India & Alternative Sexuality – An Insider’s Perspective
Few days back I was invited to address a group of future leaders, teachers – Teach for India current cohort fellows from Delhi and talk to them about ‘Identifying Learning Disabilities in Kids.’ After my talk was over, a handsome young man shared his views with the group about Alternative Sexuality, which instantly reminded me about an article I had written a few months back about Alternative Sexuality from a Parent’s perspective.
I connected with him later & we discussed the topic at length, which I wanted all of you – my readers too to read. I a lot of times imagine scenario where my daughter comes up to me and reveals that she has an alternative sexual preference. What will be my reaction & support level in that case? It was great to hear the views & experience from someone who has been at one end of this conversation. So here are views of Mrinal in his own words.
“But you don’t even look like them?” That was the first question my mother asked when I came out to her. A fear and a sense of loss hovered over the entire day, the imminent feeling of loss of a family or a loss of identity was the Sophie’s Choice for the day. As I measured different possible outcomes of the situation, the worse has already gotten hold over my better judgement.
Today, when I think about it and introspect, the day went absolutely fine. As Newton’s first law stands, “An object in the state of rest will continue in the state of rest or an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” the reaction of my parents (read resistance) seems justified in the eyes of Mr. Newton. The modern Indian society has not moved on from its medieval patriarchal structure and the defined gender norms. We coming in terms with the idea of different sexualities that exist within our society, provides a ray of hope.
Historically, India has been a tolerant country. We are a country where we worship (respect) an intersex God (Ardhanārīśvara) and celebrate the beauty of a transsexual Goddess Mohinī. Our historical texts are filled with examples of gender reassignment (Vrihannala (Arjun), Śikhaṇḍī), providing explicit details of inclusivity of gender & sexuality in the mainstream society. The amalgamation with different cultures over a period of time has led to decay of the inclusivity in Indian society and has left us with this twisted version of the society we live in.
As the time is changing, we are changing too. The society is waking up to the idea of different genders and sexualities. However, the change is a slow process. The identity of an individual is pretty much equal to an Indian curry dish, the uniqueness of each ingredient brings out the brilliance of it. The identity (Sexuality and gender) brings out an important aspect of oneself and weaves together to form a beautiful part of the web of society. (Nobody likes their curry tasteless right!)
This is what I want to advice to the young people out there, who are tired in living inside a shell for too long. “Be patient” – Your loved ones want your happiness at the end of the day. They are scared to accept you because for them the only life that exists is traditional heterosexual set up. They are asking you to change because they are scared of consequences of the events they hear are happening around the world. Yes! They are going to support you, if you will be patient with them.
Contributed by Mrinal Singh who in his words is “A Queer man, An Educationist, An Engineer & a Human foremost.”