We live in an era where self-acceptance is the order of the day. Mottos like “be yourself” and “be proud of who you are” are drilled into our minds repeatedly in an attempt to make us love who we are and own it; and yet, we take a look at some people and without knowing much about them, condemn them for the exact same things.
The LGBTQ community in India has been stigmatized in such a way that many of them have problems coming to terms with who they are. They’re unable to accept the fact that something like this could happen to them and end up hating themselves for it, leading to several mental health problems and even suicides. Research has shown that at least 16 LGBTQ youths commit suicide every month in India.
This happens mainly due to two reasons:
- Growing up in an environment where sex is considered taboo and all things related to it are discussed in hush hush tones, most people don’t have an idea that they could have an alternate sexuality. When confronted with it, even in their own mind, they decide it is wrong due to fear of the unknown. It’s something they’ve never heard being talked about and hence, it must be wrong.
- Being LGBTQ is stigmatized to such an extent that even those closest to them- their family and friends- cannot accept the possibility of them not being heterosexual, and choose to condemn it. They have to deal with ostracization, disinheritance and even murder threats from those they thought were their own people.
Similar is the story of Anonymous, a chartered accountant in Mumbai. Due to several incidences in the past, he has come to the conclusion that he is sexually attracted to men. However, he is not sure if that renders him homosexual. Travelling by a BEST bus at fifteen, he encountered a man touching him inappropriately. Although he immediately warned him about it, he later experienced pleasure and realized that he is sexually attracted to men. Such is the ignorance and lack of awareness about LGBTQ issues in our country that a fifteen year-old boy found out about his sexuality due to attempted sexual abuse on public transport!
He wants to share his story with the world and would be glad to have a male partner, but cannot come out in the open about his sexuality. He thus wishes to remain anonymous because he believes that his family will either disown him or kill him if they find out about it. It doesn’t matter that he’s a highly educated professional with a qualification that has an annual pass rate of 3.1 percent. It doesn’t matter that he’s a person with feelings and opinions. If the truth about his sexuality comes out in the open, he will be a reduced to a mere statistic about people who are rejected by the society and killed or disowned by their own kin.
Why so we regard something as inconsequential to us as who somebody else chooses to love so seriously that we criminalise it? Why do we create such a stigma around sexuality that people find it difficult to accept themselves based on our acceptance of them? Most importantly, why do we promote self acceptance when it is not for everyone?
The fight for equal human rights for ALL Indians continues...