Coming Out in Support of the Rainbow Filter

While some may just be jumping onto the rainbow profile picture bandwagon, support in any form is welcome.

Updated20 Oct 2015, 07:58 AM IST
India
3 min read

To all the critics of the rainbow profile pictures on Facebook,

During my school years, which weren’t all that long ago, laughing at the effeminate boy or the butch girl with short hair, and calling them ‘gay’ was considered cool. Anybody who didn’t fit the heteronormative box, was laughed at. Today, adding translucent rainbow colours to your display picture on Facebook, in support of the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US, is the new cool.

Quite a shift, I’d say.

For everybody who’s criticising the rainbow-coloured Facebook photos as wannabes jumping onto the new “cool” bandwagon, here is a thought.

Don’t immediately look for the purest understanding of an issue. Change never takes place on the basis of the most refined form of an idea. It takes time for the evolution of social understanding. So, use the first level of acceptance as a stepping stone and move towards refinement. Who holds the moral authority to reject support from any quarter?

A man holds a U.S. and a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington after the court legalised gay marriage nationwide in USA.  (Photo: AP)
A man holds a U.S. and a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington after the court legalised gay marriage nationwide in USA. (Photo: AP)

The assumption that behind every rainbow profile picture on FB, is an uninformed me-too, betrays the critic’s belief in his/her own intellectual superiority. The critic, it seems, can choose to support or not support these issues because s/he is an informed individual, but everyone else is not.

This is a problem. Change comes about when an idea becomes mainstream and this happens when it catches the fancy of the people. And why is that a bad thing?

Many of the people changing their Facebook pictures will still crack an insensitive gay joke or laugh at one. Some of them will still be uncomfortable in the presence of people who identify with alternate sexualities. And yes, we know that the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the United States of America doesn’t make it legal in India.

We also know that same-sex marriage in India is probably a distant dream with issues like caste, class and religion creating further barriers to the expression of love in the country. We also know America isn’t the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.

At the same time, we don’t hide from the reality that the USA is one of the biggest cultural influencers in the world. Our support for the US SC’s ruling and our understanding of India’s struggles and recognition of all the work that still remains to be done are not mutually exclusive.

A participant holds up a sign during the Delhi Queer Pride Parade in November 2014. (Photo: Esha Paul)
A participant holds up a sign during the Delhi Queer Pride Parade in November 2014. (Photo: Esha Paul)

When the Supreme Court of India overruled the Delhi High Court on Section 377, not all the people who have changed their profile pictures now were enraged or spoke out. Does that, now, take away their human agency to either change their minds or make a more informed choice if that’s what they’re attempting to do?

Get off that lofty moral high-horse. Recognise that there is a lot more to be done and snap up every little victory you get along the way.

And after USA, it’s our move, India.

Yours hopefully,

A rainbow coloured Facebook profile picture.

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Published: 29 Jun 2015, 01:03 PM IST

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