I recently heard a politician say:
“Consensual sex between two people of the same gender is unnatural. We do not support it. Those who support it, must have their own reasons (shrugs dismissively). I don’t know what their reasons are. All I know is that this kind of western thinking is dangerous to our way of life. Our stand is perfectly aligned to Indian culture and ethos.”
(I have quoted from memory and I have paraphrased; these were not the exact words used.)
This is my reply to that unnamed politician:
Dear Mr Politician,
You don’t know my reasons for supporting LGBT relationships. I’d like to tell you why I support them. Let me begin at the beginning.
I don’t support homosexual relations because I am a homosexual; nor because someone in my family is- at least as of now. I don’t know about the future. One of my kids might emerge to be one and that would be fine by me. My reason is that I don’t think a person’s sexual orientation has anything to do with her human-ness. Also, my personal theme is acceptance- as that on my Indian culture. Your Indian culture seems to be some other bird, not the same as mine.
You are fond of falling back upon our culture and traditions as your sole argument for upholding the recent ruling on section 377. You make homosexuality to be a western fad. It is not. Let us talk about Indian culture and traditions and what’s dangerous to our way of life.
India is not one culture. We have never been narrow- neither in matters of faith, nor of personal freedom. Holier than thou has never sat well upon us. We live and let live.
A five thousand year old culture couldn’t have survived if it had insulated itself from the life that throbs all around it. Living things, when kept in closed containers, begin to rot. They must keep the air circulating. They must breathe in and out. They must assimilate and incorporate; grow and transform. Please don’t think I am trying to give you a lesson in elementary evolution but that is how living things survive. They adopt and adapt.
India has always done exactly that. She has absorbed new influences, digested them, and made them her own. After absorbing each new influence, she has emerged more vibrant and robust than before. Her colors have shone deeper; her light has glowed brighter. It is to witness- and admire- this diversity that thousands of world citizens flock to her shores every year.
India has never been afraid of prodigiously throwing her doors open to all life. She is too secure in her ability to flourish. She doesn’t believe in rejection; her theme has always been acceptance. She embraces and nurtures all that come into her arms- equally and without prejudice. There has always been room for everybody in her arms. Is that the culture you spoke of? Somehow, I think not.
The cornerstone of Indian ethos and spirituality has been a belief that each one of us is a soul visiting the earth for a human experience. We reincarnate and are reborn after each life- cycle. I maybe a woman in this birth but may have been a man in the last. She, who is my close friend in this birth, may have been my beloved wife in the last. He, who is my husband in this birth, may have been my daughter in the last. The sympathy, the closeness between us is strong enough to hint at a past connect. But you tell me that my closeness with another soul is unnatural. You tell me that I am forbidden from expressing my adulation to another soul. You tell me it is dangerous if I do so. Is that the culture you are talking of? Somehow, I think not.
As a vibrant, living culture, India has also let go of things which she knew wouldn’t serve her for the long haul. She changed her ways when those ways began looking like the roads to perdition. When it was time to change, she didn’t split hairs and bandied about a lot of rhetoric about whose idea it was. She did what she found judicious (no pun intended) and that was that.
In the recent past, the acid of intolerance has begun eating away at India. It is made virulent and potent by a phenomenal hypocrisy. They are both manifested- and thus nurtured- by a growing trend to marginalize. India is for the mainstream majority the ignoramus clamors! Anyone who doesn’t have the clout of numbers is to be disregarded. This, in case you were never told, is the mentality of a school bully who refuses to grow up.
We make no provisions for children who are differently-abled. We have no facilities for people who are different from the majority- in THAT particular area. If we do make provisions, they are made in ways that rob the recipient of her basic dignity by turning her into an object of pity. We turn people into helpless cripples by treating them that way. I know the secret thought in your mind as you read these words is a feeling of exultation expressed (sic) by the words she is likening LGBTs to people with physical disabilities!
All I will say is: only a pedestrian intellect would jump to such a conclusion!
The issue here is of marginalizing those who are different from the majority. The glee with which this stratification is put in place makes me shrink in distaste. Each one of us is different from the majority in some way. To me you may be different because you have lost the use of a limb, to you I might be different because I am blind. Where are we going, segregating and sidelining each other on flimsy pretexts? If I were you, THIS is the thing I would have found dangerous, not something as natural as expressing love for another soul.
Today you call me a criminal because I want to do something which is personal and private; doesn’t harm anyone else; is nobody’s business but mine. Tomorrow you might suddenly decree that smelling a rose is an offense and those who smell one are criminals!
Let me spell it out for you.
I find this trend of manufacturing criminals dangerous. I protest against this attempt to silence and decimate those who are different from the majority. I find the concept of anyone infringing on my personal freedom- which is NOT at the cost of anyone else’s liberty- to be repulsively offensive. Most vociferously do I raise my voice against your demand that I shut my house to life giving sunshine! I refuse to do it! If this makes me a criminal in your eyes, I’ll just say this: I don’t recognize your right to adjudge me one!
We, Mr Politician, are not criminals. Remember that the next time you spread yourself out on the topic of Indian culture and what’s dangerous for it. With all due respect, you have NO idea what you are talking about.
A non-criminal citizen of free India.
Please also read: Why Homosexuality Should Be Encouraged In India. It is written by fellow blogger Amit Sharma who lets it lose in a grinning- with- my- teeth- clenched manner. More that worth reading. I nodded so many times while reading it that I nearly dislocated my neck. Almost, you ghoul, not quite!