We need a little more than love.
— Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud

2023 was a year of could'ves and should'ves for the queer community in India. As an ally, it was disappointing to witness the Supreme Court deny LGBTQ+ individuals the right to marry, form civil unions, and adopt. This was undeniably a missed opportunity for our judiciary to nudge our legislature into action and empower every queer individual in the nation. However, in this vacuum of justice it was heartening to see private institutions and civil society emerge as stronger allies. In this context, our efforts to curate this cohort met with several challenges but I believe we were ultimately able to spotlight remarkable humans leading interesting lives. If you'd like to support our DEI programming efforts, please reach out to me.

Sartaj Anand, Founder of egomonk

The Cohort of 2023

Vaishali Kannan

Vaishali Kannan - Salesforce

Vaishali Kannan is a dynamic author and a dedicated advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights. Her memoir, "Homeless: Growing Up Lesbian and Dyslexic in India,"  sheds light on her remarkable journey.  In addition to her literary achievements, Vaishali is a valued member of the tech industry, contributing her expertise at Salesforce. She leads the LGBTQIA+ Business Resource Group for the JAPAC region, fostering inclusivity within the company. As the host of the podcast "Queerious Connections," Vaishali amplifies queer voices and stories.

Subhashish Bhadra

Subhashish Bhadra - Klub

Subhashish Bhadra is an economist, policy professional, startup leader, and author of Caged Tiger: How Too Much Government is Holding Indians Back, a book that sheds light on the problems facing Indian institutions and the hindrances they create for the people they are meant to serve. His diverse career reflects a pragmatic and insightful approach that has significantly contributed to both corporate landscapes and societal discussions in India.

Anwesh Sahoo

Anwesh Sahoo - Effeminare

Anwesh Kumar Sahoo is a queer engineer, visual designer, and digital and technical artist. The youngest recipient of the Mr. Gay World India title, Anwesh is also the first Indian recipient of the prestigious Troy Perry Award. Anwesh is also the creative force behind the blog Effeminare, a platform through which he aims to combat homophobia and bring attention to the pressing issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in India.

Swetha Harikrishnan

Swetha Harikrishnan - HackerEarth

With a robust background spanning more than a decade in the realm of Human Resources, Swetha Harikrishnan currently holds the position of HR Director at HackerEarth. Her professional trajectory is deeply rooted in a fervent commitment to authenticity, a principle she views as pivotal for both individual development and collective progress. Swetha, in her unassuming yet resolute manner, rejects the inclination to pigeonhole individuals, finding solace in the exploration of the intricate nuances that render each person distinct.

Rohin Bhatt

Rohin Bhatt - Advocate

Rohin Bhatt (he/they) is a passionate advocate, lawyer, and queer rights activist. Currently working with the Chambers of Ms. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Rohin also co-founded the Indian Bioethics Project at Gujarat National Law University. Their unwavering commitment to intersectional solidarity fuels their fight against fascism and patriarchy in India, addressing issues ranging from caste dynamics to state-sponsored violence, feminism, queerness, and survival needs.

Vaivab Das

Vaivab Das - IIT Delhi

Vaivab Das is a Senior Research Fellow at IIT Delhi and an incoming Fulbright Nehru Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Apart from researching transgender rights and LGBTQ+ policies in India, they actively engage in community-based organizing work to raise awareness about civil rights and equality in India. Their contributions include providing research and paralegal aid in legal cases to improve legal protection and equal opportunities for transgender persons, as well as participating in research projects on gender and education, gender-based violence, and law and representation.

Veena Sethuraman

Veena Sethuraman - InMobi

Veena Sethuraman is a Learning and Leadership Development Specialist with a deep-rooted passion for psychotherapy. She is also a Design Thinking coach who works with internal and external clients to help them identify the right problem or opportunity in their business landscape. She also supports teams to innovate and bring in meaningful solutions. She actively advocates for mental health awareness and is a published author known for her book titled A Pinch of Hope in the Bowl of Life.

Gurnoor Kaul Behl

Gurnoor Kaur Behl - House Of GKB & Delhi Queer Spaces

Gurnoor Kaur Behl, a seasoned professional, represents the intersectionality of being a queer woman with a disability. With expertise in curating online personal brands, social media strategy, and professional speaking, Behl has left an indelible mark in her field. As the founder of House Of GKB and co-founder of Delhi Queer Space, she is dedicated to fostering creativity and advocacy within the LGBTQ+ community. Behl's dynamic presence and commitment to inclusivity define her impactful contributions to both the digital landscape and community building.


Nu - Revival Disability India

Nu is a trans-disabled non-binary person and the founder of UN-recognized Revival Disability India. Their work revolves around technology and creating safer digital spaces for queer and disabled folks. A disability justice author and curator, they have collaborated with several spaces that claim disabled joy, rage, rest, and movement. They won the Ladli Award in 2022 for their writing on disability-based queer violence and are a published author with Penguin Random House.

