Right from childhood, children are exposed to rigorous stereotyping. A guy loves blue, a girl falls for pink. A man is masculine: dominant, aggressive, muscular and tough. A woman is considered feminine: fragile, meek and submissive. A female loves makeup while a man chooses sports. A man falls for women and a woman falls for men. A feminine man or a masculine woman are both considered ‘abnormal’.
The superheroes who refuse to fit into this gender binary, the fighters who believe that gender is a spectrum, the people who dare to go beyond the accepted norms of sexuality are the people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They are the Lesbians, the gays, the bisexuals, the transgenders, the gender-queers and all others who do not conform to the normally accepted gender-notions.
The life story of many people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community is one of struggle and survival. The fact that the country where the Kamasutra was written, the country which is home to the sculptures of Khajuraho, the country that has had a history of eunuchs who influenced the administration, decriminalised same-sex relationships only last year, shows the taboo around the LGBTQ+.
Yes, taking down of parts of Section 377 of the IPC that criminalised homosexuality was a welcome step but we need more than that. A law can grant recognition but dignity comes from social acceptability.
A change in mindset is possible only once people start accepting that there is and can be a gender identity other than that of a man and a woman. People irrespective of their age and gender need to discuss the gender-dynamic openly so that taboos and confusions or myths about the LGBTQ+ community can be shed.
There is a need to impart proper sex-education to children that makes them conscious about their sexual preferences, sensitises them towards the question of gender identity and also curtails their homophobia. More and more people from the community need to be given representation in the public sphere so that members are not looked at with judgement and false assumptions. Adoption by same-sex couples should be made legal and laws relating to their marriage should be updated.
There is an urgent need to address the issue of jobs when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. The community needs to be empowered economically and admitted into the mainstream. There is also a need to work towards making the routine-life of members of the LGBTQ+ community more comfortable. The depiction on TV shows and in movies needs to undergo change.
Lastly, it’s important that we remember, members of the LGBTQ+ community are defined by much more than their sexual preferences. Who somebody chooses to sleep with should not matter to anybody. Love is subjective. The choice of having a male, female or non-binary partner or even not having one is totally subjective. The likes of Dutee Chand and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi should be encouraged, promoted and publicised. Members of the community should be encouraged to come out.
The authority of those in power thrives on the weakness of the meek. Eras change, the once-oppressed become the oppressors, the inferiors replace their superiors and the equation between different classes of people changes. But the power struggle continues. This power struggle was born out of the binary of the ancient master and slave, medieval lord and serf and the modern capitalist and worker relationships. It has reshaped itself to accommodate to the changing times.
We now have multiple bullies and a multitude of the bullied. The LGBTQ+ community is one such category that has been subjected to constant seclusion, torture, harassment, exploitation and has been denied the right to equality in society.
Let us strive to become a society that encourages equality. As the LGBTQ+ community take strides to be a part of the mainstream, let us make sure that we stand by them in their quest for equal rights.