In India, relationships that do not have the sanction of matrimony are not widely accepted and often invite foul stares.
No matter how big and wide this nation is with diversity in ethnicity, race, caste and creed, everything is plagued with social stigmas that manifest its presence through a well-established system of moral policing.
We do not approve of live-in relationships because apparently they ruin our “culture”. In such an India, imagine what would need to happen for people to accept same-sex relationships!
For most, accepting such relationships is a matter of changing their mindset but even though it is still a crime to be queer in India, what with Section 377 back in place, the rising voices against it also give me hope that our society seems to be opening up its heart gradually.
Couples who are in ‘unorthodox’ relationships find it difficult to survive in the society due to fear and oppression. Most are averse to coming out clean because their family and kin might not take it in the right spirit.
But what we all overlook is that love is love, no matter what its shape and form. We are no one to tell others about their choice of partners. It is a violation their fundamental rights. People often discourage same-sex relationships due to their own mental block which is wrong. Such matters should not be for others to decide.
Looking for how pop culture sees this love, I recently came across an ad by Anouk about a lesbian couple waiting for their parents to arrive so that they can come out clean and share the happiness of their relationship with them. The simplicity is the beauty of this ad; love – pure and chaste. It’s all so mesmerizing. All it has to say is it doesn’t matter who you choose as your partner, what matters in a relationship is the love, faith and confidence that you share with your partner.
Not even once did I feel, that the ad had anything obscene that could probably ruin our “Indian culture”. This was a simple ad which depicts the bond between two women. Take a look:
What touched me about this ad is the way it portrays the innocence in the relationship. I came across this ad a few days back on YouTube, and it really helped change how I previously thought of same-sex couples. I mean, what they feel is no different than what a ‘normal’ heterosexual couple would go through and which society wouldn’t bat an eyelid against!
However, pop culture has taken its due time to open doors for such topics, but we all know, that some don’t follow the herd.
Among films, the path breaker was probably Deepa Mehta, when she made her first installment of her elements trilogy, Fire (1996), a movie well ahead of its time – that was loosely based on Ismat Chugtai’s 1941 story, ‘Lihaf’. The story of the love and passion that grows between two married women in a stifling and controlling household.
Bollywood, mostly, has been rather homophobic and quite frequently still continues by using homosexual characters and relationships on screen as a comic trope (think Dostana).
But even as things look like they are changing, let’s see how this great democracy with its vocal and aware citizens continues to hold on to these biases and chooses to deprive others of their basic right to love someone freely.