India’s wedding magazine divided readers after making the bold decision to put a dress-clad non-binary model on its April cover.
Brides Today, an English-language magazine, has shared three digital covers featuring non-binary non-binary activist and comedian Alok Vaid-Menon wearing various gowns on Instagram.
The post, which belongs to the India Today news group, shared on their social media that they had released the cover ‘in support of the right to love and dignity for all’.
Meanwhile, Alok promoted the cover on their Instagram account with quotes from their interview with the magazine.
It comes as India’s Supreme Court prepares to rule on marriage equality for India’s LGBTQ+ community.
Indian wedding magazine Brides Today, which belongs to the India Today news group, has taken a stand for marriage equality by having non-binary activist and comedian Alok Vaid-Menon on three different digital covers shared on Instagram.
While many readers were supportive of Alok’s covers, others accused them of invading women’s spaces and called Brides of the Day “ridiculous.”
One of the three covers shows Alok wearing a golden gown with a plunging neckline that shows off his hairy chest.
The bearded activist wears a bold red lip and eyeliner along with lavish bridal jewelry on his forearms and lower chest.
On the second cover, the comedian poses in a draped mint green sari that shows off a midriff, a golden hairpiece adorned with multicolored jewels, and a row of signature rings.
The third cover shows them rocking a half blue and gold lehenga, a choker and a floral hairpiece.
In the cover interview, the activist, who admitted they were bullied because of their identity, said they hoped for more inclusive spaces in India.
I wish I could walk down the street — and be in public — without fear of being attacked.
They said, “I wish I could post a picture of myself online without being inundated with hate mail.”
Alok added that they believe that everyone deserves love and that relationships should not be serialized based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This case is crucial,” the activist said of the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.
Another cover shows Alok wearing a blue and gold half lehenga with a necklace and a long floral hairpiece
The activist also donned a polished green sari and jewels on a third digital cover shared by Brides Today
They added that “the refusal to legally recognize same-sex marriage is a form of institutionalized discrimination that must be addressed.”
The covers were met with a mixed reaction online, with many followers of Alok and Brides Today welcoming the publication’s decision to star a non-binary character on their cover.
“You have such an elegant way of seeing things,” one person told Alok in the comments.
“It makes me optimistic and free.”
“Beautiful all the way. You. Your beliefs. Your strength. Your strength,” said another.
“Really, if people were safe in themselves, they wouldn’t really give a damn about how other people live. I love you, great pictures,” said another.
Many readers were supportive of the covers shared online and Alok’s non-binary gender identity
‘I love freaking Alok so much.’ They came to speak at my school and their stories and poems were very inspiring.
Another said, “I wish people would stop hating and start educating themselves.”
“Weirdness is pretty sweet if you let it be, and it’s frustrating to see so many people shoot non-binary people and genderqueer people. So much hate from people who claim to love.
However, some people felt differently about the cover and said they were “horrified” by Alok’s non-binary identity.
Others felt that starring Alok on the cover was an “eraser” of what they called “real women” and “terrifying”.
‘no. I’m going to visit the brides today. Someone said silly.
This guy is annoying, more on the inside than the outside. Another said, if that is possible.
“Stop erasing real women,” said one disgruntled reader.
Someone said, “This type of article is terrifying…complete nonsense.”
The cover comes as India waits to hear whether its Supreme Court will legalize same-sex marriage this year.
India rescinded a colonial-era ban on same-sex sex in 2018 in a landmark ruling that activists at the time hoped would uphold the right to equality.
Same-sex sex was punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
India is now waiting to see if same-sex marriage will also become legal across the country.
India’s Supreme Court heard arguments in favor of the same-sex marriage ruling on April 18 and has yet to make its decision on another landmark ruling for India’s LGBTQ+ community.