Why Are We So Unaccepting Of Queerness?

At a recent social "do" I attended, the topic of discussion was: Youngsters today are "experimenting" with their sexual and gender identities!

The other day, at a social do, a few of us women in our fifties started a discussion that left me feeling disturbed. The topic: How youngsters today are ‘experimenting’ with their sexual and gender identities.

The tone of the discussion was harsh and judgmental. I remained quiet, but my stomach churned at the ‘holier than thou’ attitude of one particular person. There were a few who spoke up gently in support of youngsters. They said that life was complicated and difficult for today’s teenagers and young adults.

And, wait! Who am I to judge anyone? Don’t I look askance when I see a young man sporting a nose ring or wearing nail polish? This is despite telling myself that sexual and gender identities are either innate or a choice made by a person that no one else has any right to question.

There has been progress…

It has been five years since The Supreme Court of India decriminalized homosexuality. In fact, the debate in the apex court now is on making same sex marriages legal.

The film fraternity has responded with a spate of films on LGBTQ+ themes in recent years. Some have been loud, others more sensitive. But the message is clear – accept queerness. I would like to mention here that one of the most sensitive films made on the subject was ‘My Brother Nikhil’ way back in 2005, years before the 2018 Supreme Court verdict.

Close on the heels of the decriminalisation of homosexuality came the Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Act, 2019. The Act allows transgender persons in India to be recognised as such and allows them to have a self-perceived gender identity. The provisions look into the issuance of a certificate of identity, including a certificate stating change in gender.

But has society followed suit?

When the law has taken this liberal, humanist outlook, what’s stopping us people from following suit? Not just the law, psychology has helped society understand and accept differing sexual identities. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases. Psychological studies have revealed that gays and lesbians function as well in the professional and personal spheres as heterosexual persons.

As far as gender identities go, these days many youngsters come out as being gender fluid or non-binary. They find themselves somewhere in the spectrum between male and female. This is their reality. It is not an attempt to be different or cool. They express their gender in the way they dress, behave and express themselves. They may like to be addressed with the pronoun ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’.

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It’s not easy being queer in India or anywhere else for that matter. As adults, we need to be compassionate and accepting of our youngsters. And, it has to begin NOW.

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About the Author

Aruna Raghuram

I am a freelance journalist and write on parenting, personalities, women’s issues, environment, and other social causes. read more...

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