Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Freedom To Be

I am a man. I’m a free man. I am a free gay man. I am a free gay man in independent India. Freedom is a celebration of all colours, my 6 coloured rainbow is just a part of it. I’m a small yet significant voice in the cosmos of sexuality. I am more than a mere statistical figure. I am not an ‘anybody’ that you can assign a small bloody percentage to and make me feel like a nonentity.

The concept of freedom means different to different people. To me, it is the freedom to be. To be what I am with no fear of compulsions from the world that is sees everything from the heterosexual lens. 

It is ingrained in our minds from womb to tomb that there are two genders, and we need to get married to the gender that is not ours. I remember how the girls I played with in school became my girlfriends, but the boys never got referred to as “boy friend’s”. My amammaa (grandmom) taught me god helps those who help themselves; unfortunately, my grand mom did not reflect the same sentiments when she learned that I loved people in my gender. She took some seven rounds of the siddhi vinayak mandir to request godji’s divine intervention in turning me heterosexual. I tried to explain to her in godly terms “amamma it was not the case of god who created man, and man created homosexuals. Actually god created homosexual men.” It took me some more moons to explain to her the different flavors of sexuality, and that she was working against gods intent by looking to transform what godji made people naturally. I explained to her that homosexuality is found in over 450 species and humans are just one of them. She finally understood after years and years of wanting to find me a suitable bride. Is she free from prejudices about sexuality? Yes. But is she free from prejudices per se?NAAAH.. she now wants me to marry a vegetarian hindu boy. Preferably a South Indian tamil speaking iyer-boy who is not from Vadhula gotram.

We are never really free from prejudices. We still are a country in which the voice of anyone swimming against the tide is engulfed by the tidal wave of predefined customs, traditions and religion. We don’t look for validation from god; we in fact create our own god that will be in tandem with our thoughts. Homosexuals, Bisexuals and transsexuals go through a lot of bias in the name of god and religion and customs, for we as a collective society dread the different. LGBT persons are just that – different. But just as different as two heterosexuals or any two individuals would be. And god, if she/he/T does exist, am sure would not agree to discriminate between individuals - and never basis their sexuality. In free india, I beg for freedom from interpretations of customs that bind. For a change, how about customs that value-add, let you be, give you wings and set you free?

Well, is it dharma and customs-traditions ka drama alone that is being used as an alibi for our prejudices? Not really. Sometimes it gets personal. After I appeared in an NDTV show with Barkha on homosexuality, I received a series of hate mails. I wasn’t complaining. I loved the fact that my haters took time off their busy schedule to write mails to me. But amongst them were also some “kind” (pun intended) souls, who pitied me and told me how I should live my life and also gave me some valuable tips about how I could spice up my sex life to enjoy sex with the other gender and make babies. It was their definition of a happy-family. I live on a staple diet of bollywood movies. And I know that we romanticize the idea of a mother-father-child “complete” family. We are obsessed with the idea of procreation. Procreation is the detrimental factor of sexual potency. But we don’t speak about sex (and sexuality is a forbidden word). We just have a lot of it. A non-child-bearing woman is ill-treated and discriminated. She is called Baanj. A man with low sperm count is called a Na-Mardh(not-a-man). It is sad that this happens in the age of test tube babies, surrogate moms and at a time when Vicky donors of the world are working hard to give the world a vial of a million potent sperms. Homosexuals fall under the purview of intolerance against non-procreators. We are a country obsessed with the idea of making babies. In fact we associate the phrase “starting a family” with making babies. Any kind of sex that doesn’t yield babies is considered unnatural. Sex that isn’t for procreation is looked down upon. And not that all homosexuals cannot procreate. Homosexuals don’t wish to put a part of their body where their heart isn’t. We don’t feel sexually attracted towards the opposite sex. And we need to be commended for being honest about it, because getting married and experimenting with your wife is an easy choice. 

It is like a gamble. A man sleeps with his wife and keeps practicing, keeps using her as a guinea pig. Sometime for sure he will hit jackpot. Sadly the woman is not a roulette parlor and the man is not the spin ball. 

