Chand, the women’s 100 meters champion, recently announced that she is in a same-sex relationship.
India’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand has been making waves with her athletic career, but her recent coming out as gay will perhaps be considered a bigger first in the country’s sports history, at least for some time now. Chand showed extreme bravado when she announced recently that she is in a same-sex relationship, shocking a culturally conservative India.
But in doing so, she surely found fans far and wide. And the latest to applaud Chand’s creating history of sorts is none other than American comedian and popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
DeGeneres posted a picture of Dutee Chand on her Instagram account and wrote: “She’s the 100m record holder and the first openly gay sportsperson in India. I guess she knows a thing or two about being first. I’m so proud of her.”
Chand’s story is compelling for more than one reason. Coming from a conservative town and hailing from a family of modest means, where talk of gay relationship is considered taboo, her coming out is no mean feat.
In fact, the sprinter’s story reflects the prejudices in the society she is coming from. After almost breaking up the Internet with her announcement, Chand also spoke about how her elder sister tried to blackmail her about her relationship. Fed up, she decided to come out.
Chand also told in interviews that she was encouraged to take her relationship with a 19-year-old girl from her own village to a more stable level after the Indian Supreme Court decriminalized same sex relationships.
Chand’s partner, who the star athlete has chosen not to name, is also her relative.
Chand is the current national champion in the women’s 100 meters. She is also the third woman from India to ever qualify for the women’s 100 meters event at the Olympic Games. In 2018, she won a silver in women’s 100 meters at the Jakarta Asian Games.
Born in the Jajpur district in Odisha, she comes from a poor family. With her coming out, Chand became the first ever sportsperson in Indian history to be openly gay.