Ketan Bajaj

Ketan Bajaj - Swiss Re

Ketan Bajaj is a Nat Cat specialist at Swiss Re, a reinsurance company. He also holds a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering from the Indian Institute of Sciences, and his doctoral research focused on the development of response spectra for deep and shallow basins in the Indian subcontinent. He also runs a webzine called The Sanskari Gay with his partner.

Sukhdeep Singh

Sukhdeep Singh - Gaylaxy

Sukhdeep Singh is an accomplished software engineer,  writer, and human rights advocate. He is the founder and editor of Gaylaxy, an e-magazine founded in 2010 that provides a platform to the LGBTQ community in South Asia. Sukhdeep has also directed Sab Rab De Bande, a short documentary featuring stories of Sikh queer individuals in India.

Shyam Konnur

Shyam Konnur - Mist LGBTQ Foundation

The winner of Mr. Gay India 2020, Shyam Konnur, is a queer and human rights activist. He is the founder and director of the Mist LGBTQ Foundation. He's also the State Coordinator of the All India Professional Congress Maharashtra Committee for LGBTQIA+ Affairs. In addition to his activism, Shyam is a firm believer in the power of storytelling and has used his own experiences to connect with others and foster a sense of community.

R Balaji

R Balaji - Elements Mediaworks

Specializing in influencer marketing, R Balaji, also known as Bala, has a rich background in digital marketing spanning eight years. She is also a TEDx and motivational speaker actively championing gender fluidity. Her advocacy work has been recognized by reputable publications such as The Logical Indian, The Quint, and the 'Out and Proud' section of the Times of India.

Swayambhu Soham

Swayambhu Soham - Pampapathi Pet Hospital

Swayambhu Soham is a Bangalore-based professional with 15 years of IT industry experience at IBM and Kyndryl. Currently working at the Pampapathi Multi Speciality Pet Hospital, Swayambhu is not just an IT expert, but also a creative artist and a passionate advocate for community animal welfare and CSR volunteering.

Richa Vashista

Richa Vashista - Integrative Psychotherapist

Richa Vashista, an integrative psychologist, has forged a distinguished career spanning over nine years, working across both public and private sectors. Their expertise lies in providing therapy for South Asian clients globally, including both monogamous and polyamorous individuals. With a queer-affirmative, neurodiverse, and social justice-centered approach, Richa is trying to reshape the mental health ecosystem.

Praful Baweja

Praful Baweja - 6 Degrees Diversity Counsel

Praful Baweja is an award-winning business storyteller and the founder of 6 Degrees Diversity Counsel, an innovative forum that creates solutions for people of all abilities, genders, origins, ages, and sexualities. With over 2 decades of experience, Praful has worked with firms like Times of India, Wizcraft, & Ticketplease and has trained teams at Uber, Piramal Pharma, PhonePe, and Northern Trust, among many other leading organizations. Through his work, he actively strives to create diverse, equitable & inclusive spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Priya Babu

Priya Babu - Swasti Health Catalyst

Priya Babu is a writer, director, and social activist. She is also the Regional Impact Officer at Swasti Health Catalyst. Through initiatives like the Transgender Resource Center and the Trans Kitchen, she is advocating for and creating awareness about the transgender community. Priya is also a prolific author, with many of her works incorporated into the syllabus of several schools and colleges. Priya also started the first transgender theatre group in India and has directed over 100 plays. She recently directed a film called Arikandi and continues to work through many creative outlets for the betterment of transgender and other marginalized communities.

Umang Sheth

Umang Sheth - Mr n Mr

Umang Sheth is an aspiring public speaker and advocate for social change. He has spearheaded initiatives like Gay Bombay and The Hugging Club of India to promote queer inclusivity and destigmatize mental health issues. Despite a difficult childhood, Umang chose not to be a victim and instead works tirelessly to empower people to talk freely about their sexuality and mental health issues and overcome the shame, guilt, or stigma associated with it. He firmly believes that the world will be a better place if one can find a way to live authentically without getting affected by what society has to say and his journey is a testament to that.

Kinza Jamal

Kinza Jamal - YP Foundation

Kinza Jamal is an intersectional feminist, certified social worker, painter, and writer, focusing on crucial issues, including combatting gender-based violence, championing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and emphasizing mental health and well-being. Currently working at the YP Foundation, Kinza actively promotes a young, feminist, and rights-based approach within the organization and its processes.

Rituparna Neog

Rituparna Neog - Akam Foundation

Rituparna Neog is the Founder & Director of the Akam Foundation, Associate Vice Chairperson of the Assam Govt’s State Transgender Welfare Board, a free library advocate, and queer intersectional feminist, actively working towards gender justice and education. She is passionate about storytelling and library work and has been advocating for a free public library system in India as part of the Free Libraries Network.

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