I saw a video you recently posted, which maybe you think is meant to empower gay couples, and I need to tell you how utterly upsetting it is.
The video has over 60,000 views on Facebook, and honestly, I don’t think it deserves any of the attention it has garnered so far. The said video opens up with a bearded ‘gay’ guy creeping up on his – straight roommate? Best friend? I don’t really know what. There’s a ‘straight’ chap irking his shoulders and calling his gay companion names like “nangi aurat.” Cut to the next scene and the two bearded dudes are enjoying a drive in a balmy sunny afternoon, when the ‘gay’ man grabs the hand of the ‘straight’ one, only to be insulted again. (You do realize homosexuality isn’t the same as hiccups, right? We gay men don’t get sudden and uncontrollable bouts of grabbing the hand of any male around us.) Later, we see the ‘gay’ dude first dancing to some supposedly seductive or romantic number in the bedroom, and travelling faster than the speed of light to haunt the seemingly distressed and frightened ‘straight’ boy on the couch, and then the video ends (thank God!).
I reached out to you on Facebook, asking you to take down the video. Which you did. But you and I still need to talk.
“Tag All Your Gay Friends” the video read. I wonder if people who enjoyed the video have gay friends to introduce them to a reality they seem so detached from. Personal misconceptions aren’t any of my concern. But turning them into a video and utilising your influence over social media to propagate homophobia is!
Perhaps you and your followers cannot relate to the everyday-struggles, troubles and tribulations of the gay community because hey, as you said in your comment with the laughing emoji, you are a straight dude, right? Moreover, you have the beard game going on for you, hence further affirming your cisgender, hyper-masculinity!
Perhaps it was just one of those days when sense chooses to absolutely abandon the human race, because there were people not only appreciating your “acting skills” but also calling the same a “mood-elevator”, “awesome” and whatnot!
But I, for one, am clearly not amused. Here is a reality check for you, Rishhsome, and for more than 60,000 people who have watched, liked or appreciated this completely distasteful video.
This video does not empower but short-sells the everyday-struggles of the gay community – and I am not even touching upon the entire spectrum of the LGBTQAI+ lives here. It reduces us from the status of being humans, and puts us back to being the laughing stock of the society. When I finally started believing in Bollywood again after their sensitive portrayal of homosexuality in movies like “Kapoor and Sons” and “Aligarh”, your video brings back blasts from the past, like Abhishek Bachchan and his contemporaries prancing around in “Dostana”, mocking the gay community, condensing our lives, hopes and aspirations to merely a bunch of effeminate stereotypes, packed up in pink.
I know systematic oppression, alienation, and discrimination from society would never have been part of your formative years, like it was for so many of the gay men you feel entitled to mock in the name of light humour.
Not only was this video insulting to the gay community, it was also misogynist. I fail to understand why anyone would refer to a shirtless, bearded, seemingly cisgender guy as “nangi aurat” because he is gay. Listen to me carefully now, because I am going to tell you a secret that is going to change your life. I don’t think anyone ever told you this before, but Females and Gay Men are NOT THE SAME THING. And if you think calling bearded gay dudes “aurat” is supposed to be insulting, you are simply someone who believes males are superior to females.
These “gay friends”, that everyone is having so much fun mocking in the video, are real people. They are students, employees, entrepreneurs, and more; besides trying their best to safeguard their fundamental right to live with dignity and privacy, they also have to fight a colonial law like Section 377.
There are gay guys, who collect sleeping pills every night, simply to end their existence. There are young gay teens living in hostels that are bullied and sexually abused every night, simply because they are ‘effeminate’ and, apparently, cannot stand up against a gang of powerful, privileged, macho bullies.
We don’t need comedy like this to ‘empower’! We need people to stop appropriating us and our lives, all for the simple need to gain more followers and subscribers. We need fans and subscribers to actually introspect, check their privilege and utilise the same to heal the world that has systematically oppressed, abused and appropriated marginalised communities.
Each gay person in India is strong and resilient. Every day that we struggle to express and assert ourselves, fight or negotiate with the oppressive system and society, we empower ourselves. Every gay teen or ageing elder gay man, choosing to live instead of ending his life, is already empowered.
We fight the law and the government alike for respect and dignity, but it looks like we now have to spend our time fighting videos like these, too.