Homophobia – the grey shades
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
[I had a blog Aagan Says previously. But in a moment of emotional foolery i deleted the blog without taking backup, and posts between May-August were lost. I am going to REPOST those again. Today i post an article i had originally written for Gaylaxy magazine and later posted on my Blog in July].
When you walk down a street full of people, stare at them. Do this as an exercise. Try to deduce the ethnicity, religious identity or sexuality of a person just from the look of him/her. I am sure in most of the cases it will turn out to be rather an excruciating task. Unless of course people wore their identities on their sleeves.
A big struggle homosexuals have to encounter once they are out, is that they have to tide over the constant jeering and assessment of the society. Abuses are hurled, friends are abandoned, barbs are handed out in guise and sometimes physical harm rains on people with “alternate” sexuality.
There is a class which says lack of education makes one homophobic and the “educated” citizens of urban India hardly care who is sleeping around with whom, let alone whether with the same sex or not. The vice of hatred for homosexuals emanated from small towns and villages according to many people I spoke to over the years.
This basic notion is not just flawed but fallout of inherent homophobia. The sheer indifference smells of repulsion for gays and attributing homophobia to only rural folk also signifies a shade of arrogance. The fallacy of their claim can easily be nailed by their own reactions to gays, despite “education”. Major acts of hate campaign against gays happen in educational institutions. Peers making fun, silent sufferings, biased teachers, even ostracization – homosexuals have to bear it all in institutes. Rumours of sexual life, “abnormal fetishes”, and “camaraderie” float in the air and become the most discussed gossip in no time.
In hindsight when I look back at my own life, I feel blessed I never went through any phases of homophobia against me. My friends were all the best of buddies and my sexual preferences never made any difference to them. But yes, initial days were a bit tough since some of them behaved like doubting dimwits but eventually fell in line. Post graduation was tougher, because of the huge strength of the class with students of various backgrounds, with different prejudices. While some of them reinforced the idea of homophobic society in me, some were overtly cooperative. Largely, after I came out to them, it was just a matter of fact and did not need any corroboration. But a silent rebellion was brewing inside me; a revolution to quash the unspoken (and to certain extent unintentional) homophobia inside everyone (including me).
But life is made of black and white. Largely painting people homophiles and homophobes would be a silly mistake. People need to know the person inside you to appreciate your identity apart from your sexuality. On the other hand, a cup filled to the brim spills over when loaded with more fuel. So they must also leave their inherent biases away. And charity begins at home. Liberalisation of mind can only be a reality if our upbringing reflects the same. Education and not degrees can only do that.
To quote the bard,
“Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”