A lot has been said and written about homosexuality, a subject that more often than not meets with vehement opposition, especially in our country. I believe one of the arguments put forth by our ‘moral guardians’ is that it is against our culture. This homophobia leads to severe verbal and physical resistance from families and subsequent ostracization from the society. Not to mention the fact that there is still no legal acceptance of homosexual couples here, which leads to a lot of difficulty in matters of property, adoption etc. One can get a fair idea regarding the reaction of most Indian parents when they are informed about their child’s alternative sexuality from that of Mrs. Kirron Kher’s character when she discovered that her onscreen son is in a same-sex relationship in the movie ‘Dostana’! But the wedding of Seema and Shannon that took place in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago provided a refreshing change. Not only was the wedding conducted in a completely traditional Indian manner but also the couple received full support of their families.
There is so much we can learn from the fact that an Indian family happily accepted their daughter’s decision and participated in her wedding. In a country where homosexuals have to deal with immense social stigma, emotional and psychological agony, outright rejection of their sexual identities by their families, physical torture and a compulsion to marry people of the opposite sex, it was indeed heart warming to see Seema’s parents partake in the wedding celebrations . Their gesture is nothing but a mature understanding of the fact that even though they may seem different from heterosexual couples, homosexuals share similar values, hopes and dreams. From this and all other homosexual nuptials, the least we can do is to drive home the point that as long as there is companionship between two men or two women, it should be enough to grant the couple societal acceptance.
The episode has made me wonder about how long will it take for us to replicate such instances in our land; perhaps not till the time we continue to recognize a person’s sexual orientation as some ‘disease’ to be cured. We need to understand the difference between one’s sex and gender, the latter being nothing but a social construct and take steps towards redefining what are largely considered as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ attributes. And for anyone who believes that homosexuality is against our ‘culture’ (which, by the way is as pluralistic as it can get) primarily because the scriptures contain no such reference; let me inform you that we have numerous references to the same in Vatsyayana’s Kama Sutra itself and that the traditions of representing same-sex desire in literature and art continued in medieval Hinduism as well as Indian Islam. It was firmly established by Saleem Kidwai and Ruth Vanita in Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History.
It is high time that we realize that the days of creating outcastes are long over. Other than homophobia, bigotry or sheer ignorance, there is nothing that can possibly explain the disdain for homosexual marriages. Isn’t it plain absurdity on our part that even though the Supreme Court of India has decriminalized homosexuality in 2009, we have not yet been able to incorporate the spirit of equality and inclusiveness that formed the backbone of this landmark decision while dealing with homosexual couples? I believe that if two people, irrespective of their gender, decide to live their lives together with love and commitment, the least we can do as a society is to give them our best wishes and not death threats.