These days nobody cares much about love in India. So much hate is getting spewed across the country from communities to communities, opposite political ideologies and fellow human beings. Forget about talking in regards to sexuality, love is still a taboo in India. Being gay, I guess, will never be okay even if LGBT gets their rights.
A few months ago, India’s first transgender who is college principal, Manobi Bandopadhyay was denied the Covid RT-PCR test after she was called “mental” by the hospital staff. Following a fever, Manobi along with her husband had visited the hospital, while her husband got tested; the staff said conducting her Covid test at that moment wouldn’t be possible. The health workers however didn’t state a reason as to why the test wouldn’t be possible. Although her husband’s results came out to be positive, Manobi was not taken for the test. Following the humiliation, she decided to meet the hospital superintendent. However, when she walked towards his office, Manobi was stopped by a lady security guard and a group of other green apron-clad workers.
Taking to the Facebook wall, Manobi shared a video where she narrated the entire incident and how the security guard misbehaved with her, disrespecting her identity. The irony is that instead of understanding her plight most of the people commented obnoxiously on her post. That shows the mentality of Indians. Except for people living in urban cities, others don’t know the terms gay or lesbian. Unfortunately, most movies and reality shows display gay people in a bad light. This leaves a bad impression for women who play an important role daily staying home and watching these.
Well! All are not bad; some people support gay folks. I have many LGBT (Koti) friends. They are like my family, and we talk intensely about these topics. Just because many of them visit my house, people in my society think I am one of them just because I am single.
The workplace is the most complicated for these friends. Co-worker insults them a lot due to their homosexuality. Even heterosexual couples are looked down upon many a time. In India, teens are killed, beaten, abused because they had a relationship with another caste, community and religious boy or a girl. In such conservative honour killing societies, what more can one expect? India is changing in urban areas but rural India is still brutal. In cities for many parents, deep down, they know that being gay is okay, but those neighbours are a big embarrassment for them. Most of the people here focus on satisfying the society, to put up an image, a falsehood so that they can pretend that they are fine.
There was a time in this country when Untouchability was not only a widely accepted practice but also the norm. Yet, with the will of the government, with the various education programs, laws and anti-discrimination measures, the practice now is on its deathbed, existing only in the minds of most conservative and orthodox people. The government was able to achieve all of this, even when this practice has its roots in religion. If the government was able to root out a religious practice such as untouchability, then I have little reason to believe that they can do the same thing about homophobia, especially considering that homophobia is not religious in nature in Hinduism.
We grew up in India where there is not much of a distinction between gay men and straight men (it is not inappropriate for men to be physically closer than what is considered appropriate in the west). However, men who are even remotely feminine or emotionally sensitive are treated as objects of ridicule right from high school. Just because, we don’t often talk about them, we don’t read about them, we don’t see their story on mainstream media? They become headlines only during some controversy. It’s a vicious circle if you look at it. Masses are ignorant as people are not ready to talk about them, acknowledge their presence. Mainstream media refuses to talk about them. They don’t show their stories and struggle. Newspapers would rather talk about crappy affairs or irrelevant stories than publish or cover an event for them, by them and for them. They might publish something about Karan Johar and his filmy affairs but at large this community is always sidelined and ignored. There is no mention of them in textbooks. This, I believe, is the main reason. We need to talk about it, be open and educate commoners about it.
Since there is no law to safeguard their interests, many fear to open up. Some who have shown courage have gone through various hardships to reach where they’re. When you say gay, the first image you get of a person behaving like opposite-sex; which is not entirely true. Today for the news report on senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as judge of the Delhi High Court, I might have called hundreds of gay friends; most of them denied talking because they don’t want others to know their sexual orientation other than kept mute because they are scared to talk openly. Only a few had the guts to speak and they were those celebrities who are in the news already. Tell me how and why this society is going to change for the LGBT community with such fears of coming open?