By Ishita Jha
Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Homosexuality. One of the taboo words. A category that places all the people who sexually desire individuals of same sex at a lower position than the esteemed “straight” heterosexuals who deem themselves to be normal while they continue to categorize people in sections of “gays” and “lesbians” with a morbid expression and condescending pity.
Why? Why is homosexuality so abnormal and queer? What abomination people see in it that I could never see?
Here is why I could never see this phenomenon as something not “straight”.
All of us attribute and equate masculinity with men and femininity with females. I do not believe in this equation. Masculinity and femininity for me is a broad division of two set of ways of life, of general attributes observed in humans. It’s a broad division offering a difference between some obvious and contrasting qualities. Masculinity offers a category that defines a boundary encompassing certain, yet general qualities like strength, firmness, courage, discipline and so on whereas femininity stands for all that is sweet, caring, compassionate, nurturing, excitable and sensitive. What I believe is that all of us have both these categories present in us but one of them happens to be more salient and stronger. And generally, it so happens that boys tend to be leaning more towards the masculine side, so their occasional display of femininity has come to be treated as “queer”.
We all know the widespread theory of how opposites attract and complete each other in the inter-relation. So, what happens is that the opposite qualities of masculinity and femininity attract each other leading to the more common attraction between males and females and this attraction between masculinity and femininity is the perfect manifestation of the yin-yang symbol. Now, what’s important here is that attraction occurs between masculinity and femininity, not strictly between males and females. So when boys’ with strong feminine traits get attracted to a masculine boy, how is it abnormal? There is also the possibility of a how a feminine boy may get attracted to a masculine girl. The combinations are many but with the same basic foundation of attraction between the masculine and feminine; opposites attract. So this unnecessary categorization and the subsequent alienation between the categories appears to be abnormal now, doesn’t it?
Thus, it can be safely said that I have no views about homosexuality, because I do not care for the words “homo” or “hetero” or “metro” because all what matters is the obvious attraction between masculinity and femininity and the division of different types of bonding is simply ridiculous.
Homosexuality, not a disease.
But then, why do people do this sort of labelling? Where does this macabre distaste, for people who get attracted to individuals from their own sex, come from? Why this phenomenon of same-sex desire is considered “abnormal” which is simply another subdivision of the masculine-feminine attraction like heterosexuality?
This negative attitude towards same-sex desire is called homophobia. Again a label! When these labels just validate the whole concept of something as ridiculous as this, it’s a frustrating circumstance! But then its validation is not based on something unreal also, is it? People do treat this same-sex craving with disgust as if it were something immoral and unlawful as they brand the people with terms such as “faggots” which simply shows their stunted mentality. But why do they do so? The obvious answer is one that holds the rigid mentality of the society culpable which is incapable of accommodating something “new” (ironical, because it’s NOT new at all) because it feels threatened and insecure. But it goes deeper than that, according to the theory I proposed and formed earlier it’s obvious that according to it most people might be bisexual. So is it possible that while repressing their latent desire for same sex unconsciously, they deny and castigate such desires in an attempt to calm down their moral turbidity. That explains the nervousness with the rejection and the taunting of same-sex desires that we see through the actions of these anxious people who lash out at “homosexuality”.
I disagree with perspectives that associate being gay with being “feminine” and oh-so-girly! The whole clichéd culture which views the gays as a sensitive lot with a huge reservoir of knowledge about fashion designers not only demeans the same-sex desire phenomenon but also uses the stereotyped “female” qualities as comic fodder! When people see a guy with some typical “feminine” traits they automatically declare him gay and laugh. Not only is it making the category “male” restrictive allowing it to be only descriptive of typical “manly” qualities but laughing at the display of feminine features also mocks it as a “weakness” that men are not supposed to display otherwise it will demean their macho identity.
Homosexuality is not only the intolerance of society about this apparent “new” and abnormal same sex desire, it is also its rejection of the males who betray girl-like qualities resulting in their raillery. Both the traditionally accepted roles of males and females have become so ossified and monolithic that any slight deviation is seen as a blasphemy. But notice that deviation is the most intolerable when observed in men. It is exactly due to the reasons I explained before, the adopting of feminine traits is a sign of “weakness” in males that the patriarchal society cannot bear. It cannot bear males showing girl-like weak qualities which damages their strong macho image.
Sexuality is again a taboo word in our cultural milieu where people pretend that it does not exist. Sexuality is not a trivial thing, it is something as natural and present as gravitation and to try to put a stop on it by imposing a law is what seems unnatural. It defines a person on many levels. In the same way we fight against child marriages, infanticide, rape and slavery with the tag line of protecting human rights. Then how is one’s sexuality not one’s right? Who are we to decide for other human beings about what is natural for their sexuality? Where and who gave this right to some people to pass a law so confidently about the sexuality of people which seemingly does not obey the Indian way of living? How people don’t see the fundamental error being committed by letting the Supreme Court decide what is abnormal and what is not. We are willingly giving power to some people we have never seen to decide what is wrong and what is right. To hand over this kind of power to a bunch of individuals who supposedly know the difference between right and wrong creates a chilling picture of hegemony. This decision is not only wrong but creates a dictatorship like ambience where the citizens can do nothing to protect the simple ‘right to love’ for the minorities. What will be the next 377? If we let this decision stand then nothing can protect us from further decisions made by strangers for our “wellbeing” that is supposed to bar anything that is unnatural. If today some people agree with 377 then the next day what is the guarantee that the Supreme Court will not arbitrarily decide that what they do is not in accordance with the “Indian” culture. The blind intolerance, rigid decisions and bizarre reasons behind the decisions are something people need to ponder over if they still are against homosexuality. They should realize the grave error behind 377 even if they agree with the order, it is a must to be not blind to the intolerance of some people that decided to ban somebody’s sexuality.
“Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”
― Dorothy Parker
Ishita is a student of English Literature at Ramjas college of Delhi University. She has an inherent urge to argue and an opinion about everything and anything. She is interested in literature, politics and philosophy and would love to dedicate her whole life to academic research. Usually she can be found in a tranquil corner absorbed in her books. Not only wanting to spend her career pondering over literary theories she wishes to bring about a change in people’s mentality about various cultural and social issues that have become rigid. Very passionate about issues of gender and caste discrimination she is ruthless when encounters outlooks entrenched with ossified traditions. She has interned with Teach for India and works in Enactus Ramjas which helps her to impact lives emotionally and financially. Loves travelling, heated discussions, integrity and opinions backed by research. Can be contacted at [email protected]