Back in the day, when homosexuality was still a taboo, Tara Kaushal, then 16, befriended a transgender woman. With time, they became such good friends that one day she took her home to meet her parents. What she remembers next is all of them sitting in her living room, chit chatting over tea and snacks. Her family had welcomed her new friend with open arms!
Since then, Kaushal, 34, has made several gay friends and is even close to them. Her interest in understanding the complexities of gender and sexuality deepened so much with time that she pursued Gender for her Masters. Today, apart from writing full-time, she grabs every opportunity to stand up for equal rights.
As we begin with our interview on a showery Tuesday night, Kaushal shows us the equal to (=) sign that she has got inked on her wrist. “This is to exhibit my support for equal rights,” she shares, “I think the youth of this country must unite for this cause.”
Sexuality is just one aspect
Kaushal says what saddens her the most is how equal rights continue to remain a distant dream for many, especially the sexual minorities, in the country. “Somehow, when one is gay, sexuality is made into an overriding aspect of life. That is unfair,” says Kaushal. “I have many close LGBT friends and I feel their lives are harder than it should be. I don’t understand how sexuality defines a person when it’s just one aspect of life,” she adds.
A vile encounter comes rushing to her: “A transgender was working with me in a company. While the company was supportive, others were spreading rumours and gossiping about her sexuality openly in the office.” “It’s unfair how LGBTs are often unnecessarily pushed into a corner where they are deeply defined by this one aspect,” says Kaushal, who is currently working on a gender-journalism project ‘Why Indian Men Rape’.
We cannot have a paranoid culture
Commenting on Section 377, Kaushal says, she has a huge problem in what the country seems to stand for. “I have an issue with how conservative some politicians are. In some situations, they need to set an example and lead,” she says, while adding, “It’s high time, we, as a country, rethink what we stand for.”
Apart from having an inclusive culture, Kaushal says, learning to be empathetic towards others is the need of the hour. For that, she believes decriminalising Section 377 is crucial as it has an impact on people’s attitude towards LGBTs. “I don’t think it’s a matter of debate in the first place. The law needs to lead the way,” she signs off.