Just the other day, I saw a deal on SoSasta that let you have unlimited scoops of ice-cream at Hokey Pokey (a franchise ice-cream parlour). They have an outlet at Bandra West, and since Alisha & I were there after our self defense class, I suggested we buy the deal and get the vouchers during our next session, so we can have some ice-cream after sweating ourselves out in class. She told me the deal was for a couple and we couldn’t avail of it. I said we were a couple already- “Two” of us made a couple. She went on to say it has to be 2 members of the opposite sex. I thought that was pretty biased. What if we were a lesbian couple wanting to avail of the deal? So on our way back, we rehearsed what we would say if we happen to go to Hokey Pokey and claim for our unlimited scoops. We spoke of suing them, fighting for our rights, stressing on section 377 and everything else that could get us those scoops. But I noticed one thing. No matter how educated we are, how much ever modernised or broadminded we call ourselves, we couldn’t help but giggle after rehearsing every one of those acts. Like the idea humoured us somehow.
When I was a kid, I didn’t even know gays exist. I didn’t know that it was possible for two members of the same sex to fall in love or engage in sexual intercourse. These things were always kept hidden from us just because the society felt homosexuals weren’t normal human beings, and that homosexuality was a taboo. For some, a sin! Frankly, I got exposed to this concept in the sixth grade from watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (when Ross gets divorced for the first time because his wife Carol is a lesbian). I went to an all girls’ school and as I grew up, I learnt of bisexuals too. There were girls in my school who other students & teachers said were lesbians, and they were made fun of, or avoided. During our sex education sessions, this area was never touched/discussed. Also, it was embarrassing to stand up and ask a question about homosexuality considering it was looked down upon. And we dare not ask such questions to our parents or other respectable elders of the family due to fear of getting scolded or punished. Even after seven years now, after the High court struck down the Section 377 provision two years back, after homosexuality was portrayed in movies (although after a lot of struggle with the censor board), homosexuality is still not accepted wholly in India.
Parents still expect their kids to find a match for themselves from the opposite sex, so that they can start a family and lead a ‘normal’ life. We see such an example in the Bollywood movie Fashion where Rahul Arora (played by Samir Soni), a gay fashion designer gets married to his female best friend to keep his mother happy, but continues to date his boyfriend post marriage. A lot of homosexuals are pressurised by their families this way but they don’t realise what they are doing to the person and consequently to his/her partner. Of course, reproduction is impossible without two heterosexual individuals of the opposite sex, and that’s the only way the blood line can be kept alive, but these people can’t change the way they feel. They just aren’t built that way.
Trying to change them will destroy them. It already takes a lot of courage for them to admit their sexuality to themselves and to their near ones. Forcing them to change or live differently will hamper their growth, and the depression caused might lead them to even take their lives.
Even as I write this, I admit I feel a little different around gay people. I’d probably be okay with a gay friend but I might tell the world I have a gay friend just to see how they react or just to prove I am okay with having a gay friend even though internally I feel different around him/her. I guess time and experience will help me accept it. The rest of India? That might probably take a century!