Out of dark alleys not yet into hearts

Renu Sud Sinha

THE celebrations have waned, the news about it has already moved to inside pages. Not to say it didn’t have its 50 cm in sun (some newspapers devoted even two pages to it); TV channels must have devoted over 15 hours and not just the proverbial 15 minutes. After all, it is not every day that the highest court of the land upholds constitutional morality over societal morality and repeals a 158-year-old archaic and diabolic law.

But as the euphoria fades, reality knocks again — in our homes, our offices, our public spaces and even in the virtual world. Nothing but the law has changed. Societal morality, with its deeply-entrenched tentacles, is not going anywhere in a hurry.

The LGBTQ community may not be criminal in the eyes of law anymore but the scorn in the eyes of society is still strong. It is visible in the memes going around; in WhatsApp forwards, though ostensibly in the garb of jokes, and in many such posts on other social media with smileys or winking emoticons thrown in abundance, as if these will take the sting out of it.

Mind you, many of these have been shared by members of the so-called intelligentsia, the vanguard of liberalism, whose surface, it seems, is not meant to be scratched. When one politely points out the insensitivity behind the so-called humour, in a group of more than 40 people, which has journalists, writers, professors, schoolteachers, bureaucrats, Army officers, businessmen, homemakers — in short a microcosm of society — there is not a single word of support for my gentle protest against the forwards.

It is visible in family gatherings where gossiping tongues smirk about the womanly characteristics of a relative’s young son who has settled abroad. ‘Must have done so because he is…’ the crier gestures with a limp hand.

And strangely enough, the unease is visible even where it is least expected — in the precincts of a newspaper, where the issue is being discussed for special stories. Someone remarks honestly, ‘Oh! I am quite liberal but am not sure what my reaction will be if I come across such a person.’

Another colleague recounts a somewhat similar incident from among the fraternity. Many people avoided shaking hands with a fellow journalist, whose orientation was suspect, of all the things, because of his appearance.

As I read accounts of young hopefuls from the LGBTQ community, many of whom have come out, what they believe is sunshine, now that they can no longer be prosecuted, I feel hopeless at their naiveté. What about social persecution?

If these are the reactions of ‘Liberal India’, I shudder at the homophobia this love-all community must be facing in small towns and villages where the real India lives and where people love to hate members of this community. We can’t even accept their acceptance into the law; the question of their unquestioned acceptance… well, that road is not even paved with any intentions — good or bad.

Source Link: https://www.tribuneindia.com

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