In the late 1990s I had to request and coax parents to come and speak at the annual Gay Bombay Parents Meet. I could only find a handful and they were the regulars. However, Shobha Doshi needed no invitation or cajoling.

One fine day, I found a mail in my inbox. Shobha Doshi wanted to attend the upcoming Gay Bombay Parents Meet. I was absolutely thrilled – here is a mother whose son is in the US and she wants to attend the parents meet in Mumbai on her own. Wow!

The story goes thus… her son Shameet came out to her on a call from the US. It took her only 5 minutes to accept her son. And then she took a flight to meet her son and his better half. And then she did the incredible: She gathered all her close family and friends and announced that her son was gay. She made it amply clear that she fully supported him and his sexuality.

She came and spoke her heart and mind at her first parents’ meet. And she made us laugh, cry and most importantly made us feel proud of our sexuality – once again. And there was no looking back for her as well as Gay Bombay Parents’ Support Group. We were absolutely delighted to find a mother who was eager to lead the Indian PFLAG from the front.

Shobha Doshi at Gay Bombay’s Parents Meet (Picture credit: Raj Pandey / QGraphy)

As far as I know, she was the first activist parent supporting her son’s sexuality and opposing Sec 377. She was game for everything and anything to remove stigma and bring awareness and acceptance. So she did interviews on TV at the release of the movie Dostana, featured in articles of leading newspapers, and interviewed with journalists at Pride Marches.

In the last 15 years, she broke all the misconceptions that homosexuality is a western phenomenon and that Indian mothers/families would never accept it. I would call her regularly requesting her to talk to a son who wants to come out to his parents or counsel parents who had just found out that their son was gay. And she was more than happy to help. Always.

She wanted homosexuality to be decriminalized in India ASAP. She wanted her son and other gay people to stop living under the fear of Sec 377. No wonder, she filed a petition against Section 377 in the Court. And she cried buckets after the Supreme Court overturned a high court verdict and criminalized homosexuality again.

(Picture credit: Raj Pandey / QGraphy)

Shobha Doshi was unstoppable and fiercely fought whatever that came her way. Be it cancer or non-acceptance of her son’s sexuality. As a cancer survivor, she reached out to many people through NGOs and self-help groups. And as a mother of a gay son, she championed rights for gays and broke all the notions about homosexuality threatening Indian family values and moral fabric.

Sporting, daring loving, caring she left nothing unturned to bring awareness and respect for the gay community. To increase social and family acceptance. And to calm concerns of parents and wipe out their kids’ fears. Her untimely death is a big blow to the gay community and its fight against Sec 377.

Umang Sheth