If being gay is a choice, when did you decide to become straight?

What is love? According to one definition, love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person”. According to another annotation, “love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment”. Yet another interpretation explains love as “an intense feeling of deep affection and sexual attraction for someone”. One element common in all these terminologies is an absence of describing love as one that can happen only between people of opposite genders. Though a common notion states that love happens between a male and a female, nonetheless, no definition points this out. When in terms of loving the same gender relatives or friends, there comes no objection, why do some of us have an issue with homosexuality? Love does not happen on the basis of sexes, but on the grounds of emotions. Falling for a person doesn’t come with a manual of ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’, but only with the heart’s command of “s/he’s the one!”.

Homosexuality is mostly a taboo subject in the Indian civil society and also for the Indian government. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes sex with persons of the same gender punishable by law. Due to the fear of law, family, friends and the society as a whole, a lot of our fellow citizens need to have a parallel universe of their own. For the angst of being left alone, harassed, unaccepted and bullied, a lot of our acquaintances have been forced into a camouflaged lifestyle. But aren’t these people humans? Indians, just like you and me? Aren’t they equally a fan of Harry Potter who still can’t give up Bollywood for Hollywood, and don’t they stand alike in respect during the national anthem? Just because loving the people of  same gender is against our preconceived and so-called ethically-drilled notions, do we have the right to discriminate against them and treat them like dirt? Pope Francis rightly said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.”

The atrocities against the homosexuals have been rising by the day. Recently did we see a news flashing which read “Gujrat lesbian couple committed suicide and left a sorrowful message on a note”. Another incident that was conveyed on a media platform was that of a gay crossdresser who prefers female pronouns, who, within a year of coming out, was gang-raped four times, beaten with bricks and also nearly thrown out of a moving vehicle. Even after begging mercy, she would be beaten hard followed by multiple rapes.

A similar account was shared by a man. He, a homosexual, made plans to meet a guy through an instant messaging application in some eastern part of India. To his surprise, he was greeted by two men, one of whom was dressed in a police uniform. This man drugged the victim and also raped him after which photos were clicked. However, none of these men filed a complaint dreading the consequences.

One kind of trap set for the homophiles is alluring, yet fake dates through various online dating sites. At the time of in-person meet-ups, the gays are assaulted, harassed or sent behind the bars. One disheartening fact is that many police officers reject to file a man’s complaint of rape exclaiming that “men don’t get raped!”

A Bangalore-based doctor did come forward after several men with whom he had sex with, extorted about $25,000 from him. The police not only did put those men behind bars but also arrested the doctor under Section 377. Here, the doctor became both, the victim as well as the perpetrator.

The socio-economic class of a homosexual plays a huge part in how smooth and obstacle-free life s/he is permitted to live. With the lower-class people, they don’t care as to what their sexuality is, because, they already have a plate full of concerns to be inviting yet another one. More often than not, they might not even be aware of a concept of loving the same gender exists. And even if they are, they are preoccupied with fulfilling other pressing needs of food, shelter, and water than finding a same sex partner. In the case of upper-class people, they either have progressive acquaintances or a chance and capability to fly off to a land where LGBT is legal. But when it comes to the middle-class public, they get stuck in the webs of a faceless entity called as the society. With only dreams of being able to settle out of India, these people fall prey to  emotional blackmailing and various types of wickedness. In jails, people booked under Section 377 and the like are often maltreated and beaten by inmates.

What’s more? Homosexuality is referred to a disease in most parts of India. One incident that was brought to notice was of a girl, who after revealing to her parents, came out in front of her Maulvi. The outcome was a heated argument between the girl and the whole community that had gathered against her. There was only one uproar- the girl was sick and that she needed treatment- The Maulvi was repeatedly telling the girl that he could cure her of this disease. Homophiles are often told that this is just a phase. Yes! This means their love is just a phase. Oh! Their life too would then be just a phase.

Another issue that comes up is the dilemma and turmoil that exists in an individual’s head on discovering his or her sexual orientation. In the Indian society of ours, we’ve been trained and brainwashed with thoughts that being straight is the only way we would be considered as normal. Any other sexual or gender orientation is considered a taboo and completely bizarre. This not only causes others to deem the homosexuals as abnormal, but also degrades oneself in their own eyes. They find it difficult to accept themselves as they are. Moreover, many of the acquaintances do not really accept this orientation of the homosexuals from the bottom of their heart. Further, these poor beings also get referred by dirty and cheap names.

In the recent times however, with more and more people coming out, there has been a progress and development in the condition of the homosexuals in India. On 24th of August, 2017, Supreme Court gave the country’s LGBT community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. Therefore, an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law. However, the Supreme Court did not directly overturn any laws criminalizing same-sex relationships. But, homophiles are getting more acceptance by the day. With media and Bollywood spreading awareness of this sexuality, the treatment towards this class is improving considerably. Nevertheless, the fight for their rights has a long way to go. But I’m sure, once all the LGBT people come out, they will be in a much better proportion as compared to the heterosexuals now.

A message to everyone : being a bisexual or a homosexual is not a choice, it’s as natural as breathing. Stop thinking that it is a disease! Accept it! Love is all that matters, and love knows no gender.

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