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The Rainbow Flag - the Lgbtq in India

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The Rainbow Flag  

                      The LGBTQ in India. What they face and what we do about it.

I remember when I was in the 5th grade and my parents took me along in a train journey to Chennai. I remember the journey was so much fun, with the chai-walas and the biryani-walas and the cute older dude (much older dude, probably in his twenties, but hey, which little girl doesn’t like older dudes!)  in the same car as ours. Perhaps, what ruined for me the fun of it all, was what happened in the later part of the journey. I remember the hijras, there were at least 7 of them, moving from car to car, unabashedly, absolutely owning their flare. Some passengers handed them 10-20rs bills and shooed them off, others too scared to interact with them gave them the money they asked for, whilst the less forgiving ones threatened the hijras that they would throw them off the train if they came any closer, some even taking out their less than frightening pocketknives to scare them off. The hijras promptly collected the little money that they could gather and left, still unabashed and absolutely owning the flare they came with.

I couldn’t fathom what the big deal was all about. They didn’t seem to hurt anyone, so why? What was the fuss all about? Remember, these are the same hijras that people deliberately, of their own accord, invite to their houses to bless their sons and daughters when they are born. To me, they were just women with beards. This incident, I consider to be my my first contact with the queer community. And this, is also the most common illustration of homophobia in India.

Its not only the hijras and the trans-people that face discrimination in their own country, it is also the meager minority of lesbian, gay, bisexual communities that face blatant bias.

Funnily, I studied in an all-girls convent school and let me tell you, there were all sorts of weird shit going on in there. Girls would jump into conclusions about other girls’ sexuality, calling them lesbians, girls with short haircuts sparking the fireworks of other girls’ hearts and ovaries, rumors spreading about stolen kisses in bathrooms and promises of eloping. About 0.2% was actually true. I also remember the rival all-boys school in our city was facing the same state of affairs. Rumors of infiltration of gay boys in their academy reached all the way to our school, and another all-girls school (another rival school, surprise, surprise!) in the same city had even more scandalous love stories with a pinch of infidelity. In the midst of the chaos of it all, perhaps the ones with actual different sexualities struggled to find expression.

On a serious note, we find appalling instances of homophobia every day. Even in adulthood, some struggle to find their way out of their closet. Rumors still destroy LGBT lives. How many times has it happened  in a conversation that the name of a gay person has come up and the most common reply to that is an ignorant person replying, “Hijra hai kya?” or spitting slurs like “homo” or “faggot”.

The orthodox society still has trouble accepting what they can’t understand. With homophobic bullying and violence happening every day throughout the country, the Section 377 of the Indian Penal code, came as a blow to the balls of the LGBTQ community and has only encouraged the orthodox mindset of the people condemning such sexual orientation.

Incidents of people like Vyshnav, who did not fit into the conventional paradigm, faced bullying from an age as early as 12 and was slapped on several occasions by stark-mad imbeciles simply because they thought his mannerisms were “gay”.

One of my friends named Abhishek, too was an object of ridicule throughout school and college because of his effeminate mannerisms.

We all know of situations of families killing their children in the name of honour. I refuse to understand what kind of “honour” they trying to achieve by killing off their own offspring, the result of their own sexual orientation. Some are even coaxed or forced into marriage, which inevitably doesn’t work out in the long term. And more and more cases of people engaging in open marriage to please the conformist society and to explore and find real love and pleasure are taking place.

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