This year, the 11 of October, the National Coming Out Day passed with no hoohah about it. I spent the evening at a Disco Dandiya party oblivious to the stories of impassioned struggle and repressed people that stayed hidden behind the hours and minutes of the historic date. The internet wasn’t plastered with pictures or messages, there weren’t marches on the beach, nothing to remind me of the day.
The tranquil that the 11th saw could be because the fire to fight has relented or because acceptance and consequently assimilation has become common and hence a single day to exhibit vehemence is not so necessary anymore. I write today hoping that it’s the latter but knowing it isn’t. I believe we’ve come a long way. The world has definitely become kinder and more accepting. But this isn’t it.
The biggest milestone in the recent past has been the unbelievable change in the erstwhile rigid stance held by the Catholic Church. With the coming of the new Pope, Pope Francis, in March this year, the church seems to have loosened its grip on sexuality. While the Pope believes the homosexual acts are sinful, he also believes in acceptance of homosexual people. That, of course, isn’t complete acceptance, but tolerance is certainly a huge step. Pope Francis is known to have said “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?” The Catholic community at large, following the head of the Papacy, has modified the way it sees sexuality. As of today, a handful of countries and 18 states in the US have legalized same-sex marriage.
In India, not much has changed since the massive ruling in 2009 when consensual homosexual acts were declared legal in consistency with the right to freedom of expression of the Constitution. After the uproar that the Delhi court’s ruling created then abated, life has been the same for the Indian LGBT community. This year, on the 4th anniversary of the day of the ruling, 4000 balloons were let free by the LGBT community, in memory of the significant day. Despite the legalization which is only one aspect of the battle, the easier one (which in itself has a long road ahead), life for the gay and the lesbian Indians has been as difficult as it used to be. Social acceptance is the missing aspect and the more important one.
English TV shows these days show (or include episodes that show) gay couples while not making a huge deal about they being gay. Someone is gay, it ends there, nothing more. Bollywood has begun to embrace homosexuality too. This, in some inconspicuous way, is gradually causing minds to even more gradually move towards acceptance. The impact of English shows however is mostly confined to the urban minority in the multi-classed society of India. Any change in the other classes will involve causative factors and measures that are truly and completely Indian. This looks like a distant reality, but possible reality nonetheless.
I hope that the world has learnt and for the sake of humanity, continues to learn to empathize and to stop judging and discriminating. I hope a day arrives when being gay is as normal as otherwise. I cannot wait to see a day when love transcends everything else.