Sexuality In India: A State Of Fickle-Mindedness

Posted by Gulraj Bedi
December 7, 2016

I find it hard to understand why LGBTQ people in India are invisibilised in corporate spaces. I’ve always seen trans people struggling to establish their identity in corporate spaces around the country. I’ve had casual chats with people and I’ve noticed glimpses of hesitation in their voices. They must have felt a bit uncomfortable when the discussion started.

At every turn, the ‘sex’ in ‘sexuality’ stands under immense danger of being silenced by our own discomfort. Censorship too, has played its part in curtailing the exposure one should get when it comes to understanding sexuality and everything related to it. Throughout my life, I’ve noticed disgust and discomfort regarding the whole idea of sex. Often this discomfort does not come out as plain and outspoken revulsion. Rather, it becomes more banal dismissals based on indecency and objectionable content. Sometimes, even words aren’t enough to explain the disgust. The word “Chee!” says it all.

Much like the turn to describing reviled things, people and ideologies as ‘anti-national’, such claims of cultural and sometimes national indecency amplify the compulsions to remain silent on just about everything related to sex, be it sexuality or the so-called feeling of ‘desire’.

I read a news article about the ‘Hug a Queer‘ rally organised by members of the LGBTQ community at Marine Drive in Mumbai. I read that there were incidents where the public chided the event organisers. A lot of people claim that the idea of sexuality is against our culture and our ‘shastras’ (sacred scriptures) and that it is something that needs to remained confined within the length and breadth of one’s bedroom.

Even the hugs and handshakes amongst genders are considered ‘offensive’ by many people. This entire misinterpretation of culture and tradition is responsible for our alarmingly high rate of hesitation when it comes to talking about sexual health. It is this misinterpretation of sexuality which silences and suppresses newness, knowledge and awareness.

And that’s not all, I read that an expert panel working towards adolescent education was pressurised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) to omit the words ‘sex’ and ‘sexuality’ from the final document that they had prepared.

Many people often refrain themselves from using the word ‘sex’ openly because of the fear that it might end up offending people and their beliefs. It is quiet disheartening and moreover, disappointing to see that even the use of the term ‘sex’ for the purpose of empowering people with knowledge is being labelled as something offensive and indecent.

The population of India is around 1.25 billion. It is an assumption that every second, a child is born in India, which clearly means that someone, somewhere, in a supposedly remote town of a lesser known village or town must be having sex with their partner. The problem lies in the way the concepts of sex and sexuality are being presented by the society.

Sexuality is something that is policed and relegated to the private sphere. The reason, I believe, sex and sexuality are seen in a largely negative light is because of the countless number of negative messages around the idea of sex that we encounter in our daily life. It won’t be wrong to say that the ideas surrounding sex and sexual health have been positioned negatively.

On a personal note, it won’t be wrong to say that sexual health is an integral cog in the wheel when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Talking about sex isn’t an act of indecency. It is a form of knowledge, a form of awareness which should not remain confined to the bedroom.

The need of the hour is to be a bit more open-minded when it comes to talking about sex. It’ll help people to nurture a healthy and tolerant attitude towards sex irrespective of their sexual orientation and/or beliefs.