If over half the pages and people you follow on social media identify as ‘Liberal,’ chances are that your newsfeed right now is clogged with #LoveIsLove and the likes of it. Of all the memes I’ve run into on the subject, the one meme that has managed to stay with me is one in which there are two speaking voices-one of a narrator (who reads like a parent) and one of a child.
The narrator states that the child once asked them who the man their uncle always hung out with was, to which they respond by explaining that the man, like the child’s parent of the opposite gender, was their uncle’s partner. The child then goes on to shrug it off with a flippant ‘cool’ as a gesture of it being insignificant enough to not have drastically impacted their worldview. This shrugging off allows the meme to take the position that homosexuality as a concept is not difficult or challenging for a child to understand, and shouldn’t be something that we speak about in hushed tones to lend it an aura of shame, thereby creating the association of shame.
I was an oblivious 12-year-old the first time I heard the word ‘Lesbian,’ and did not know that it was something to be ashamed of. I was attracted to a girl in my class, and daft enough to not let the observation of mass heterosexuality around me lead me to believe that what I had felt at the point was unnatural.
That was until I was met with the taunting and jeering of other 12-year-olds of course, because as it turned out, I was the lesbian they were talking about, and with their snide remarks were forcing me to occupy a position in which I felt shame. A week into this routine and they had succeeded – I was ashamed.
Did that stop me from feeling ‘gay feelings’? No.
But would it stop me from talking about it for over 10 years? Yes.
Shame, then, as you can now tell, is not internal. It comes from the knowledge that somebody who disapproves is watching, and when you’re a minority with not enough people to relate to, this somebody has power over you even if they aren’t someone you’ve lent any to.
Shame is conditioned and drilled into your head because of the clear separation between what is socially acceptable and what is deviant – the latter of which is always shameful because it prevents an individual from conforming. But it’s not always understood like this.
Many people still believe that shame stems from within an individual, including the ‘ashamed people’, leading to self-censorship and displacement to the extent that some people I know are yet uncertain of whether they brainwashed themselves into identifying as heterosexual.
When you’ve been ashamed for so long, ‘Pride’ is sometimes just another word with very little meaning beyond marches.
Even if it is a reclamation of space, we still do it fully conscious of the obligation to feel shame that’s being inflicted upon us, and hence the vibrant colours and makeup to make a statement.
Because on some level we’re not really proud.
Just fighting really hard to fake it until we make it. Or at least I am.
If you’re interested, I’m bisexual and polyamorous and my orientation is yet to be accommodated for in popular conception, let alone the law.
I was uncertain of how I felt when I heard about the Supreme Court judgment. Part of me was glad that a large chunk of my friend circle could now be who they wanted to be, but part of me was not as jubilant as would be considered ‘ideal’ because of how empty this ideal is, and how behind closed doors, they had the resources to be who they wanted to be anyway.
For starters, it is not so easy to celebrate a decision like this in a country like India because of how taboo discussions surrounding sex are. If you can’t talk about sex, you can most certainly not talk about homosexuality since even if you call it love, at its core, it is about sexual preferences. We are not a society that largely accepts individual choices of heterosexual partners or the concept of a person as being strictly ‘individual’ like in the United States of America, so the risk carried in accidentally outing yourself to a family member while celebrating could range from intense prolonged emotional abuse to actually being kicked out of the house, often with very little visible community to turn to for support.
How does this judgment do anything for an individual like this? Morality, convention, and the shame they carry around in a sprinkler don’t come with a button that switches off just because the Supreme Court said so. It might be illegal in public to shame a person for their sexuality, but who can protect someone from the intimidation that happens behind closed doors and all the innuendos that are meant to offend, but claim benign things on the surface?
Alternately, what of the Trans individual who is forced to beg at the M.G Road signal? Will their lack of a bedroom now motivate homophobic authorities to book them under public indecency? The celebration surrounding the reading down of section 377 is only a celebration of bourgeoisie vanity that wants their hand holding and parading to be as flamboyant and legally protected as those in the West. It is not a triumph for all of the queer community, even though I don’t intend to trivialize individual struggles with whataboutery. Every queer person deserves space, freedom and security, but to believe they have received all of that with the passing of this judgment is myopic.
However, even the middle-class individuals celebrating this will be in for a rude shock if they came out and truly believed that it would have no consequences. Regardless of whether a company adopts an official stance of being ‘tolerant’ of an open-minded towards people of varying races, genders and sexual orientations, it would always do well to remember that companies are only real entities on paper and the actual relationship they have with their workplace is determined by the people they work with.
That being said, I spent a whole hour weeping over the sudden lifting of a burden I’d unconsciously held onto for 11 years, 6 hours after the judgment was declared.
Story By – Anonymous
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