By Enakshi Biswas:
I woke up in Mumbai to a barrage of colorful photographs sent by my parents, via WhatsApp, attending the LGBTQ Pride Parade in New York on June 26, in the wake of the Orlando shooting. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
Our parents are not exactly as open as we are about accepting things that were mostly brushed under the carpet in their times. Or at least, it was not written about so openly. Those were the skeletons that never rattled the cupboard.
This Pride Parade made my heart beat with pride when I saw my parents demonstrate their solidarity with those who have been a marginalised community facing stinging hatred from many quarters. My parents had just landed in New York in the morning and off they went, for the parade.
I see a sea change in my father. He had always been uncomfortable with the very idea of gays and lesbians. He had squirmed in his seat when watching “Bombay Talkies” where Randeep Hooda had played the role of a gay man. It was very hard for him to digest a love story that was different. And look at him now! I remember, while growing up, during my turbulent adolescent phase I had got into an argument with both my parents on the topic of freedom and blamed them for being so backward in their thinking. It led to another round of shouting and screaming where they believed media was evil to portray ‘unnatural individuals’ as heroes. It enraged me further that they considered LGBTQ people to be ‘unnatural’. But now both my parents have understood that love is love.
Today when I see my dad, mom and sister participating in a global LGBTQ parade, I take heart that people do change and evolve. As our family consists of straight people, we may not have faced the kind of discrimination the LGBTQ community does. But do we need to experience discrimination to understand it? Or can we instead, sensitise ourselves to be more thoughtful of others around us?
The LGBTQ parade upheld a certain feeling when I saw photographs of straight folks engaging with the LGBTQ community. I did ask my dad and mom out of curiosity, later, if they would want to walk in such parades held in India and they replied, “Why not?”
The kind of transformation I spotted especially in my dad; his openness, his willingness to embrace something that was out of his comfort zone, to me – is inspiring. If a 60-year-old could do so and send his daughter, photographs of his first day in New York well spent, can we not get rid of our homophobia and give the LGBTQ community, the respect they deserve?