By Aashna Bhatia
This week we had the pleasure of interviewing another gay couple in the city. Hitesh Singh and Vrushankh Raghtate, a couple whose story is just like any other couple, if you have the unbiased eye to look at love irrespective of the chromosomal configuration of both the partners involved. Over a detailed chat, we debunked stringent stereotypes, overthrew the social construct called GENDER and their answers flowed through the law that doesn’t give them legitimacy like a breath of fresh air. Here is an excerpt from our interview with VrutesH– A Name they like to be called by.
FSOG: Do you think being gay in India comes comes with a burden of first being criminalised by the law and the public?
Hitesh: I don’t really think it’s been a burden in any way as such, it’s always been very easy for me. Also, life as a homosexual is not as difficult as it is portrayed. We need to stop victimising ourselves and start being the hero of our own story.
Vrushankh: It does, it’s very taxing on our part as we waste so much time and energy to keep something as important as our identity a secret, create separate images, pretend to be something we aren’t. We live with this burden of wearing a mask we don’t really need.
2. FSOG: Comment about the social construction and rigidity of gender
Hitesh: A lot of things put me off about the social construct, e.g. getting judgemental looks for wearing particular colours, pink/ bright shades. I am really comfortable with my sexuality and gender identity. Really sorted with the gender assigned to me at birth and I love wearing make up and see nothing wrong with it. Society is nobody to decide the length of our hair, what clothes we wear and what choices I make.
Vrushankh: Well honestly, straight people distort a lot of gender roles too. But it is all prejudiced on gay men owing to our flamboyance.
3. FSOG: How do you guys manage to keep the love alive despite the challenges you face?
H: Getting into a relationship is really easy, but being happy together is where the challenge lies. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. We’ve been together for over two years now, had our fair share of ups and downs, reached the breaking point but at the end, its about the love that we have for each other that matters. Nothing and no one else.
V: By talking to each other a lot, about anything and everything that bothers us, no matter how weird, awkward or uncomfortable it is. Keeping the communication open helps a lot.
4. FSOG: What is your answer to the people who demarcate love on the basis of gender?
H: I wish they could witness one day in our lives. They’d stop. To repress the natural, is beyond painful.
V:These are just souls who still don’t understand themselves. They just need to understand that they sound like people who condemn intercaste marriages or oppress others for slavery. These are the type of people who believe that a society must be a certain way because they are like that, guess what it would be like if LGBTQ was the considered normal and straight people were minorities.
5. FSOG: Do you plan to get married? If yes, do you intend to move abroad or stay put here?
H: We already consider ourselves to be married, had our own little ceremony at pride 2015. Although some day I want to have a big fat indian wedding, with acceptance and involvement of both our families. We are not going to be runaway grooms, we are gay and here to stay.
V: We kind of already are, its the same commitment without the ceremony. Both of us like India a lot. If we do get married in real, we’d stay here and wait until law accepts it too
6. FSOG:What are some of the tv shows the bring you closer and make you guys bond?
H: Grey’s anatomy, modern family.
V: Grey’s Anatomy! That show just makes your day! Its amazing how it has everything. It is so inclusive and perfectly portrays each segment of reality.
7. FSOG: What are your thoughts on Mitch and Cam from Modern Family?
H: I don’t really like how a gay couple is stereotypically portrayed, one a little less masculine than the other, emphasising the fact that one is the man and the other a woman in the relationship. We both are men in our relationship.
V: Mitch and cam are amazingly cute and they fit in the series perfectly. I don’t have much to say, but i like how their father slowly accepts them.
(Some people might say they are too obviously gay / feminine but honestly, thats just normal humans, without a social construct restricting them from acting a certain way)
8. FSOG: Would you like more representation of gay couples on indian television and movies?
H:Yes I’d love to see more of our A list celebs portraying gay characters on the screen. Much respect to Fawad Khan for portraying a gay character so beautifully in Kapoor and sons.
V: Yes of course, something like what Kapoor and Sons did. It was beautiful. Honestly more people need to know that LGBTQI have more in common with them than they think. I respect people who love who they are. What we need is more LGBTQI representation, in a very subtle way.
9. FSOG: Is your family aware about your relationship?
H: My mom is, and she has been very accepting of Vrushankh. We went for a family trip recently and she made it a point that Vrushankh came with us on that trip and whenever we go out for a movie or a family dinner, she makes it a point that vrushankh accompanies us, giving him the ‘damaad’ (Groom) treatment.
V: Not really, they don’t know about my orientation and think that I stay as a paying guest with Hitesh. But it’s over two years now and they’ve all met him. I suppose they have an idea. My in-laws treat me very well. To be in-laws, my correct usage of the term completely depends on the law.
10. FSOG: Give us an insight about your thoughts on section 377?
H: Honestly, 377 has had no impact on my life, but it’s definitely a weapon which is used against the whole LGBTQI community at large. Its just a means of extorting money from us and causing public and personal humiliation and trying to let us down. I see nothing positive about it.
V: It is a moral law, which cannot be imposed on people who don’t wish to believe in a certain ideology or way of life. Lets be honest, if we look at actual application, half the population can be criminalised. Pretty sure people don’t just have penetrative sex all the time, almost all adult sexually active population is involved in oral sex which is a criminal offence.
11. FSOG: What are your views on the new surrogacy bill? Would you term it as homophobic?
H: To term it as ‘homophobic’ would be an understatement. It is downright ignorant and inhumane to stop people from having children who are biologically not capable of having them.
V: It pretty much describes what’s wrong with this government.
12. FSOG: Lastly we asked them the most important question of all time. Due to such laws and acts, do you think we’ll witness a time when heterosexuals would see homosexuals as normal and learn more tolerance?
Hitesh: I honestly don’t see it happening in my lifetime. Although thats not going to stop me from fighting for my right
Vrushankh: I guess it could. There is almost 100% acceptance among my friends. We just need to let this generation grow old enough to have kids and maybe the next one will be much fortunate in terms of acceptance and experience.
Now that’s what I’d call a match of contrasts and a symphony of smashing answers. And you thought Brangelina was goals?