Dear conservative adults,
I understand that some of you probably are confused, scared, and scandalised about the recent development in law. Social norms in our society have dictated your upbringing, and as a person of a certain age and calibre, it feels like you’re losing control, as your morals and belief system are being challenged. But weren’t we always also told something along the lines of, “We learn something new everyday” or “Learning is a life long process”?
Some of the most common things that I have heard from you are given below. I will attempt to convey my ideas, research and core beliefs underneath.
This doesn’t play out anymore. You’re not too old-fashioned to use Skype to talk to your kids, have the latest technology of everything, and embrace various machinery that helps you get things done faster. You live in a concrete house. You take medicines, go through medical procedures that keep you healthy and alive. All of that is ‘unnatural’. If you have a problem with unnatural things, then I suggest you go live in the woods, in a hunter-gatherer way of living, and stop reaping the benefits of the scientific progress that we have made so far.
Hold on. Most people become more religious as they age, learning about spirituality, and God, and all the works. You definitely weren’t religious when you were younger, but you are now. You changed. You challenged years of your own belief. Yes. You did. Again, a shoddy excuse.
The word “religion” comes from Latin and while there are a few different translations, the most prevalent roots take you back to the Latin word “Re-Ligare”. “Ligare” means “to bind” or to “connect”. Adding the “re” before “ligare” causes the word to mean “Re-Bind” or “Re-Connect. The point of all religion is to unify people together, to bring peace and harmony, for people to accept themselves and others, and to find purpose. How does hating on queer people unify you, or bring peace or harmony, or bring you to accept yourself or others, or give you a purpose? If anything, it causes segregation. Think about it.
I want you to remember that religious texts have many translations and interpretations. It is common that one person’s version of, say, Hinduism, is different from another’s view on the very same religion. It is upto you to choose what you believe. It is possible for you to be religious and support queer people. There are many people who that actively in Hinduism, Christianity, and other faiths also have good support systems available, if you make an effort to do look them up!
If you still want to take the side of homophobic people, remember this—religion is a very personal thing to you. You have learnt to live in a diverse society, where you have accepted that other people have different faiths. If you do not want to engage in a certain activity because you believe your religion is against it, that’s fine. Don’t do it. But you cannot let your belief dictate the lives of others. Just as a Muslim friend would not tell you not to eat pork and worship Allah, a Hindu friend would not tell you to become vegetarian and worship the thousands of Gods that they have, and an atheist friend wouldn’t tell you to give up your faith entirely or that you are stupid for believing in something or someone, you too will not shove your religion down other people’s throats.
You live in a society where everyone is dependent on each other. You count on people to do their bit, and you have people counting on you to do yours. They could be your children, other family members, friends, distant relatives, co-workers, employers, employees. Are you really going to let those people down because you refuse to get with the times? If you help people in their time of need, and are there when they need you, they will do the same for you.
Well, that’s where you are wrong. It is estimated that 20% of the population is attracted to their own gender. It is hig
hly unlikely that you managed to interact with only those who are straight.
No one told you they’re gay. Because, perhaps, they were unsure if you are an ally; if you would be able to take it well; if you would out them to other people or not.
Some people are open about their sexuality, and others are not. That is their choice to disclose it to you or not. But do not blame them if they haven’t confided in you. Make yourself an approachable ally, and see how many people will come and talk to you about this.
Hello? Has your mother not taught you to mind your own business? You can never tell if someone is gay or not just by the way they look, dress, or behave. Everyone is their own individual, with different hobbies, and interests. Believe someone when they say they are gay. Believe someone when they say they are straight.
You know a person can be into your gender, but not be personally attracted to you, right? And uncle ji, how many times have you hit on women and made them uncomfortable? I’m pretty sure they either laughed it off, or told you to stop. In the unlikely event that a gay man was to approach you, you could also laugh it off, or tell them you aren’t interested. Any decent person will respect that.
Okay, so you’re saying that 99% of our movies, music, and WhatsApp forwards that cater to the heteronormativity are now being suppressed by the 1% representation queer people are getting, and that too very recently? Straight people, who have so far had the privilege of representing queer people, have done a very bad job by perpetuating stereotypes. Obviously, because they do not have the lived experience, they cannot represent queer people authentically. It is therefore left to the LGBTQ folks to talk about their experience. And since they are a minority, they have to work harder to make their voices heard.
Educate yourself first. Talk to experts, or queer people who are willing to share their personal experience, and try to understand things for yourself. Then, make sure a child knows you are approachable , and that if they have any questions, about anything, they can come to you.
As they hit puberty, or even earlier, address the topic very directly, and with no shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Tell them that you love them and will accept them, regardless of who they choose to date, and love. Remember, a child’s happiness and comfort should be your top priority. You don’t want a child who will grow up to resent you for your inability to accept them, or for you to resent them for something they cannot control.
First, thank them for trusting you. They took a leap of faith, and put themselves in a vulnerable position. Remember, even though homosexuality has been decriminalised here, there are still taboos and stigma around it.
Give them relationship advice, like you would, with a straight child. You know, anything ranging from, “Make sure you are comfortable, and not pressured into anything,” to “Love is tough, but so worth it.”
DO NOT SAY THAT IT IS A PHASE. If it is, then that’s alright, they have the right to change their mind. If it is not, then saying that it’s a phase will just leave them feeling invalidated. Once again, a child’s wellbeing is most important.
Teach them about safe sex. Yes, even if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual, they need to use condoms, or dental dams to prevent STDs and STIs. I know it is hard as a parent to talk to your child about these things, but it is essential for their safety and to prevent them from harm.
Here’s the thing, children will explore themselves regardless of what you want or think. You can either be supportive about it, and be an active participant in their life, or be un-supportive, and never hear from them about anything. It’s essential, of course, to explain to them that there is an age of consent, and that they would be risking trauma (to themselves), and jail-time for their partner (if the partner is above the age of consent). Also make sure they understand that having a large age gap while dating (especially when younger) causes a power dynamic which may lead to them being taken advantage of, and is often predatory. This can happen regardless of which gender they are dating. So straight people, you take notes too.
So, Google whatever you can, ask other people questions (as long as they are not invasive) and read up.