On an arctic winter night, while I was still cudgelling my brain for ways I could transform better in the school of life, a metamorphosis was destined to make way, something peculiar, something which I envisage as a prophecy. On a Sunday night, switching through channels on the television, I had but to pause to listen to the tales of few untold excruciations. Tales that chilled down the spine, tales that made me challenge humanity, struck my eardrum as a courageous and bold voice made its impact- “My uncle was giving me a bath when I was 7 years old, and that’s when it first happened and it continued for 11 years”. Then there was on the screen a curious unexplored identity bullied and mocked at for years until he turned to a happy beautiful and changed girl. And lastly, the story of an IT professional extorted and kneeled to perform oral sex, only because he was queer. These are examples which put a slap to our developmental boast-tales. Cases of pedophilia, bestiality and sodomy already haunt up my soul as to where we have fallen down to.
An umbrella term, comprising the said minuscule minorities — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender — LGBT people face many challenges — including social ostracizing, homophobia at work and difficulty finding partners. Discrimination and police harassment are common and religious and family values lead many people to hide their sexual orientation, even though there has been a growing momentum in the awareness of their rights. Extortion, blackmail, rape, forced sex and other inhumane crimes on the people belonging to the LGBT community have been on a soaring high.
Life is full of labels and people around are full of judgmental stickers but WE SHOULD NOT LET OUR SEXUALITY DEFINE US. Being proud of the born identity is a message that has to be spread universally. To be persecuted because of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or being born a certain way and loving someone or anyone is vague and baseless. Make sure you are defined by your actions, by the good you do in your individual capacity and by the positive change you bring to the people around you as well as your personality so that if someone were to ever ask you to describe yourself in one word, instead of saying “gay” or “straight”, you can choose a worthier word. Don’t let your sexuality or who you chose to sleep with be the summary of your life, exactly how the world already tries to corner you. Who knows if the finger-licking food you enjoyed was cooked by a gay guy, the movie you loved the most cast a lesbian girl, the doctor who ailed you be bisexual, and the beautiful girl/boy you lost your heart to was earlier a different set of hormones.
We keep learning through international debates and find people saying love is just love, no boundaries, no constraints, it conquers everything, and things on the same line. But then why do we detest it when it comes to two people of the same sex falling in love for each other? Homosexuals have been thrashed, molested, bullied, raped and blackmailed at various hours around the country for decades. They are traumatized to an extent that many choose to rather end it all up with their life. A recent happening in Agra reminds me of how we try to deal with teenagers instead of showing compassion and mature behavior. A 15-year-old boy set himself ablaze as he was caught by one of his neighbors getting intimate with a male friend in a park nearby. He got upset because of the tease, taunts and stigma that the society embossed upon him. He locked himself in the room for two days and set himself afire. A meritorious student burnt himself after pouring diesel. He received severe burns in his legs and chest.
Sexuality is innate, comes by birth. It’s never between choices we get. It’s about how we feel about people of the same or opposite sex. Transgender, or in simple words, the changed gender are blessed with religious beliefs but even then they have no standing identity of their own. A boy or a girl feels that he or she is born in an alien body. They feel something which they are not, and decide to change. After they change for good, the judgmental herd terms them as trash and stain to the culture.
Certainly, the third gender is not free from harassment, discrimination and face hardships of society in poverty and work in prostitution. The idea that the deities conferred special blessings to transgender people for their devotion continues to influence their role in Indian society. This contradicts the face and the values we Indians carry. Double standard of mentality for transgender is certainly outrageous. Praising on childbirth and disowning otherwise are the two opposite sides of the same theory of mindset.
Adding more to the discrimination and unjust behavior, we don’t seem to respect the courage of the person who proudly comes out to his or her family or friends. In most of the cases, the society turns deaf to their voice in the name of culture and honor. Coming out is not a virtue of the coward. It demands to have guts and needs that nerve to inspire peers to come out of the closet. Let’s quickly go through a couple of short stories which I got to read somewhere over the internet on how people take the leap, express themselves openly, unworried of the result they may have to face:
Namrata, 30, had always had something that drew her towards women. She spent her adolescence going through the same insecurities and heartbreaks as everybody else but with a proud identity. Alike conservative families, she was prone to marriage pressures. When she ran out of excuses to ‘reject’, her parents sat for ‘the talk’ and listened to what she had to say. Eventually, the cat was out of the bag and the truth was out as she told, “I am in love with a girl”. What followed was months of mayhem, threats to safety, emotional blackmail and multiple therapies. There was also an instance where she was sent abroad on a holiday while the cops were sent to her girlfriend’s house to threaten her.
In her own words, “The continuous mental harassment had paid off eventually taking a toll on our relationship and we departed our ways. Finally, after more than a year of trying to convince my parents that my sexual orientation was not a ‘disease’, a ‘choice’, or an ‘influence’, I had to get a little more aggressive. I threatened to talk to the media and to leave my home to lead a separate life. That’s when my parents conceded on two conditions: First, I could only work for the family business, which, by extension, meant I could no longer work with my best friend organising LGBT events. Second, no girls would be allowed in the house.” Over the last five years, her parents have grown to develop a ‘we shall not ask and you shall not tell’ attitude. Her younger sister, whom I came out to way before, has been by my side throughout. Her irrevocable support and the acceptance have added immensely to my strength to fight this battle—although I don’t expect things to change drastically with my family”.
Over the last five years, her parents have grown to develop a ‘we shall not ask and you shall not tell’ attitude. Her younger sister, whom she came out to way before, has been by her side throughout. “Her irrevocable support and the acceptance have added immensely to my strength to fight this battle—although I don’t expect things to change drastically with my family”, she says.
Abhinav, 20, BMS student, puts it this way – “Coming out is not a one-time thing. It’s a recurring process that you have to go through with yourself, with your friends, with your family and sometimes even with strangers you barely know. Growing up being bullied is not rare for a boy who is queer, especially when you don’t understand why you’re being bullied.”
He continues, “What’s so different about me? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I just have it easy like the other boys? These questions stab at you because you just don’t understand what’s wrong—initially. Coming out for me has been an intensive, three-stage process: denial, repression and acceptance. I told my girlfriend of four years first, and she, who is now my best friend, was the most supportive friend I could’ve possibly had. Then came my closest friends, which included a few guy friends as well, who I never thought would accept this part of me. But they did, and it only brought us closer. The only thing left for me to do is to come out to my family. And one day, when I make that happen, I will be fully liberated.”
India hasn’t been a universal illuminate for this kind of minority groups for ages. The infamous decision of the Supreme Court to effectively re-criminalize homosexuality created a human rights enigma. Even then the guy with that bold voice on the television, who had been 18 by the time he broke up and thrashed his accused of 11 years, took a stand and pledged that he would not let the same go with others. He has become an important citizen to voice against sexual abuse of children and stood as an active LGBT rights activist in India. That curious unexplored identity, a beautiful girl now, has turned out to be a known face in the glamour industry. Stories evolve, we voice in the highest pitch and spread awareness. We, collectively, irrespective of our sexuality, must demand our rights for us all, unaware of the results, but still hoping of a glimmer of the Rainbow which someday will be there, high with Pride, rising to the peak of our thought lines.