By Krishna Prasanth:
It’s interesting how homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders rarely feature in historical texts and how their role in society, and perhaps their existence in itself, goes unrecognized. So much so that many educated people have come to ascribe modernity and consequent moral corruption as the causes of homosexuality and bisexuality, although people of both kinds were always there in the society, downtrodden and stigmatized, forced to sexually behave in ways which weren’t their natural tendencies.
The society always was repulsive and still continues to struggle in its attempts to breakdown this stigma towards these so called “unnatural” people, but progress has undeniably been made, which is something unprecedented and heartening. But what one must understand is that while references to LGBTQs in historical texts are rare, the fact that such references even exist across the timeline does mean that such people always existed and aren’t a new breed of “morally corrupt” people. Plato wrote about homosexuality in his book Symposium and Alexander the Great was also known to have been interested in boys and young men.
The social faction most ardently against homosexuality is the religious orthodoxy. They believe homosexuality is a ‘sin’ and ‘morally unacceptable’. It is intriguing that homosexuality is considered a sin when the desire to be homosexual is essentially natural and instinctive, just like heterosexuality is. How can a person be blamed for something over which they have no control. Is being true to one’s nature, natural identity and orientation a crime? The problem with these orthodox segments in every religion is their blind belief in religious texts and scriptures, without even the slightest desire to reason out such beliefs. Hence, their views should be wholeheartedly disregarded and not even considered for discussion because they aren’t backed by any reasoned argumentation or genuine concern, but blind irrational following. Catholics have anyways come around on the idea of accepting and using condoms, thanks to immense rebuke and ridicule from across the world, and it’s only a matter of time before they come around on this as well.
But just accepting their presence in the society doesn’t help as long as they are not allowed to be a part of important social structures, like the institution of family. It’s disappointing when people of immense social stature believe that LGBTQs can’t actually create and run families and somehow them doing so is against the idea of a family. Here again, conservatives like them just talk about the idea of family while never explicitly arguing the idea of family in itself and why a male and female are so necessary for this institution to remain meaningful.
Families aren’t as much about having a female or a male as they are about the qualities that they bring to the table in order to fulfill the purpose of any well-functioning family. A family, generally, is about a healthy couple contributing emotionally and economically to each other and eventually continuing their lineage by raising children, all of which happens under a legal contract. Contributing emotionally is a matter of mutual feeling which will always be subject to the strength of their relationship irrespective of whether they are homo or hetero-sexuals or even transgenders. Economically supporting children is not a big issue and again depends from person to person irrespective of sexual orientation. As far as raising children is concerned, it really is about the determination and the zeal to raise them, teach them habits and virtues and economically support them.
Ellen Lewin, an anthropologist at the University of Iowa and the author of the book ‘Gay Fatherhood’ says that gay fathers in the United States indicate that the desire to have children is part of finding happiness or satisfaction in life, particularly as they mature. Another motive is to pass on their own values and traditions, just as heterosexual parents do.
“I interviewed several guys who adopted kids with disabilities or other challenges and basically gave their lives up for their children,” says Lewin. “But most weren’t out to be heroes or do something revolutionary by becoming gay fathers. Most were ordinary people who live in suburbs, go to Disney World for their vacations, and just want to have children like anyone else.”
This understanding of gay fathers and lesbian mothers as ‘ordinary people’ is really important. This understanding also applies to transgenders, bisexuals and queers who wish to enter into similar familial structures. People must understand that the success of social and interpersonal relationships depend upon social virtues, values and character, and not sex or sexual orientation. The natural instincts that these people possess must be respected and they must be allowed to manifest, just like heterosexuals or the so called ‘ordinary people’ are.
This debate about LGBTQs’ legitimacy as a legally accepted sexual orientation and whether couples from such orientation should be allowed the legal tag of ‘family’ is at the end of the day, more of a majority-minority issue than perhaps anything else. The majority always fails to understand the minority and doesn’t accord them the rights they deserve as fellow human beings, examples of which are in abundance across the human history. What always will remain important in such situations is the understanding that the people in the minority are as much human, as much natural and as much ordinary as the people in the majority are.