Is India Ready to Spread Its Rainbow Wings?

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A homophobic shooter in Orlando enters a night club and ends 50 lives. A sting operation in Delhi reveals that ayurvedic doctors working at Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali clinics still believe homosexuality is a disease, a mental disorder.

The Quint believes its time to reach out… and offer #LoveToHomophobes. And as part of our campaign, we bring you this story from our archives.

The United States of America just recognised marriage equality by legalising same-sex marriage — a monumental step by all means; a legislation to look up to, and to be proud of, the world over. And we Indians are proud, as demonstrated by my Facebook feed, one rainbow brighter than the other.

But behind our rainbow veils, deep down, are we really ready for marriage-equality in this country? Are we ready to respect someone else’s preferences as theirs, without plaguing it with our own? As much as we pride ourselves with a liberal “yes”, I’m starting to think not.

The Gay ‘Disease’

The Rainbow Flag has come to represent the struggles of the LGBTQ movement. (Photo: Reuters) 
The Rainbow Flag has come to represent the struggles of the LGBTQ movement. (Photo: Reuters) 

I recently started to intern at a Film Production House in Mumbai, testing waters of the Bollywood world I have loved ever since I danced along with Kajol and Shahrukh flashing on my TV screen. My work, among a lot of other miscellaneous stuff, was to help out with the casting of an upcoming feature film. It is a coming-of-age film, in which one major character, a college boy, during the course of his first year at college, realises he might be gay. An innocent, honest, raw character.

To get a call for an audition, the person on the other side of the line is over-joyed, and understandably so. But somehow, very few of the prospective actors manage to maintain the same level of enthusiasm post reading the character sketch. Why? Because clearly, being gay is a disease — something to be rectified because GAY is a bad word.

I even had the father of a prospective actor call me back, to let me know that he disapproved of the role. “Since the character is gay, my son will not be auditioning for this role”, he told me. “If the gay can be removed, then he will be there”. It’s time India understood that ‘the gay’ cannot be caused or removed. ‘The gay’ is, in fact, inherent — a fact so often overlooked. ‘The gay’ is inherent, not to be created or destroyed. The gay is only ONE very crucial aspect of who someone is. The world does not stop if your son or your brother is gay. He may be gay and a spectacular human being. Why has it become an either/or? ‘The gay’ is not an experiment to undo.

Battling Stereotypes

Participants take part in a gay pride march in New Delhi, June 28, 2009. (Photo: Reuters)
Participants take part in a gay pride march in New Delhi, June 28, 2009. (Photo: Reuters)

Another thing that this encounter has taught me is India and its battle with stereotypes. One prospective actor, who was ‘brave enough’ to audition for the character, called to ask if he were to act animatedly ‘gay’ or ‘normal’. Is gay not ‘normal’ then, India? What abnormality do you speak of? The right to choose who you love? Rather, the right to freely demonstrate who you love. Because these are choices that we as individuals don’t make, it’s just how you are born. Some people have a knack for music, others math. Similarly some people are gay, and some straight. In a world so cruel, no one is going to CHOOSE to be gay. No one would want to put themselves through the shame and the suffocation they face every day.

India needs to grow up, to open its eyes and let it sink in. Till we do not recognise that ‘the gay’ is inherent, ‘the gay’ is not wrong, we are very far from spreading our rainbow wings. ‘Gay’ is a synonym for happiness, yet this world is increasingly deeming it a word filled with dirt and hate

It’s time to free ourselves from the cage that we have built around ourselves. It’s time to spread your wings, India. Soar.

You can send in your love notes to lovetohomophobes@thequint.com. Or use the hashtag #LoveToHomophobes to post your messages on social media.

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