My writing desk has faced some neglect of late, for which I would like to apologise. Societal obligations have kept me both busy and uninspired, leading to a sorrowful lack in any literary endeavours I may have chosen to undertake. Indeed, even as I write this, I have a plethora of books and documents open on my computer, which is adamant to drag me to the bottom of the endless ocean that is the mainstream education system. The world, it would seem, has taken a grave disliking to my episodes of deep thinking and subsequent contributions (and here, I do take the liberty to assume that my ramblings are a contribution) that follow.
Society, as though under the obligation to maintain the karmic balance, has provided me with very many things to write about for the past few weeks. One of those fleeting moments of literary inspiration is the progenitor of this post. The conceptualisation of this post had taken place many months ago, but the actualisation is almost entirely due to a post which came out (no allusions to the title), written by my extremely talented friend. The post, cleverly titled “Closets are Claustrophobic” (the post is a great read, do check it out by clicking on the title and letting technology control your every move from there on out), spoke about much the same issue I wish to discuss here, but in what I opine as a much more refined manner.
I’ve always had trouble with the phrase “coming out”. It always seemed unfair to me that people of a certain sexual orientation were deemed living “in the closet” until such time as they chose to reveal their sexuality while their heterosexual counterparts could go about daily life in a decidedly un-Narnian fashion. It sickens me to my core to say this, but having been a homophobe for a large part of my life, I didn’t give much thought to this phrasing, something which I now sorely regret. Far more than the phrase, the actual discrimination which exists on the basis of something as deep-rooted and involuntary as sexual orientation is a cause for concern.
I have been fortunate enough to have very accepting friends (family is beautifully ignorant until this point) when it came to my sexual orientation. However, I’ve had a fair few encounters with woefully misguided people, who have been left scandalised at my “revelation”, visibly cringing away from me at times and changing the way they talked and behaved around me. Then there are those who treat sexuality like an alien, fascinating phenomenon, mixing together their sense of wonderment and prevalent stereotypes in the crudest of ways. But of all the different reactions that people have, I find the worst ones always fall into the category of “it’s not your fault; it’s not something you choose or have any control over”.
Even though I have had quite a lot of practice dealing with these varied responses, it still takes me a few moments to calm myself down before I explain that it’s no one’s “fault”, and that there is nothing at fault in this case. Between the throng of people who pretend to be understanding of the “situation” or the “condition” and the cold-shoulder-turners, it’s very understandable why such a great number of people wish to remain “in the closet”. This is a scenario which is exceedingly seen in India, which is ironic considering that the country boasts of its diversity to anyone who can stop taking pictures of the slums for even a second, and refuses to be accepting of a whole social demographic.
It’s not that the country is vehemently homophobic, even though it may seem like it, but the people are shamefully unaware of the nature of sexuality. Yes, India has very many issues with acceptance, and that predicament is only heightened due to the lack of awareness. To many Indians, and certainly to the government, homosexuality is still a disease, something “unnatural” which must be stamped out of the population and criminalised. In many circles of India, homosexuality is an affliction which can be treated by religion, brute force, shaming, or, ironically in the more educated circles, therapy. One of the times when I have been the most taken aback in my life was when a junior resident of psychiatry at one of the most renowned hospitals in the country insisted that “reverting” to heterosexuality was better for the mental health of patients.
What bothers me the most about all of this, though, is the hypocritical nature of the Indian society. Having spent my final two years of high school in an all boys residential school, I, unfortunately, have first-hand knowledge of what usually transpires in sexually starved communities. Four classes of people seemed to exist at my school: the vehemently heterosexual, for whom any kind of homosexual contact was both unfathomable and repulsive; the ones who were exploring their sexuality and who would make sure that news of their experimentation never leaked; the ones who had been so starved of sexual contact that flesh was all they needed, be it of man or woman, but who would never let this side of their identity be seen; and the homosexuals. All these classes, however, had one thing in common: they were all very outspoken and wore their distaste for homosexuality proudly on their sleeve.
The post which I have linked covers a lot of the things that I wanted to talk about, but there is one point which I feel can never be stressed enough. Ridicule of homosexuals and the LGBT has been a long-standing cultural norm in modern society, from way before the time of “Gay Related Immune Disorder”. It is good to see how many people have undergone the political reforms which prevent them from mocking people of specific sexual orientations, but at the same time, it is disheartening to see how much abuse is still prevalent. Using words like “gay” in a derogatory context remains to this day a common practice, and it baffles me how a progress civilisation can think that this is at all acceptable. The freight-train doesn’t even remotely stop here, though. Psychological and emotional abuse, if not physical, is constantly doled out in buckets, not only to individuals of a non-heterosexual orientation but to anyone who “seems gay”.
People will spend hours of their time watching crude homosexual pornography, and then turn their faces towards the world and comment on how gross and unnatural homosexuality is, making it a point to equate everything even remotely displeasing with a non-heterosexual orientation. Yes, it was inspiring to see countless Indian take to the streets when the Supreme Court recriminalized homosexual sex in India, but if it takes gross injustice to raise a voice against such discrimination and to show solidarity for the LGBT, then it isn’t hard to understand why so many people choose to hide their identities for their entire lives.
India has a history of teaching its children to not be proud of themselves and making them understand that unless they conform to a manner that is acceptable to society, they are not worth it. As gut-wrenchingly sick as that is, it’s even more wrong in the case of sexuality. Countries across the globe place so much importance on “fitting in”, that members of the LGBT have no choice but to prevent their identities from ever being revealed, lest the predominantly heterosexual society consider them as outcasts. And no one, absolutely no one, should have to live with that kind of psychological trauma or stress.
I realise that I have made any generalisations here, and I would like to apologise for any feelings that may have been hurt. It is not my intention to cause discord, but to make sure that society acknowledges the LGBT as on of them, and doesn’t make it their mission to create a rift between two halves of humanity.