Celina Jaitley is Bollywood’s poster girl for gay rights. The former Miss India has held placards in public for the aggrieved community, joined protests and marched with them, vocally lending her name and time.
And Thursday’s Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality was as much a moral victory for her as it was personal—it was also a tribute to her first boyfriend, who was gay and died in tragic circumstances, destroyed by the stigma attached to his sexual preference.
The landmark judgment, says the No Entry star, has undoubtedly pleased her. But she also feels that the real battle of garnering social acceptability for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community will be a long one.
“The journey has just begun. We have to work on getting social acceptability, counseling and other rights. We’re working with the United Nations to come up with an NGO that will help fund the lower-middle class people of the LGBT community who are really marginalised and can’t even avail basic benefits,” says the 29-year-old actor. But Jaitley’s own journey down what was a rough and complex path began when she was a teenager. It all started in Kolkata when a 16-year-old Jaitley met a good-looking man—whose name she wants to keep private—at a party and it was love at first sight. “He was a mature guy, about 13 years my senior and I fell totally in love with him,” she recalls.
They started spending time together and Jaitley became completely besotted by her boyfriend. “He was a perfect gentleman, very jovial and we really bonded well. Since I came from a protective Army family, I didn’t notice anything amiss in our relationship.”