Making it more inclusive
Chatting up Ishaan Sethi, the CEO and co-founder of the homegrown The Delta app for the LGBTQI+ community
The Delta app, which went live last month and is touted to be India’s first homegrown app for the LGBTQI+ community, provides an inclusive and a safe space for the community to interact in addition to information about LGBTQI+ events across India.
A 20-something Ishaan Sethi, the CEO and co-founder of The Delta, a proud gay man, says that the app is a result of his resolve ‘to unify and validate the Indian LGBTQI+ community’. After his education at Brown University, USA, he decided to come back home and he soon realised that none of the dating apps fulfilled the unique needs of the Indian LGBTQI+ community. Some were not safe, some didn’t have LGBTQI+ representation and most did not respect privacy.
The Delta app allows exclusive LGBTQI+ dating through The Delta Connect, a feature that follows security and verification methods to allow a safe dating experience. It facilitates LGBTQI+ socialisation through The Delta Community, where verified, like-minded people can meet via groups chats and bond over common interests.
It is also slowly becoming a platform to find employment, legal aid and medical assistance for the community.
Sethi offers us an insight into the working of the app.
- How does the app function and help the LGBTQI+ community?
The app offers three distinct features — The Delta Connect, The Delta Community and The Delta Network. The Delta Connect offers a safe and secure environment for people to meet. The Delta Community, which is our newly launched group chat feature, allows people from the LGBTQI+ community to meet people with similar interests and make friends. It is also slowly becoming a platform for people to find jobs, legal aid and advice, and even qualified medical recommendations. The Delta Network, which is a conglomerate of brands, companies and public spaces that are LGBTQI+ inclusive, can be a safe place for the community to socialise and meet.
- What are the highlights of the app?
The Delta Network has several aspects to foster inclusivity and acceptance of the LGBTQI+ community in the public space. It gives corporates the access to free inclusivity training and workshops to foster a culture of acceptance in the workplace. It also gives members of the LGBTQI+ community information about events dedicated to them.
- How has been the response so far?
The response has been supremely overwhelming, and most of the feedback that we have got is a heartfelt acknowledgment of how much the community needed and wanted a dedicated app.
- What are some of the problems faced by the LGBTQI+ community at present, and how is the app trying to solve those problems?
Most of the problems faced by the LGBTQI+ community are due to a lack of awareness in the mainstream about the members of the community. Through The Delta Network we conduct sensitisation workshops in workplaces, schools, hospitality establishments etc. This helps familiarise people with the different identities in the community, gender, and the correct way to conduct oneself in order to be respectful towards all.
There are several problems that we attempt at solving. Which is why Delta Connect and Community have a very strict verification process and a zero tolerance policy against abuse. This, along with a hands-on community management team, makes The Delta a safe place to find friends and/or a special alliance. Safe places to socialise without discrimination — The Delta Network lists LGBTQI+ centric events all around the country, LGBTQI+ inclusive cafes/bars/restaurants etc and give them access to exclusive discounts too. The Delta Community has dedicated groups by NGOs, companies and organisations where people can post their problems and get advice.
- Do you see a visible change in the way LGBTQI+ community is perceived after the Supreme Court repealed Section 377?
The people of the community have started living with a little less to worry about, although the fight has just begun, people know they cannot be persecuted anymore and hence more and more people are coming out. We saw an unprecedented spike in our user base in the days following the verdict.
- Since homosexuality is no more a crime in the country, which means the LQBTQI+ community can visit public places, come out in public without being threatened and so on, do you think they still need an app like The Delta to interact?
On the contrary, I feel an app like this is needed now more than ever. The LGBTQI+ community could always come out in public and interact. Section 377 never banished queer people, it just stated their mode of physical intimacy to be unnatural and hence criminal. It was never illegal to be queer in our country to begin with. Having said that, the queer community is a minority and a very scattered minority in a huge country like India. There is a lot of stigma, unacceptable and lack of information rampant in our country.
Often people grow up feeling lonely, confused and even unaware of where do they fall on the very fluid spectrum of gender and sexuality. Before Section 377, a majority of queer people in our country were restricted to their closet only because they thought their sexuality is illegal. Now that the whole confusion is over and done with, the community needs a digital platform to find their tribe, get the right information and tools to live their best life. The Delta App is run by a team which is 55 per cent queer and 100 per cent ally. It is being made by the people of the Indian LGBTQI+ community for them!