In a few weeks, we’ll be coming up on the one year anniversary of the reinstatement of India’s anti-gay law. I wrote a longread about it here.
The law, like anti-gay laws across the world, is basically bad business. For example, Mumbai’s only gay fashion boutique was forced to shut its door because of this law. The Guardian‘s Arunima Rajan reports:
Entrepreneur Inder Vhatwar – who worked his way up from the Golibar slum to found D’kloset as ‘India’s first PINK retail for men’ – says he and his customers now live in fear of being targeted by Hindu extremist groups.
Vhatwar says his currently landlord has refused to renew his lease on the store, and he has already been turned down by two potential landlords. “They clearly told me that they didn’t want any issues at the store, because Section 377 made us criminals”, he said.
So not only do you have an impressively self-made man who now finds his livelihood endangered, but you have a landlord discriminating against who can and cannot retail space, and you have religious extremist groups that are dictating what kind of clothes people can wear.
Actor Stephen Fry confesses how Vhatwar’s boutique D’Kloset adds a touch of Soho to Bandra:
Bandra seems to be the Soho of Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/IMYiIXFykm
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) March 1, 2013
Vhatwar does have a Plan B–he’s been selling directly out of his apartment. It’s here that we can hope that a charitable coder might offer his services and let Vhatwar set up an e-commerce front for his wares.
Even the stoniest journalist should find inspiration in Vhatwar’s up-from-his-bootstraps narrative:
“Looking back at the start of my life in Golibar, it’s painful to realise that I never really had a childhood,” said Vhatwar. “My father died when I was three years old, and my earliest memories were of my mother struggling to bring up three children in a slum where even clean water was considered a luxury. My passion has enabled the entire family to come out of the slum and stay in a better locality.”
Rohin Guha is an editor at The Aerogram. Talk to him on Twitter, if you’d like.