This post is coming after a long time and I am not saying it out of guilt. I had wilfully abandoned this blog because it wasn’t necessary to my existence and I had more enjoyable things to do in my life separate and independent of WordPress.com. Yet I am back because I had an urge to empty the emotional pitcher inside me as one is wont to do from time to time. (Other ways include watching a tear-jerker like Pixar’s Brave.)
I feel compelled to point out that I am an Indian before I go further. The fact amazes me myself given the fact that surfing the news sites and blogs of American descent, I am more attuned to its intricacies then what goes on back home. I am just what internet made me. As readers should know, there were major wins in US Supreme Court which repealed its DOMA Act that banned same-sex marriage and rolled back Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage after it had been sanctioned by its Court.
Being a fan of the advice column Dear Prudence in Slate (you rock Prudie!), I have since grown to appreciate Slate’s content output even if I might disagree with it at times or even roll my eyes at it. It is overflowing right now – as any self-respecting magazine should – with articles dissecting the aforementioned rulings and its effect on American Life and Psyche. They posted a collection of long articles regarding the same and the articles range cover a vast range of topics bound by a central theme of homosexuality as well as a keen quality and clear exposition.
One article moved me more than the others though: it details how Harvard had once expelled gay students from its campus back in 1920s. What surprised me more, as the article notes towards the end, is that there was a culture of homosexual people at all at that time. Although I knew it already, I wouldn’t have imagined how it took place actually. I imagined a lonely man wondering whether he was alone in his urgings for the same sex and would simply see men throwing discrete glances at each other but doing nothing for fear of persecution. Yes, movies play a role in my imagination.
But the fact that there was already a gay culture surprises me to no extent. It describes a dormitory where men having sex with men was nothing new and it was part of its culture. Its dirty secret or its liberating environment… how you brand it is just a function of how you imagine it to be. But the fact remained that sex between men existed in that place with an expectation to play cool about it. Already there were gay nightclubs and bars in New York. The quality of videos made at that time were already of an excellent quality. We underestimate the past with too much dismissiveness.
And yet what moved me was the fact that I saw uncanny parallels with my position today in India. I am not involved with a gay culture here but I am accepted wherever I go. They are people who have already been Americanized and thus feel an invisible pressure to be liberal in order to be perceived as cool. If I remain in this bubble I can conclude that being gay wouldn’t actually be so bad now, would it? But then I realize it is because people don’t talk about it out of their discomfort to talk about it at all. They are silent because they haven’t known a concept called homosexuality at all. They haven’t accepted me but rather grown to tolerate me.
But what would happen if they stop ignoring me? What would happen if I come out as gay in front of people. Then I would be real and those people wouldn’t be college peers but my parents, my neighbours, my co-workers. Maybe they allow me to be out of shock but a day would come when exposure to gay people would force most of them to make up a mind about it. I would grow old to live in my own house and who – like the man in the videos of the Harvard “trial” above – would call me “deranged” and “lucy”. They would warn their kids to stay away from me and then against all my hopes, most of the children would grow up to be homophobic because that is what they would see at their homes.
Indians are already very good at absorbing everything that is bad about India so one more thing wouldn’t be that difficult for them. Ironically, as I have already started hearing about it, homophobes call homosexuality a Western concept when all they have learnt from the West is homophobia itself. But I digress. Crux of the matter is that I have to be optimistic but with restraint. I can’t draw more parallels with a world 100 years before today and on the other part of the world because in today’s globalised world, America’s pro-gay policies would ripple across other countries. But the fact that I wouldn’t be attempted to be silenced later in life seems a little ludicrous just like the unlucky gay bars in New York were closed down later. I would only need to go on with a faith that things do get better.