Article 377 – Homophobes, which side of the judgement are you on?
As the Supreme Court of India decriminalises gay sex, calling the British-era Section 377 irrational, arbitrary and incomprehensible, it is time for you to reflect.
Our Indian culture has systematically, at convenience, kept the LGBTQ community at bay. In the evening parties and WhatsApp jokes, we make a mockery of physical expression of love between people belonging to the same sex. There are derogatory names in Hindi that I would not like to mention here and dignify them. Every attempt to make them invisible had been successful so far.
Whenever the LGBTQ community asserted their existence, there has been paranoia. And history has proved, when we are afraid of anything, we go on an offensive to ‘set things right’. While as Indian society, we are yet to come to terms with any form of public display of affection, I wonder how comfortable individuals are going to be when they see men holding hands while walking, sharing the same spaces that you are in – malls, railway stations, movie theatres, on the streets. Because girls holding hands and walking can only mean they are ‘sisters’ in India.
So far we have been quite busy trying to tell the LGBTQ community that being gay is a disease which has a cure. Now is the time to reflect and understand that being opposed to the physical manifestation of any variety of emotional love is warped which needs a cure.
Here are some Do’s and Don’t as you see this LGBTQ uprising in India. It is not that suddenly they would be occupying our ‘straight’ streets. It is that they have always been around and will be more visible, very gradually, so to say.
So be ok with it. That is all you can do. And if you can’t, it is your problem. There, I said it.
Do not gawk and speculate if those couple of girls over there or those two men with hands over each other’s shoulders are, ‘you-know-who’! Of the many things you are doing is, you are embarrassing yourselves and invading someone else’s privacy. If no one has said it out loud so far, let me do the honours. It is none of your business. A couple’s choice is a private matter, something that we as a society need to learn – straight or gay.
Say the worlds in privacy, secrecy and comforts of your house today. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender and Queer. Good. Then there are things in the middle of the grey area that are not yet named and defined. Educate yourself.
When someone in public tells you they are gay, try that your jaw doesn’t drop. Be cool.
Stop the holificaiton gay sex, calling it ‘all about love’. It is also about sex. If it doesn’t suit your personal tastes, all you have to be is out of the way.
There is more to come.
Cultural shifts take decades to come and get legitimised and accepted.
There is going to be dissent as moral policing is everybody’s business in India. There are going to be fringe, orthodox and conservative groups, brandishing culture, history and pedestrian science. Men and women who will do everything in their might to shut down gay clubs and bars when they start becoming more legal and vocal. We are yet to come to terms with Valentine’s Day (eye roll). There is still going to be discrimination and harassment when gay couples look for adopting children, rent houses and buy property. It is an uphill task. LGBTQ are not only dealing with coming to terms with their sexuality but also coping with defending something they may or may not be clear about, to the whole wide world outside. The least, the least that we can do is cease to be a problem. This means learning to co-exist. And that, is an entirely different chapter.
If you need permission to be ok about it, the Honourable Supreme Court of India has just done it on behalf of those who were afraid of making a decision and then, fearful of the decision itself. So embrace love. It is allowed and legal now.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.