Often I have expressed my anger and frustration about how media was being insensitive when dealing with topics surrounding homosexuality and how we were always misrepresented. However, over the past few months, I see that there has been a drastic change on what’s been written about us. Thanks to the High Court rule decriminalizing gay sex, it seems that the media has now got a new-found courage to not to stick to the usual perceptions and instead, they are now trying to bring out the real stories behind the rainbow. And the best part is they are doing this with no qualms which in a sense I feel as if they are shouting, screaming and discussing the topic like never before to compensate all these years of misrepresentation.
In the month of February this year, for the Sunday magazine of Hindustan Times newspaper – Brunch, the publication ran a cover story titled ‘One Man’s Story’, about the famous stand-up comedian, Vidur Kapur. The article very vividly narrated the troubled childhood and confusion Vidhur had to go through and he couldn’t find any solace from his family either. With every passing day, his self-esteemed dipped making him slip into depression which provoked him to take his life. Even though he didn’t succeed in the attempt, his sufferings didn’t end with this. Soon he had to come out to his family and instead of getting support, he was subjected to even more humiliation – the psychologist they took him to even did chromosome tests on him, to check whether he was a normal male! The doctors, his family and his friends – no one understood him and he shut himself off from the outside world. This moving account then talks about how Vidhur finally made peace with his sexuality, how he tore down all the walls he had built around him, how he found his love and in the end what led to his parents welcome their “son in law”!
To download and read the PDF of the article, click here.
The struggles that Vidhur faced, is experienced by many of us. When I was under depression because of failing to understand why I’m feeling something which was unusual, my parents were not aware. Like many of us, the path of accepting my sexuality was frustrating and tiring, to say the least. And this is why ‘coming out’ is such a big event for us, because it marks the end of a long struggle. This facet of us perhaps was never openly talked about in the mainstream media, until now. And this could be the beginning of the change in their attitudes – sensitizing and enlightening the readers through personal accounts of people like us.
When Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality in 2009, certain political and religious groups challenged the verdict and brought the matter in front of the Supreme Court. However, a touching development took place following this. 19 parents of LGBT children from across the country (along with a group of 16 academics and teachers, and a group of 14 mental health professionals) came forward and submitted their petition to counter this homophobic move. The group of parents is led by Mrs. Minna Saran, the mother of late Nishit Saran.
Nishit was an aspiring film maker and in 1999, he filmed his coming out to his mother. Mrs. Saran accepted her son for who he was. Sadly, Nishit died in a tragic road accident three years later.
In February, The Indian Express daily carried a full-fledged cover story in their Sunday supplement, Express Eye about these parents who dared to openly support their children. The article’s headline screamed, ‘My Son Is Gay, And I’m Proud Of Him’. A very moving piece, it talks about how they felt when their children came out to them and what they thought of the hogwash propagated by their (our) opposition.
You can read the online version of the Express Eye article by clicking here and to watch Nishit's moving documentary of his coming out, "Summer In My Veins", click here to reach the post where I had shared the video long ago.
Last Sunday, NDTV aired the show 'We The People' devoted to the parents’ petition. This is another bold move to bring out the issue to the forefront which showed the parents and the children sharing their experiences and thoughts. During the program it was highlighted how it was clearly breaking the long associated stereotype of gay males being effeminate. It also focused on another important aspect of how the schools should sensitize the issue of sexuality and the care and approach a counselor should take on while counseling a child who seeks help regarding his or her sexuality.
Click on the play button below to watch the episode. If you're reading this post from an email you will have to access the site to view the video.
While the whole effort deserves a standing ovation, I just have one chafe - I feel highly disturbed when someone considers homosexuality as a ‘choice.’ Is heterosexuality a choice? For most of us this was never a choice, but a realization. I feel, equating it with choice is actually insulting our journey of acceptance of who we are.
Now I have to strongly emphasize and appreciate the efforts of a newspaper for having balls to come up with their initiative. These guys have actually gone ahead one step further than the rest and are truly mainstreaming homosexuality.
Check out the snapshot of clippings below.
For the past two months, DNA newspaper (that’s acronym for Daily News Analysis and not the Australian gay lifestyle magazine) has been dedicating an entire page in their Sunday edition for LGBT issues. This section called 'Out Of The Closet', features diverse stories and realities of what it feels to be part of a minority that is ridiculed and shunned. DNA journalists are talking to various people in the community and bringing out their voice to the much larger audience. This specific page also features guest articles from the well known LGBT personalities in India and provides an update on LGBT news from around the world! Seriously, what more can we ask for! When we were growing up, we had no source of information to reach out to. Hell! We didn’t even know there was a category of population termed homosexuals! (and bisexuals and transsexuals – to be politically correct). And now that this topic is been discussed and debated openly, the path of acceptance of one’s sexuality would hopefully be a much shorter walk for the new generation.
For the sake of convenience for CSB readers, I have collated the 'Out Of The Closet' pages appeared till now and combined them into a PDF. To download and read, click here.
India is also witnessing a trend where entrepreneurs are identifying and realizing the potential of a section of the market which had remained untapped. Now a string of services have sprung up to address the growing demand from the LGBT community. We now have a travel boutique that specifically caters to gays - Indjapink, an exclusive gay event management firm - Salvation Star, a fashion store for gay men - D’Kloset, a retail store that sells practically everything LGBT related from t-shirts and accessories to mugs - Azaad Bazaar, a dedicated web portal to shop for queer books, DVDs and CDs - Queer Ink, an annual International LGBT Film Festival - Kashish, a gay lifestyle magazine - Fun and the latest, a discount card specifically for the LGBT crowd (claiming to be Asia's first) that is going to be launched on April 27. The tabloid Sunday Mid Day carried an article, 'It's A Pink Deal' (again a cover story) in January on the boom of Pink commerce in India (especially in Mumbai), which was written as a precursor for the Mumbai Pride Week.
To download the PDF of this article, click here.
The Supreme Court of India is expected to deliver the final judgment on legalization and decriminalization of gay sex sometime after July. There are many who have been fighting tirelessly to bring about the changes that we are witnessing now. Hope we will be able to sustain this momentum and good sense prevails for the world's largest democracy to succeed in ushering equality to its citizens. We have a long way to go in bringing anti-discrimination laws at public and work places, legalizing gay marriages and in laying down inheritance laws and adoption rights. But nevertheless, this is a good start!
The very first picture used for this article is a still from Onir's latest feature film, 'I Am' slated to release on coming Friday. 'I Am' is a fusion of four stories, in which one deals with sexual discrimination and how police uses Article 377 to harass and blackmail gay men. You can view the theatrical trailer of 'I Am' by clicking here.
Check out these related posts too!
Indians Being Homophobic And More
'Yuva' Dares To Break Open The Closet
The New Face Of Indian Homophobia
An Equal Love