And it is inhumane to even think of people are pawns for procreation. Being a student of lifescience, I have had the opportunity to check my sperm under a microscope and I tell you, I can put aayushman khurana (Vicky donor) to shame. But that’s not the factor of my sexuality. It is not that because I have it, I need to use it to the optimum capacity and produce ‘results’. My life is not a science lab. Sexuality is beyond the paradigms of procreating capabilities. Many mothers of homosexual kids play the trump card of emotional blackmail. “what will happen to you when you turn old? Who will look after you.” And if this was not enough they get the patriarchy in it “who will give shoulder to your dead-body or lit your funeral pyre or bury you dead”. Some overtly concerned nosey moms work as wish-granting fairies, they give their gajar ka halwa and badaam ka doodh and many other magic potions to change their sexuality. It doesn’t change the sexuality of their children. If it does, it only pumps in more testosterone and catapults their libido to a dangerously exponential level. 

The truth is that in free India, we are still looking for reasons to crucify anyone who doesn’t procreate. How I wish that we stopped defining normal and abnormal basis procreating abilities and stopped looking at people who don’t procreate as abject and diseased creatures. 

The reality is that sex is not just natural if it is for procreation, it is natural even if it is for recreation.

A recent episode of “gumraah” in television channel V focused on homosexuality. It spoke about some jealous young men fitting a webcam to spy on their friend’s sex life. They were ‘amazed’ and ‘disgusted’ when they learnt that their friend is not dating-mating with a woman but another man. The episode was a window to the snooping padosan (neighbor) syndrome that is an epidemic in India. We all want to know who is “DOING” whom. And if she/he or T is “doing it” a different way, we feel disgusted. I think that is cheap to peep into or comment about anyone else’s sex life. Even though, I often share in the spirit of humour “I will appreciate people being jealous of it”. This episode also helped me discover something that I as a homosexual man never knew about. The overtly empathetic anchor of the show said “homosexuality is not a disease. It is a LIFESTYLE”. My eyes popped out. I wanted to get inside the TV screen and give a Hi-Five to the anchor’s face. “Sexuality is not a fad moron”. It is not a brand. I don’t wake up every morning and say “o god! I am bored of homosexuality, let me try heterosexuality” and 

yeah- I will wear my whiteness smile, best-a-man-can-get suit, the aaram-ka-maamla befitting underwear and top it up with a bit of homosexuality?

And people don’t sell sexuality at the nearby fashion store. (Though, I do find the shopkeeper cute). This independence day I look for freedom from definitions that don’t really define us. In fact, I refuse to be defined by the world. I refuse to be confined. I am of free spirit. I am not a passing fad. I will define what I am myself. While I love being called “creative”. I refuse to be pigeonholed in these compartments. I am much beyond. Yes, we are hairdressers, we are makeup artists, we are dancers, we are creative people but we are also lawyers, accountants, journalists, HR professionals, cab fellows and rickshaw drivers. And still if you insist that “Stereotypes exist” let me tell you that 
“NORMAL is the biggest stereotype”
I refused to be shackled in the name of culture, tradition, procreation or even by your definition of ‘my’ god. The only thing that’s abnormal is discrimination. And we are abnormal too. We discriminate within us. Bisexuals and transsexuals are discriminated within the LGBT sphere. They are seen as pansy or cheaters. The fact that I use the word THEY is a bias by itself. The truth is that they are only as normal or abnormal as heterosexuals and homosexuals. This discrimination makes us equal to heterosexuals who discriminate. (Well, not that it is a thing for us to be proud of) Bisexuality, Homosexuality, Transexuality, Pan Sexuality and even Heterosexuality are just wordy definitions of desires. We seek freedom from bias, societal compulsions and funny compartmentalization of our desires. We seek the right to LOVE. We, who form sexualities other than heterosexuality, accept heterosexuals with an open heart in our society. We wish they take a cue from us and bid adieu to their discrimination. It only limits them. Love has no boundaries, and freedom is my right to be me and continue being me in a world that wants me to be the other.

(this was the first draft of the article that i wrote for  Indian Express CLICK HERE to read the article. Had to edit the article to keep up with for word-limit lochas)

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