Meet Pawan Kumar, A Social Media Star Who's Redefining Being Proud Out Loud Both Online And Off

Rachna Khaira
In this photograph posted in June on Facebook, Pawan wrote 'Dun Blame A Clown For Acting Lyk A Clown, Ask Urslf Why U Keep Goin To The Circus'.

CHANDIGARH — At the beginning of the 42-minute video he streamed live on Facebook last week, Pawan Kumar looks a little uncertain. Then he seems to come to a decision and begins, “Bhai, kisko lagta hai mujhe change hona chahiye? Anyone who thinks I need to change?”

“Why should I change myself and try to be what I am not?” he said in a conversation with HuffPost India. “My wardrobe, hairstyle or my language do not hurt anyone’s sentiments or cause communal violence or embarrassment to others.” 

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Kumar’s social media presence — particularly his videos on TikTok and Facebook — offers a glimpse into the tensions that continue to animate the lives of India’s LGBTQ community. 

On the one hand, the legalisation of consensual same-sex relationships has meant that people like Kumar — who identifies as queer —  can now speak of their lives and struggles without fear of violent reprisal or arrest. On the other hand, as Kumar’s Facebook video reveals, LGBTQ people continue to attract a disproportionate amount of online backlash.

But Kumar, who works as a business analyst and voice modulation trainer at a telecommunication company in Gurgaon, says he will not stop posting videos; his purpose in life is to bring happiness to others.

“I post videos and pictures on my social media handles not to gain publicity but to spread smiles and happiness with my little acts of stupidly. I love to travel across the globe. Though I wanted to be a flight stewardess, I could not get through. Now I work  for the whole year, accumulate my leaves and save money to fund my foreign trips every year,” Kumar told HuffPost India

Kumar’s videos on TikTok, where he has more than 66,000 followers, are infectious in their excitement. In many of them, he’s lip-syncing and dancing to Bollywood songs, often the woman’s lines. He also posts videos of himself...

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