“No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive”
The lyrics are sourced from a Lady Gaga song called ‘Born This Way‘ which is all about unconditional acceptance, being and loving oneself and lays a special emphasis on homosexuality. The question that I seek to put forth is, do we really need a Lady Gaga to help those who belong to the LGBT community feel empowered? Why can’t we as a society accept people the way they are?
There is no denying the fact that a major chunk of our society discriminates against those who belong to the LGBT community. In fact, a study has shown that 40 percent of the homeless youth in the world are a part of this community. Nitika Biswas of Sappho, Kolkata says: ”People consider homosexuals as abnormal as they are less informed. Homosexuals are afraid of what the society is going to think and say because the society follows heterosexuality. Parents are afraid of how their kids are going to be perceived if he/she is a homosexual, so that is another major problem”.
Mr Rajarshi Chakraborty of Dum Dum Swikriti Society explains: ”People who are homophobic cannot understand the issue- the fact that there can be desires and feelings which do not exactly correspond to theirs. If they were aware of the issues, they would have seen all of this differently”
When asked about why a large number of people are still hesitant to come out of the closet, Ms Biswas explains: ”It is because we have been brought up that way. I have been taught from the start that a boy is supposed to marry a girl and vice versa- that is why they can’t open up. Most of the people in general do not look beyond heterosexual relationships”.Â We may label ourselves as a progressive society, but a large number of people still associate homosexuality with abnormality. Anything outside the sanctified bonds of marriage between a male and a female are looked down upon. The community continues to be a highly stereotyped one where people do not make an effort to look outside of what they perceive of the LGBT in the west.
However, what is heartening is the fact that societies like Sappho and Swikriti have succeeded in creating a great amount of awareness. Nitika of Sappho says: ”We started our newsletter in 2004 with 500 copies of 5 bucks each and we have now sold some 5000 copies in 2012, which is a huge achievement for us. We can talk to people through the newsletter and today we have parents coming in for counselling along with their children who have decided to come out of the closet. The police has begun to cooperate too through helplines and so have the medical departments”
Moreover, the belief that people belonging to societies such as these, have in the media is nothing but encouraging. A positive attitude is what is absolutely necessary and positive stories need to reach as many people as possible in order to get them to change their perception of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. Maybe then the whole idea of equality shall come true.