Thursday, November 12, 2009

Polls and Polls

  Reposted from Pink Pages

CNN’s State Of The Nation” poll results unraveled that 73 % thought homosexuality should be considered illegal, 77% thought homosexuality is unnatural, 60% thought of it to be a disease, 62% thought homosexuality could be cured. 

Once upon a time it was illegal to have consensual sex with an adult of the same sex in private! Once upon a time you saw people actually scan through online dictionaries for the meaning of words like gay, lesbian, fag. Not so long ago, if politicians did ever mention “377” we would jump, scream and burp in absolute enthusiasm. That was our yesterday, so tabooed and ominous, where just a flicker of hope gave us a surfeit of happiness. But openly, we were nothing. All our screams and belches went in despair; distorted voices were as good as silence, emerging from several closets, they fell to deaf ears.

Tracking back, from thenness to nowness, from masks to tasks, our metamorphosis was in tune with that of the politicos and society at large. Anburami Ramadoss came out very strongly in favor of section 377 to be read down. Finding hope trapped in the least expected quarters, definitely felt nice. Yahoo groups were flooded with mail trails expressing joy. Some were optimistic of a positive change; some thought that this was just another “gone with the wind” story. Many were buoyant and thought of this as the genesis of change. But this was short-lived. When Ramadoss quit, the flame was flickering, and what seemed as a possibility of a bright dawn seemed to be again, a dreary dusk.

Then came in election time. We were such a non issue – a minuscule minority of the least possible denominator. Why would our voice matter in the chorus of the multimillion Indians? There were other causes that would be truly election winning! Why would they whine over a controversial subject in times when people were desperately taking disparate measures to distinctly make a mark? Well, there were LGBT activists who met up with people from every political party to put forth their point… though many supported, the question of whether they would support the cause openly, or whether they would include the same in their political manifestos was still in stillness.

I remember having attended a show on NDTV, the topic being discussed was election politics in South Bombay, the issues addressed ranged from poverty to education, to space… not surprising though, we found no space in it. As I said, we were largely a dead letter. But having the mike in hand, I couldn’t resist asking what I wanted to know very strongly. It was okay and obvious a stand when it came to poverty, or education, no one would say “lets us be poor, or let there be more uneducated people.” I popped up the question to candidates Meera Sanyal and Milind Deora , “ What about issues like homosexuality? Where you are required to take a stand, it’s not very comfortable, is it?” I proclaimed “I am a gay man, what about my rights?”. Meera Sanyal wasted no time in elevating her eye brows and saying with absolute confidence and self belief candidly on camera that she was for the decriminalization of homosexuality. Milind Deora again spoke on camera, about the AIDS outreach and the inability of theirs to reach the homosexual population given section 377.

It came as a reprieve, this discussion that took a positive overturn. At a time that everyone was just mulling in sorrow and was sanguine about changelessness, came a bomb of a High Court verdict. Disshhh dannng doing!!!! There was music, there was dance, and there was happiness. The average Joe of the LGBT community, repressed, depressed and silenced for ages was now out in his own spunk and sheen. The dailies that saw a handful of LGBT people repeated again and again, got juice, soup and scoops of newer people. Every daily went pink, some with gay news in practically every page. Funny it may sound, on 2nd of July I was unwell, and took a day off from work, I was sleeping away to glory just to be woken up by a TV channel for a telephonic interview, the interviewer asked “how are you feeling now that you are legal”. I thought the guy had gone bananas. I asked him politely what the matter was, and he very excitedly told me “consensual sex amongst adults has been decriminalized”. I was spell bound, shut and shaken. The voice on the other end said “Sir could we go online, could we have your reactions.” I could somehow manage to say, “ohh ohhh okay” and then I could hear the reporter speak, as she mentioned my name… I simply said “sorry, I need to gather my thoughts, I’m so happy, I don’t know what it means, I don’t know what it should mean… I just want to scream and shout and dance” and I did that, it was just the most uncomposed interview I had ever given, though very positive. And I did exactly that, I called up every body that I could. Came out openly and personally to even those whom I hadn’t. And had this gush of energy that flowed in me in jet speed. I could feel my heartbeat. I was zapped to switch on my Television and find our community on practically all channels.

But now that we were out and about, achieved what we were praying for, we needed to take notice of newer challenges, there were also more eyes that were prying precariously with an intent of causing harm. We achieved the right to love and make love, and some found it loud and lewd. Those who were silent about their apprehensions also timorously emerged. Some well wishers too opined that one should not be so out-in-the-open. And we in a common chorus asked “why not?”

But did we blow the whistle too much and jumped the gun with gay marriages galore, much to the discomfort of the perpetual pretentious moral guardians of culture and nature? This is a question that will find different answers. But one thing is now for sure – there is more awareness, two males or females merely holding hands would not be just seen as “just friends”. Awareness will definitely have a flip side. There were some polls conducted by leading dailies and channels which gave a lopsided view against the LGBT community. Example would be the HT- CNN IBN poll conducted in 16 cities where 3506 people were interviewed, the results were shared on the CNN show “State Of The Nation” the results of the poll unraveled that “73 % thought homosexuality should be considered illegal”, “77% thought- same sex is unnatural”, “60% thought of it to be a disease”, “62% thought homosexuality could be cured”, “83% think homosexuality is against Indian Culture” and “94% of the correspondents don’t have a gay or a lesbian friend”. It’s natural for us to rubbish such statistics. Yes, I did have a “what the eff” look on my face when I read this. “How does it anyway matter”, I said to myself. But reflecting on it, I did realize that we as a nation are obsessed with statistics and numbers. Haven’t we resolved the battles of choices in school “majority wins”… it’s indented in our mind since then. (Is this how it is elsewhere in the world? I don’t know) So it does psychologically impact people into believing that homosexuality is a disease and could be cured. It did boost the morale of some naysayers in my extended family, who jumped to the occasion and said “See, what the results are. Didn’t I tell you”. I did understand the impact of such polls, it didn’t make much difference to me personally, as I am openly gay. But I could well imagine the state of those who have just come out to their parents, and convinced them of their sexuality as being natural and not something that was chosen.

Change is here to be! I am optimistic. Yes. Now that consensual sex between adults irrespective of sexuality is legal, the natural next step would be to campaign for marriage rights, adoption rights, property rights etcetera, etcetera. I personally feel, we can’t just gallop without letting the dust settle. Let’s thank our ministers in the UPA for taking a stand. And standing firm there. For the next step, let’s not jump, let’s hold our horses… What say?


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Anirban said...

The post is indeed very relevant. It is interesting to note how visibility brings with it a host of fears and misconceptions. However, it's encouraging to see that people have started acknowledging the fact that it exists, hence the debate/discussion/dialogue has begun. Enjoyed reading your other entries as well. Good work :)

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