Will India Ever be Free of Homophobia? What Are We Waiting For?
No Indian with a straight face can deny that sex is a taboo subject in India. If the simple mention of sex can cause so much hullabaloo in our society, it is no surprise to see all hell break loose at the very mention of homosexuality.
While sex is still acknowledged in mildly suggestive themes, homosexuality is not. Society tends to think that by not talking about it and pretending it does not exist, we can stop homosexuality in its tracks of the supposed utter destruction of our culture.
The term ‘Homosexual’ would be used as a derogatory term to criticise peers whenever they would come up short.
A good example of this dates back to when I was a cricket-playing teenager. I was the batsman on strike. The bowler bowled, I swung the bat. And I miss. My irate teammates say (in my native language, Assamese) something on the lines of: “Ki bal kori aso? Maiki/Suwali nisina kio kheli aso, lora nisina khel”. This translates to: “WTF are you doing? Stop playing like a homosexual or a woman, and play like a man”.
In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo moved out of England to play for Real Madrid, the football club that I religiously support. At the time, my friends who supported rival football clubs would often use the term homosexual to criticise Ronaldo.
The 15-year-old me would exhaust his vocal cords while yelling during arguments trying to establish Ronaldo as a heterosexual. In my mind, there was no greater insult in the world than being called a homosexual man. There was no way my teenage version would accept someone calling Ronaldo gay. The later years of my teenage life were dedicated to defending Ronaldo’s alleged sexual preferences. Ronaldo is not a homosexual man, but, what if he was? How is his sexual preference even relevant?
Another individual whom I admire is Shah Rukh Khan. He is one of the most successful actors in the world and it is safe to assume that he doesn’t lose any sleep when his detractors accuse him of being a Pakistani sympathiser and Hafeez Sayeed’s BFF.
Gossip rags often call SRK Karan Johar’s lover. Let’s assume they are, in fact, lovers. So bloody what? Are we happy now? How is this a measure of his acting prowess? Yet, every time SRK tweets or makes the news, it is usually trolled with comments about his sexuality. I will admit, I have at times chuckled at some of these. To be fair, taking a jibe at Shah Rukh’s poor choice of movies of late is logical and has merit, but using homophobic slurs to take shots at him is just moronic.
Imagine a group of Indian youngsters fighting. While physical violence may or may not come into play, you know things are bound to get to the point where they decide to insult each others’ mothers and sisters. You’re also bound to hear one of them call the other gay and mean it as an insult. There is no logic here.
How I Met Your Mother had Josh Radnor play the role of Ted Mosby, the protagonist. It wasn’t Ted who stole the show but Barney Stinson – played by out and proud gay man, Neil Patrick Harris. The West had no problem accepting a gay man playing the ultimate ladies’ man. When will we start?
I, personally, plead guilty and repent at my subconscious and unintentional contribution to this evil social stigma – for the things I did when I was younger and my brain was filled with poop.
We, as a society, need to wake up fast. Before adding rainbow filters and backgrounds to our display photographs to celebrate equal rights for the queer community in other countries, we may want to first want to ensure that members of the community in our country enjoy hassle-free lives and equal rights.
(Naguib Anam hails from Assam and is a Real Madrid fanatic. His primary interests are football and combat sports. Naguib is currently employed with the Digital Team at MSL Group and is also a staff writer at Managing Madrid. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the authors' own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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