(Trigger warning: Mentions of suicide)
“Why is no attention being paid to the fact that a 16-year-old faced hate comments online for doing something they not only loved, but were also good at? This negativity needs to be checked and curtailed,” says Preeti Yadav, mother of 16-year-old queer makeup artist Pranshu, who tragically died by suicide on 21 November, Tuesday.
“My child was supremely talented. They did nothing wrong. I am proud of them,” she adds.
A resident of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Pranshu was a student of class 10 in Ujjain Public School who took to sharing makeup-related posts and reels on Instagram during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was self-taught – and had nearly 17,000 followers on Instagram. In the wake of his death, several queer handles alleged they were subjected to online bullying and harassment after their reel in a traditional Indian outfit went viral during Diwali. It purportedly received more than 4,000 comments – most of them homophobic in nature.
While several LGBTQIA+ rights groups have claimed that Pranshu was queer, The Quint could not confirm their gender identity.
Speaking to the media, the local police confirmed that Pranshu was alone at home when they died by suicide on Tuesday afternoon. The police further added that they have seized Pranshu’s mobile phone for investigation – and will probe Pranshu’s social media handles and WhatsApp.
“The police have taken the statements of their father Rajendra Yadav, and other family members and neighbours,” Nagziri police station in-charge Kamal Singh Gehlot told reporters.
‘Pranshu Wanted to Be Like James Charles When They Grew Up’
Forty-four-year-old Preeti, who works as a Medical Representative (MR), tells The Quint that it was last year, when Pranshu was in class 9, that they had “opened up and shared their feelings” with their mother.
“Usually, it's in class 9 when children tell their parents they want to be engineers, architects, etc. But Pranshu came and told me they wanted to be a makeup artist. At first, I was a bit surprised, but when I looked at their work I was in awe. That day I asked them to follow their dream."Preeti Yadav
Since the pandemic, Pranshu had been using their grandfather’s mobile phone for online classes, and making videos during their free time. They performed well academically, their teachers at school were very fond of them, and they were always respectful towards girls and women, her mothers adds.
Pranshu’s parents had been divorced for three years. They used to live with their mother Preeti in Ujjain.
Preeti further says that Pranshu drew their inspiration from American YouTuber and makeup artist James Charles – and “wanted to be just like him.”
Pranshu used to collaborate with brands for promotions, and “never burdened” her with any expenses related to makeup, she adds.
On being asked about the purported viral reel in question, Preeti says,
“Pranshu was a makeup artist. They were wearing a traditional Indian outfit for Diwali. They were fully covered. What could possibly be wrong with that?”
She adds that while she was mourning the loss of her only child, she was proud of them for having an ambition and honing their talent.
“Every child is unique, and I accepted my child the way they were. I would have always stood by them. I wish they would have given me that chance,” Preeti mourns, adding that feels “alone” now.