Let’s Not Lose Good Teachers Over Our Bigotry About Their Sexuality!

“Madam, my son says there’s a homosexual teacher here. In that case, I demand that this professor is dismissed with immediate effect. I wouldn’t want my son to be associated with such a person. Nor do I think the institution should be.”

Trigger Warning: This deals with homophobia and may be triggering for survivors.

The auditorium reverberated with applause when the ‘Fishpond’ game was announced. It happened to be the most entertaining filler in between the main events of the college festival. As a teaching staff, I wasn’t particularly fond of this particular section of the program. Because the students more than often vented out their personal vendetta on fellow classmates and at times, teachers.

Well, I am a professor at an engineering college and the incident I am narrating happened some fourteen years back, in a college situated in interior Maharashtra. The students were predominantly hostelites, and we teachers were provided with accommodation within the campus.

So, returning to the fish-pond, amidst all professing of love and friendly banter, a strange one turned up.

“Now this one is dedicated to Prof. A (I won’t want to name him here). A song.

Bas Yahi Apradh Main Baar Baar Karta Hu, Aadmi Hu Aadmi Se Pyaar Karta Hu.”

Instinctively we all turned to look at A. His face had turned red, he just sat there listlessly staring at the stage. The silence of the hall was shattered with some laughter and loud chatter.

“Enough!” the captain shouted and that was thankfully the end of the fish pond.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

But the incident wasn’t to be put away that easily after all. Lunchtime found us discussing A.

“These fishpond notes need to be scrutinized by teachers. Remember last year, when they mocked our English-speaking skills?” I reasoned.

“But that was true, isn’t it? Preethi, there’s no smoke without fire. He’s over 30, but unmarried.” One senior professor quipped.

“He has maintained he doesn’t wish to get married at all, one of the staff had brought him some proposals.” Someone else talked.

I wondered how soon the tables had turned here. Prof. A, our star colleague wasn’t just smart and dashing, but he was an exceptional teacher too. Students would rush to his lectures, he was an inspiration to many of us. Academically accomplished, artistic, helpful… there was so much in him to learn from.

The festival ended, and classes resumed. A was his smiling self again, but I had a gnawing feeling that he was holding back a little. He didn’t mingle much with us, he would take lunch all alone at his desk.

The gossip somehow never ceased.

“There’s this new FACEBOOK now in place of ORKUT. It seems, his relationship status in that is ‘Complicated’. What’s the complication?”

“I asked a few students, he goes biking, hiking, and trekking with a guy. There are just so many pictures of these two on that Facebook, no girls it seems.”

“Arre, yesterday I met him in the supermarket. He was with a guy. Beemaar hai. (He’s sick). People like him should be treated yaar. What if he hits on one of our students?”

But all hell broke loose when one of the parents met me.

“Madam, my son says there’s a homosexual teacher here. In that case, I demand that this professor is dismissed with immediate effect. I wouldn’t want my son to be associated with such a person. Nor do I think the institution should be.”

As his son’s class teacher, I tried my best to convince him that it was a silly fish pond prank, but the man persisted. Turned out, some other guardians had approached the staff as well and submitted their concerns in writing.

That was the last that we saw of Prof. A. He proceeded on unpaid leave when the issue got blown out of proportion. Amidst this, rumours went afloat that A had changed his relationship status to ‘In A Relationship with XYZ’. I checked his page, it wasn’t a rumour after all, it was true. ‘XYZ’ was a man.

A brave move it was, definitely. It seems A had been summoned by the management and he had opened up with no qualms.

The grapevine was abuzz though.

“Shameless. See, he has confessed finally. I always knew.”

“Good riddance. All this is against nature and bad influence.”

Two days later, the Principal called for an urgent staff meeting.

“I won’t take much of your time. This is to inform you that the management has decided that Prof. A will be continuing with us. We believe in equality. Prof. A is a competent teacher and we respect good professionals irrespective of their caste, religion, gender, or any aspect. This will be officially mailed to students and parents. All of you could pass on the same information if some guardian enquires. Thank you.”

Amidst the jabbering that ensued, he spoke again, “Henceforth, the content presented on-stage, on a public platform will be monitored by the Cultural In-charge.”

But A didn’t return. Turned out, he e-mailed his resignation to our HOD. This was communicated to us in the weekly HOD meeting.

“See, in spite of being reinstated, he preferred to walk away. I talked to him, and he has made up his mind to pursue Ph.D. in the US. He’s good, of course, he’ll get through. What’s sad is, he wasn’t much bothered about us or the management talking, but deeply hurt by the way his students treated him. They humiliated him publicly, the parents ridiculed him, and some of us did cut off ties with him. All I want to say is, we might be met with such incidents in the future, could be staff, or students. As teachers, we should learn to be more sensitive, and not discriminate. I’m glad that the management has taken a mature and fair stand, we’ll be one of those institutions which treat all employees with dignity.”

As we walked out, I heard two of the staff whisper, “Apne sir bhi waise hain kya? (Is Sir gay too?)”

It’s been many years, I’m now affiliated with another institution. I’m connected with A on LinkedIn, he’s pursuing a post-doc, and teaching at a leading university. Their gain, because he’s accepted. Our loss, I wish we in India don’t lose eminent teachers or professionals anymore, over their sexuality.

Artísanté chocolates – an EXCLUSIVE range of fine gourmet chocolates – are #CelebratingTheRainbow with us this year – read all the posts here. The first 10 submissions selected by our editors as featured entries get a gift coupon of Rs. 1,000 each from Artísanté. You can also get a FLAT 20% discount on purchasing from Artísanté: Use discount code PRIDE20.

Do you have a work-place story as rainbow sheep? Let us know!

Liked this post?

Join the 100000 women at Women's Web who get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads - you can also start sharing your own ideas and experiences with thousands of other women here!


About the Author

65 Posts | 147,599 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories