together. It’s a safe environment, where they can finally just…be."
'Delta', as mentioned in the Humans of Bombay post, is a homegrown app, for and by the LGBT community, that specifically addresses the challenges within the Indian context.
It started off as a conversation between Sachin Bhatia, the founder of dating app Truly Madly, and Ishaan Sethi: An increasing number of people from the LGBT community had reached out to Bhatia about the possibility of a similar platform being created for their use; Sethi (who identifies with the community and had returned to India from the US) realised that there was a very real gap within the LGBTQ ecosystem, in the form of lack of community features as well as limited/non-existent access to support/resources.
"We wanted to create a safe, secure and verified platform for users and provide increased access to community and support features that are incredibly rare to come across otherwise," Sethi told Firstpost, of how Delta came to be. "Community and support features are largely missing from the LGBTQ landscape in India. The features on Delta address some key issues specific to the Indian context, especially in non-metros."
Briefly, this is how Delta addresses issues faced by those who identify as LGBTQ, and by allies:
1. Meet real people on a secure platform: concerns around safety, profile authenticity and myriad other reasons makes meeting like-minded people from the LGBT community in India rather difficult. When you create an account on Delta, a verification engine checks the details that you enter for any inconsistencies or potential "red flags". Once these checks are passed, users are approved into the community.
2. Community: a lack of safe spaces both offline and online have created fragmented and isolated LGBT communities, especially in non-metros. Specific features are aimed at creating safe environments for users to share content, discuss views, form interest groups and engage in discussions. It will also power The Delta Network — offline spaces, venues, restaurants, businesses and other entities that are LGBT friendly and inclusive.
3. Support and Resources: Delta will leverage location-based data to help people find their closest LGBT-friendly therapists, legal aid, healthcare etc. Additional features include online support, counselling, coming out queries, sexual awareness and health, legal frameworks and other resources that can positively impact members of the community.
Community features give members of the LGBTQ community and allies the ability to engage with each other in meaningful ways,while the support features provide people with access to information, location-based listings (say for instance, their nearest LGBT friendly legal aid, healthcare providers) and eventually, in-app peer-to-peer support and professional counselling.
"The app will enable users who may be hundreds of miles apart to connect with each other," said Sethi. "The LGBTQ community in India has been rather fragmented wherein some cities have large groups and presences, which dwindles as one reaches smaller towns/cities. Technology allows us to reach out to any user, regardless of their physical location, and provide them with what they need to empower themselves."
Sethi believes that Delta, by connecting the community, will create tangible benefits. "Rates of queer youth suicides have skyrocketed over the last few years; a predominant reason for the same has been bullying and feeling isolated. An app like Delta will allow users to find a community of peers and mentors," he said, adding, "Our hope is that Delta will help drive inclusion for the LGBTQ community in India and give an otherwise marginalised group the ability to organise itself and (its) allies to drive change."
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Updated Date: Nov 04, 2017 11:07:00 IST