Last year in September, two women in Mumbai, who were said to be in a relationship and attempted suicide after they were spotted on Marine Drive by the girl’s father and were forbidden from seeing each other. While one of them died, the other survived after she was rushed to the hospital.
People ask questions like, “Are there any lesbians in India?” This sounds similar to, “Do we still have chicken pox in India?”
India is a land where women’s bodies, sexuality and life choices are tightly reined in by familial and social pressures. If you’re a lesbian, it is a double trouble: You are a woman and you are homosexual. Section 377 of IPC criminalises homosexuality and hence cases of extortion, physical abuse by the police, discrimination in schools, hospitals, mistreatment by goons in public, in general, are not uncommon. Indian parents see it as a question on their sanskar. And then comes fear: What will the society think? They take them to psychiatrists who would prescribe electric shock treatments and drugs to cure them.
When we reject homosexuality, we forget the angle of consent. How can we question biological desires of two consenting adults? Our mythology and heritage sites depict evident homosexuality and gender fluidity. In the 1930s, Jhaverchand Meghani had written ‘Niranjan’ a full-fledged novel on the subject. Bollywood actors have sportingly played homosexual roles. Political parties and religious extremist groups rejoice while calling it simply a ‘western’ influence that needs to be abolished.
But parents and family? It is rather understandable that Indian Parents find it awkward to talk about this or accept it, especially with the lack of awareness and the over bearing influence of the society. It is okay to not be able to imagine or understand something. It is a different thing to stand against what you don’t understand.
“Another Thing I’m Sick of Hearing:
If I started that gay rights group,
I must be gay.
So if i start an animal rights group,
what does that make me?
― James Howe,