Not all that gets rained on gets drenched
It could have been any rainy monsoon evening in Mumbai, and the city, after months of oppressive summer heat, is dancing in joy, too relieved to be bothered by roads that will become glorified potholes in a few days. For now, the city breathes easy. And with the first monsoon shower, as sure as the smell of rain-soaked earth, come out The Lovers. Holding hands, sneaking a cuddle under the cosy confines of an auto, or under a shared umbrella. Just such a scene once unfolded in front of me: two lovers, out in the rain under a big, black umbrella, laughing at some insignificant joke as they looked lovingly into each others’ eyes. Mumbai being what it is, nobody really cares what you do so long as you’re not getting in their way. That’s a commonly shared sensibility of the city – mind your own business.
Jumping to conclusions is not the only way to exercise
Alas, they were too quick to believe in the goodness of Mumbai. In the ultra-posh suburb of Bandra, they were walking in one of the toniest streets – Carter Road (yes, next to the sea, where Rekha lives. No, Salman lives a few kilometres away). They were soon being booed at and bullied, and from the looks of their harassers, things could turn pretty ugly pretty soon.
Not typical, you say? Ah, I get it now – you are making the same mistake those two did. You see, the lovers were both men – the nonchalance of Mumbai apparently did not extend to homosexual men, and in the best tradition of bullying and oppression, those two men were pushed off public space, and made to feel guilty for it, too.
Homophobia – a misnomer
It made me think – why this persistent hatred for homosexuality and gay men? For starters, I find the word homophobia very illogical – people who have a pathological fear of heights suffer from acrophobia; of closed spaces, from claustrophobia; of water, from hydrophobia. And so on. But homoPHOBIA? I mean, seriously, what are homo”phobes” afraid of? That being around gay men or lesbian women will somehow harm them? Or turn them gay through homosexual induction? The answer, in my opinion, is that they term their hatred phobia, because fear is less despicable than hatred and prejudice.
Flawed thinking, flawed logic
Let me run through some of the common arguments against homosexuality and against decriminalizing homosexuality in India:
1. It’s against our culture: One of the most tiresome, tedious arguments ever. Everything that does not conform to some majority is “of course” against our culture. TV was against our culture, then cable TV was against our culture, then the Internet was against our culture; at one point of time (Boycott Movement) even clothes made of synthetic fibres were against our culture! Culture is not a fixed entity, nor a moral absolute that one must diverge from only at the risk of gross immorality. Among the things our “culture” accepted and encouraged were Sati and dowry – enough said! Do you still think cutlure is a valid argument?
2. It’s against nature – Many people say that one must use one’s body as nature intends it to be used. By “defiling” one’s body in gross sexual malpractices, one goes against nature, which is again a big N-O no. This argument is simpler to refute – if things should be used as nature intends them to, then dyeing one’s hair is a sin, and so is living in a high rise, and so is the Internet. Really…?
3. If today they are allowed to sleep with men, tomorrow they will molest children and animals – This is a very illogical argument, and I’m going to stick to attacking only one aspect of the argument. Why do people equate men having consensual sex with other men to men raping children, or bestiality? Don’t straight men molest young girls? Then why single out gay men only? Secondly, bestiality is out of the discussion, since animals cannot give consent in any accepted sense of the word.
4. Being gay is all in the mind; if they wanted, they could become straight – With all due respect, people who think sexuality is a choice should consider if they would be equally capable of switching over to the other side. All you straight men and women out there – can you CHOOSE to enjoy making love to a person of your own gender (of course you can be coerced to – but that’s not the point) Why do we assume we know better than them what is going on their minds and hearts?
Standing up for what’s right
Ultimately it boils down to respect and humanity – would you want to be discriminated against for something that was out of your control, like the colour of your eyes or your height, or your religion or caste or gender? People who want to discriminate will always find their justifications and excuses. As someone said, the mark of a true revolutionary lies in their ability to feel outraged on behalf of ANY group, no matter how far removed from their personal experience. Do you plan to stand with equality and love and respect, or do you plan to side with discrimination and prejudice?
Are there any other arguments that you might have against homosexuality? Please do not argue from religion because not everybody follows the same religion, and even very religious people sometimes do not follow all that is to be followed in their religion.
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