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Economic Liberalization and the Empowerment of Gays and Lesbians in India

Digital Commons @ Connecticut College
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  • Homosexuality
  • India
  • Economic Conditions
  • Gays
  • Lesbians
  • Economics
  • Social Sciences


Economic liberalization in India has transformed Indian gay identity. The information revolution and expansion of employment in high-paying jobs have brought about significant changes in the economic independence of the youth in urban parts of the country. Improved economic opportunity strengthens the fall-back position of many young gays and lesbians, in so far as they are better equipped to locate their sexuality within the Indian context. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, I hypothesize that economic liberalization has contrasting effects on the autonomy, freedom and bargaining power of middle class gays and lesbian young adults. I contribute to the research on inter-generational and intra-family bargaining relations; I posit that adult children negotiate with their parents over their adherence to social norms concerning gender roles. My quantitative and qualitative evidence suggests that the empowerment of gay and lesbian youth in India is strongly associated to their access to networks of support. The process of negotiating sexuality in public and private spaces ultimately influences their willingness to be engaged in social change and policy formation.

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