Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Each one, teach one.

Come November, the Pride March in New Delhi will cause a flutter of the different colours of the rainbow, causing TV Channels and other media, hungry to fill up pages and news slots to run helter-skelter picking up news and views and flashing them across national and international channels. Major discussions will take place on Television and brick and bat will meet and strike in air and newspapers. Then, as suddenly and passionately as it came, it will die out leaving late comers to catch up on social media. Shortly following this Mumbai will catch the fire and will themselves walk the streets with Pride. In both cases, the state will take care to ensure that while trying to put up a face of acceptance and support of the movement, it will ensure that the Pride March does not pass through highly populated sections of the city or close to places where the government sits and allow the Pride walkers to March in what one may call, less than truly visible locations so that the rest of the population are not inconvenienced by the Pride March. 

We are a hypocritical society, down to the chaddi/underwear. What we appear outside is not what we practice inside. Showing the world that there is place for Pride in our society, we hide deep seated paranoia on the other.  

After living for over fifteen years with her partner in a live-in relationship, Susan, an anthropologist by profession, was literally asked to leave her life with her partner, because, her partner’s mother came to live with her. Even though, earlier, she had no qualms about her daughter’s live-in ‘friendship’, and often, in more than words, she confessed that she was quite satisfied that her daughter had a ‘friend’ to live with, now, that she actually confronted the relationship on a daily basis, she found it impossible to live with the reality. She began to talk in a language that was more often the language of action, than of words, in silent speech, pregnant and bursting in the seam with the evil power to cast out Susan’s presence and throw her to the swine. Mind you, deep seated venom and vengeance of patriarchy against any ‘unestablished’, unaccepted norm is stronger than the whole Indian army in action at the borders of the country. 

If Susan put her books in one place, she would find that the place was soon occupied by her partner’s mother’s library. If Susan hung her clothes in the cupboard she used, she found she was asked to vacate it for her partner’s mother. If Susan was in conversation with her partner, she found, that they were soon joined by her partner’s mother without an invitation to do so. If Susan was sitting with the family, the language of conversation, soon turned to one Susan could not understand. In a nutshell, the very presence of Susan had begun to cause an allergy to the mother. What was more; her partner would not voice her objection to her mother’s odd behavior causing Susan to believe that by maintaining a silence over the abuse of space, her partner had indeed become accomplice to the abuse dealt out towards Susan. This was unacceptable to Susan who decided then to tear away from this mess till her partner came to some understanding of what to put where and how to compartmentalize her relation with her mother as different from her relationship with Susan. After fifteen long years, their relationship went into hibernation.
This is not an extraordinary situation in our society. Decriminalization of homosexuality, accepting gay marriages, and maybe in time, even accepting gay quota in the parliament will not take a basic problem out from our society and that is, we are a nation of hypocrites and what we mouth, may not be what we believe in our hearts. And this is problematic!

Together with advocacy for gay rights, it is highly important that we talk about acceptance, within our families.  We can’t allow the Susan kind of episode to carry on, as if there is nothing to do, but accept the situation.  There is an urgent need to create space for many issues around gay rights. 

And really it should begin at home, with the family, first.  


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