“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”
On June 28th, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village in New York City. This bar welcomed gay people and transgenders unlike the other bars in the city where stepping in would receive judgemental looks and frowns. The raid sparked a riot among the people as police mishandled the employees and used violence to control the crowd, leading to six days of protest and clashes with the law enforcement outside the bar, as well as in the neighbouring streets. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. And this is how the month of June was commissioned to be called as Pride Month.
While the law may be stuck in the 19th century, many Indian’s aren’t. The past few years have seen massive support and initiatives for the LGBTQ+ groups. This year’s Pride Month saw multiple pride parades, queer film festivals and an outpour of love towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Yet isn’t it saddening that there still exists a marginalized group of people who are shunned by society for expressing their uncommon sexuality? Isn’t it frustrating that this same society also believes there’s a need for a man in every relationship? The sexual revolution began in the 1960s, but the most recent discovery of ‘the third gender’ in modern society was dated back to the 1860s. Isn’t a century of ignorance suggestive enough of how unbearably naïve the most dominant race on this planet is?
We have poor hearing when it comes to the voices of the unknown. Yes, unknown; that’s what people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community are to most people. After all, history has denied their existence ever since the beginning of time; Gautama Buddha had never questioned his sexuality, Duryodhana and Karna were not a gay couple, the Quran did not advocate anything other than heterosexuality, Jesus wasn’t a transgender, and most importantly, God created Adam and Eve. Man and Woman.
The generations before us have never questioned change, and have thus created a singular idea; that only man and woman are absolute, and seeking only each other should be their primal pursuit.
However, times are changing. LGBTQ+ issues are being discussed, the community is voicing out their opinion, people are finally listening. In India, although still considered a taboo by the majority of the populace, acceptance has become a norm in various regions.
And our very own student town is a good example. Manipal is included among the few metropolitan cities in India that have provided an open forum for the expression of LGBTQ+ issues. Pride marches and group discussions about sexuality have distinguished Manipal as a student town known for its support for the LGBTQ+ cause. Yet, as long as male students are ridiculed by some for wearing pink, the word ‘gay’ is used as an insult, and transgender people are still shunned by social groups, discrimination on grounds of gender and sexuality is a prevailing entity.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal code makes sex with the persons of the same gender punishable by law, and violation of this law leads to being punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. A country that flaunts it’s ‘democracy’ and has promised her people ‘acche din’ is failing to take care of the most marginalized sections of the society. People being beaten up, mocked and slandered only because they are adults who are embracing themselves and their sexuality. Imagine being treated like a criminal only because of who you chose to love or what you chose to be.
With comments like “Homos are genetically handicapped. You need to go to a hospital. Being gay is a mental disorder” by Subramaniam Swamy( Member of the Bharatiya Janata Party) being made and Baba Ramdev claiming to ‘cure’ homosexuality by his brand of yoga, members of the community have been suppressed and agitated. Because of such ‘role models’ speaking for our country, we are unable to appreciate their voices which are worth hearing, and their stories worth sharing.
It’s high time for our people to realize the need to celebrate the existence of the pride of lions and lionesses and everyone in between for roaring in protest of their love and suffering. This pride should be celebrated every passing moment, and the most during Pride Month.
-Written by Sanjay Kumar and Janice Coutinho
-Photography by Nishtha Sharma
-Featured image by Jyotinder Singh