Dutee Chand, 100m record holder and winner of two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, has put a foot in the door of the Indian sporting locker room and prized it open. For the queer community, the Odisha athlete's and champion sprinter's recent coming out as gay is celebratory soup for the soul, or in this case, sole. The Dutee Chand drama is being played out in full public view as her family has opposed her relationship with a girl, but Dutee has dug in her fleet foot heels and insisted she is doing nothing wrong.
While there is some grey area swirling around the girl-loves-girl case, with the athlete's family saying that Dutee's partner is a relative and gold digger, the bigger picture is that Indian sport's 'coming out' has taken off from the starting blocks. Mumbai filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan, who is gay, said, "It takes courage to come out, and when one is in the public eye, the stakes are higher. The famous, besides battling all those fears about ostracism and stereotyping, have to also confront a loss of status that at times accompanies coming out."
More Power To Dutee
Rangayan said that the spotlight should remain on Dutee's sporting performances, and "her sexuality as an out lesbian should not be the only aspect that defines her. It will also be interesting to see if corporates support her when it comes to endorsements." In the end, though for Rangayan, "The applause must ring out for Dutee. It takes one individual to break the barrier, and I would compare this to Ashok Row Kavi. Mumbai's trailblazing gay activist came out so many years ago. Somebody starts a movement, and that ripple becomes a wave, which eventually swells into a tide.