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As an intrinsically homophobic society, we think nothing of sacrificing the happiness of gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual persons (and their spouses) by forcing them into traditional marriages.
We use phrases like ‘for the sake of your family’ to kill the happiness and freedom of members of our own. So it’s not very surprising when you hear stories about gay men being forced (sometimes physically, sometimes psychologically, sometimes both) to marry a woman to save their family’s izzat (honour) while sacrificing their own rights.
And this was the theme of one of the several subplots in ‘The Family Man’. Vaibhav, a chemical factory employee, was a homosexual man married to a woman. He was blackmailed by terrorists to assist them in leaking poisonous gases from his factory, or else they would send his wife a video of him having sex with another man.
He was guilty of cheating on his wife and breaking her trust. No one can deny that. He probably knew that himself, which is why he was trying to hide his identity. But was the fear of being found out so great that he first tried to attempt suicide and then was compelled to help his blackmailers?
If this were a real situation then we need to ask ourselves what would have been the circumstances under which someone like Vaibhav would be compelled to marry a girl even when he liked men and then also stay in that marriage.
Opening up to people about being gay is one of the most difficult things to do in India. Even though the Supreme Court has decriminalized consensual sex among homosexuals, we are still not able to accept them as people. They are not a part of our mainstream because we have forced them to hide their sexual orientation, something that is an inseparable part of a human being, in their closets.
The Indian government was extremely apprehensive about coming out in support of the community until the judgement was passed because it feared a backlash from its support groups.
With so much hate do you think that our traditional families be able to accept that their son is gay and wants to stay that way? There is a belief that getting married or having a kid will cure you of your ‘gayness’. But that’s not how it works, and no one is willing to accept that.
Some of us loathe their presence because of the idea that they engage in ‘unnatural sex’. Some of us treat their being gay as a ‘medical problem’ which needs to be ‘cured’. And some of us pretend that they don’t even exist.
We regularly make offensive jokes about them. Our stereotypes of how they look or walk or talk just reflect our prejudices against them.
If you watch movies like ‘Aligarh‘ and ‘I Am’ you will get an idea of how much we hate them here in India. Watching ‘Aligarh’ was just so painful because it was true. To see a senior professor being hounded and harassed for his life choices exposed the cruelty of our so-called ‘moral society’.
What we are doing is taking away someone’s freedom to live their way and forcing them into loveless marriages just to keep ourselves happy. And that is the most selfish thing anyone can do.
Anyone who has ever been stuck in a loveless marriage will understand the hardships that come with it. And it does not get better by having kids. On the other hand the life of those kids become equally nightmarish.
You keep on compromising as much as you want but you cannot wish your sexual orientation away, and you will have to choose between breaking away from your marriage or lead a double life as many in our country are forced to do. And then they are judged for doing so.
We have yet to legalize same-sex marriages in India and we still have not given live in relationships the legitimacy (both societal and legal) it so deserves. It’s time we do so because the problem of being forced to marry outside your sexual orientation or being forced to marry at all, is not restricted to gay men, but it equally affects all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. And the fact that we are playing with the physical and mental wellbeing of the whole community is nothing short of a crime.
We need to act now. For if we don’t do so we are not just condemning people from that community to a lifetime of unhappiness, but we are also doing the same to their partners. And that is not what marriages are for.
Image source: shutterstock
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