Bold is Beautiful; as these last words drowned in the emptiness of the screen, I was visibly overwhelmed by a barrage of emotions that had stirred me up on watching an advertisement film to promote an ethnic wear brand and I must congratulate the brain behind it. Emotionally stirring and beautifully made, it was a simple ad, laying bare a simple fact, but bold enough to showcase a reality considered not so simple, by many. It is a reality which is more often than not, perceived as an abnormality; the homosexual disposition.
As the characters faded in the dark, a thought lit up my mind. What if I was one too? ‘A lesbian!’ The very thought brought a coy smile to my lips. A smile, after days and months of a protracted constant frown, after the demise of faith- in humanity, relationships, people, their aspirations. In the backdrop of an extremely gloomy heterosexual existence ripe with verses like betraying beloveds, back-stabbing best friends and bluffing bonhomie, this gay thought, however hypothetical, did actually make me ‘gay’ today.
Though completely in awe of this particularly pleasing thought, unfortunately, it was just about time when my reality hit me hard, shattering the utopian world I was reveling in. I wasn’t gay. I was just an ordinary girl, with straight orientation, who would, (‘God forbid!!’) be given in marriage to a stranger of the opposite sex, one fine day.
Deliberately, pushing this truth to the hindsight, a playful, yet penetrating thought crossed my mind. What if I were a lesbian? How would people react to it? Why go far, how would my people-my family react to it? Will they accept me? Will they love me, the way they did before I let them have a peep in my world or will they judge me? Criticize me, condemn me or demonize me?
As if it were God’s sanction to my plan, a couple of minutes later, my Mother entered my room. Conversing with my sister, she paid little heed to what I was occupied in, until, in a very matter-of-factly tone, I asked her a simple question. “I have not been attracted to guys in a while, I think, I’m a lesbian. Will you have problem if I get you a ‘bahu’?” Though I couldn’t predict her response, yet I knew it would be preceded by a long awkward silence. The sooner she broke the silence, the better. This way or that way, it was a simple choice she had to make, or was it simple at all? I guess, not! She stared at me as if all hell had broken lose on her head. Visibly, my statement had taken her in a virtual state of shock. “But why?” She kept on protesting. “Why would you do such a thing? Aise khayal kyu aate hai tumhare mann mein? Are you not fine?”
Disappointed I was, but not with her. I had nothing against her, nothing to blame her. This was the truth, and I must say, I appreciate her honesty. She was against it, but not hypocritical. There was a clarity in her head, as to what she thought was right and what was not. She didn’t pretend to be a progressive Indian woman, resident of a globalized-modernized world, yet holding at heart, retrograde, repressive notions.
No matter, how at ease, a handful of people of my generation are, in according a ready acceptance to the homosexual way of life, the picture is far too grim on the other side. And this sorry state of affairs cannot and will not change overnight. When an ochre robed baba, expresses his views and condemns homosexuality as a disease that has plagued a fistful, we react acrimoniously, criticizing him on his conservative and narrow mindset. His limitation as a human becomes a rambling target for many of us, ready to deprecate him at the drop of a hat. I too have been enraged by the comments of such people, condemned their myopic vision for having compartmentalized the gender binary; by affixing legal acceptance and “normality” to heterosexuality, and denouncing any other form of sexuality, relegating it to the sphere of the “abnormal”.
But this video today made me ponder, a little further. Vitriolic comments condemning homosexuality by such fakirs, babas, nationalist leaders, politicians, civil society- boils our blood. All of us, the so-called supporters of modernity, broadminded folks, active participants of queer parades, vociferous advocates of My Body My Right My Choice, are very open and empathetic to the Right to Choice of Sexual Orientation a human being should have as an inalienable right, and viewpoints that deviate from our own, become the target of our resentment. However, how many of us, have bothered to take a look, back at our own homes? How do our parents feel about it? Are they willing, as yet, to broaden the set horizons of acceptable and unacceptable that they have drawn up in their heads?
Rarely does a case come to the fore like that of Mumbai based Ms. Padma Iyer who had shown no reluctance in giving out a matrimonial ad seeking a groom for her gay son. Though this episode did draw flak from a section of the community, which was upset at the temerity of the mother-son duo, yet it was hailed as a bold, yet thoughtful, attempt by many; a true symbol of progressive unfettered mindset.
Well, while Mr. Harish Iyer is certainly lucky to have a mother like her, most gay people are not. They are condemned to a lamentable life where they are forced into silence on questions of their orientation or are obscured from the familial network at the thought of bringing shame and bad name. And I today, probably got to bite a slice from the everyday lives, the homosexuals lead.
The remarks from my mother did upset me, yet I don’t hold her to blame. Her generation and above, are opposed to this idea because, we must not forget that the sensitization that is coming about today, did not exist in her time. Gay people did not come out that freely in the open; there were no queer parades, no debates on national television to bring about awareness. They were very much ignorant of the existence of such a lot. And this is probably the reason why a complete acceptance of the homosexual community hasn’t come about as yet. However, I strongly feel that as long as they are exercising this disposition of theirs within the four walls of their private lives and are not a nuisance to the society, why then should they be criminalized?
Though winds of change have started to blow, with this commercial ad going viral, however, one must be patient as in a diverse country like ours, this change can only be brought about gradually.
In the background of such scenario prevalent at home, this ‘out of the closet’ tv ad promoted by online retail giants- myntra and flipkart, makes a strong case for rights of the homosexuals, and brings out an overwhelming sense of strength and empowerment for this community, as well as for the entire society to be accommodative of all kinds of individual freedoms, and brings out the message loud and clear, in opposition to the criminalization of homosexuality by the Judiciary, that love triumphs law and that it is a matter of time, this battle too, shall be won.