India’s lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) community currently has a strong representation in that country’s media landscape. Q Radio is the first radio station in India targeted primarily at the LGTB community. It was launched in Bangalore on September 11, 2013. Q Radio which goes by the slogan “out and proud” is a channel which is managed by radiowalla.in, an online portal which runs more than 35 radio channels. This station operates round the clock to keep listeners busy.
A bit of the station’s history reveals that Anil Srivatsa, the CEO and co-founder of Radiowalla, started Q Radio after a talk show “Between the Sheets” he hosted in 2010 for the LGBT got excellent response. “One of the main objectives of Radiowalla.in, as a platform, is to cater to special interestsof a population not being addressed by mainstream media adequately and that of inclusion of all through the diverse channels offered on this radio platform. I believe that the Gay and Lesbian population can benefit from a space of their own,” Srivatsa said on Facebook page
“This community has style, they are upwardly mobile, they are coming out to show the nation that they belong and have to be accepted and it is about time they get a voice of their own in the national discourse. I am delighted at this decision to have their participation as part of our offering.”
One of the basic goals of Q Radio is to draw attention of the listeners from outside the LGBT community in order to help and understand about the LGBT community. The channel offers shows throughout the week in English and Hindi.
The funding of the channel comes from individuals through subscriptions, grants from NGOs and corporations.
One of the major challenges faced by the Q Radio is the fact that India is among nations in the World that have a law banning homosexuality. This makes it difficult for young gay, lesbian, and transgender Indians who make up the bulk of Q Radio listeners to identify themselves as such.
This is a major challenge to the staff of Q Radio especially when discussing an issue such as coming out of the closet. They could risk prosecution for this. But the staff of the station are still doing the much they can to discuss matters that affect the gay community. For instance, in the day the Supreme Court in India ruled that Section 377 of the country’s Penal Code which bans homosexuality was constitutional and can only be overturned by an Parliament, Q Radio had series of discussions on whether the state had the right to pry into the sex lives of indidual citizens.
To this challenge, Srivatsa said the station’s staff do not have intentions of censuring themselves but to operate within their rights to talk about the LGBT community. Though the existence of Q Radio might be in danger, some observers see it as a platform to lobby against the Penal Code which bans homosexuality in India. Despite the promise of anonymity by the radio station, some members of LGBT in India still find it difficult to come to the studio and speak freely.
These challenges not withstanding, the LGBT community in India is strongly represented in the airwaves by the Q Radio station.