By Moumita Ghosh:
Remember the basic premise of X-men: The Last Stand (2006), where a major pharmaceutical company found a “way” to suppress the mutant X gene and called it a “cure”? Well, something along those lines happened in our country quite recently.
Indeed, what news to begin the week with, folks!
Monday, observed as National Youth Day, saw the launch of the Goa State Youth Policy 2015 at Panaji, where the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister of Goa, Ramesh Tawadkar, also a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was quoted as quipping – “We will make them normal. We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholics Anonymous centres, we will have centres…”. Elaborating on the role of such centres, he further added – “We will train them and (give them) medicines too.” In case you are wondering who the term “they” represents in the above statements, Tawadkar is talking about the LGBT community. This news does not come across as much of a surprise. Does it? Not in a country which ‘criminalizes’ citizens who would not ‘get laid’, to use the colloquial term, in the exact way as dictated by the ‘order of nature’. Not in a country where slogans which ask the State to get out of our bedrooms such as “Amar shorir, amar mon. Durr hnato raaj shashon!” (My body, my mind. Step away, State rule!) and the like, fall on deaf ears. At best, they fall on the amused gaze of the bystanders on the street who retreat to their conditioned existence once the ‘spectacle’ gets over.
On Tuesday evening though, the minister manoeuvred a complete U-turn when he realized that his idea of vikaas and his genuine concern about the ‘disease’ which afflicts the youth was indeed, politically incorrect and instead, blamed the media for misquoting him, saying – “I was misunderstood and misquoted. I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths”. This news also takes us back to 2011 when the then Health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad called homosexuality “unnatural” and dubbed it as a disease. The turn of events were similar to the Goa scenario when Azad issued a statement that it was not “gay sex” he was speaking against, but he was trying to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. Previously he had said that homosexuality was essentially a foreign pollutant, later he clarified that he only meant to say that HIV/AIDS had come from foreign shores.
In the movie, against the backdrop of a fictional premise, the pharmaceutical company was trying to find a cure for what was a “genetic disorder” and in the world of our lived reality, our politicians are trying to find a “cure” for what they consider to be, a “gender disorder”. The film at least had a point because gene is after all, biological, but gender was never about fixed biological territories. It’s sad that one needs to seek the permission of the State for something as basic as one’s expression of gender and preference of sexual positions. Be it homophobia or a century-old mental conditioning, the people who really suffer are those who cannot fully realize their gender identities under the dogma of the State and some of its ‘pious’ citizens.
On the other end of the spectrum, as a friend constantly feels the need to stress on the fact that he is after all, “straight”, while vociferously voicing his support for LGBT rights, I feel tired to think that it is a while, and a very long while at that, for the LGBT community to be accommodated in the societal mainstream and to be stopped being viewed as the perpetual “other”. For now, it is in propagandist cinema, academic and journalistic writing and rainbow parades but miles to go before the neighbouring aunt stops gasping at the ‘homo’ in her apartment.