Sprint ace Dutee Chand became the first high-profile sportsperson from India to go public about being in a same-sex relationship.
Chand’s announcement was greeted by overwhelming support by Indian and international personalities alike on social media. However, noises from Chand’s camp throughout the week has suggested that the same hasn’t resonated back in her family, claiming that her elder sister has been threatening to throw the Asian Games silver medallist out of the house.
In an interview with the Indian Express, Chand has opened up about her partner, and revealed how potential ramifications of being in a same-sex relationship affected her.
“Earlier this year on Valentine’s Day she proposed to me. I was in Hyderabad...typed out a Whatsapp message stating that there was something in her heart she needed to talk about. I asked her what it was about and she said she was in love with me,” Chand was quoted as saying.
“My first reaction frankly was that ‘this won’t be possible because the world won’t accept or allow a girl to be with a girl. But she assured me that we can make it work. She told me not to worry about what the world will say.”
Chand, who revealed how she had been feeling lonely after her previous relationship with a boy in 2014 came to an end, felt the support of her current partner during an injury she was nursing during 2017. Chand was recovering from a fractured hand at the time.
“It was during that time when she stayed with me in Bhubaneshwar that I told her about my life....about how I stayed in the hostel away from my village, and that it involves a lot of travelling,” said the 23-year-old.
“I also told her how when I win medals there is a lot of joy and people appreciate it but the difficult part is when you are training. Because nobody sees the effort needed to win a medal; the sacrifices that go with it. I have hardly been able to attend any festivals in Orissa because I am either training or participating in competitions. She seemed to have understood my lifestyle.”
However, things changed after her partner’s gesture in 2018 while Chand was competing at the Asian Games. “In 2018, just before the Asian Games, she conducted a puja in my village for me… for me to do well. My parents also did a puja so that I would win medals, but she on her own also did one. That is when I realised that she did really care for me,” she added.
The sprinter suggested that coming out in open about her relationship made her feel liberated. She has been able to have better focus in training, despite growing turmoil back home. She revealed that her mother, who initially to supported the decision, is now upset.
Chand takes heart from the fact that fellow athlete, South Africa legend Caster Semenya has married a woman, and hopes that she can stay with her partner in India.