This week in FSoG we examine freedom of choice. Choice is central theme of the LGBTQ community. Choosing to come out; to remain closeted; the choice to speak up for your peers or remain silent.
This manifestation of choice presents itself in many ways. The Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO promoting LGBTQ activism, recently released a study revealing that over 70% of gay Mumbaikars are married to the opposite sex before their 30th birthday.
FSoG unequivocally supports any approach that minimizes harm to anyone deciding to come out, and shaming those who choose to remain in the closet is akin to heterosexist bigotry against those who have chosen to come out. However that less than 30% of all homosexuals in Mumbai seemingly do not have control – and thus choice – of their own lives is a miserable thought.
Navin Noronha, one of India’s few openly gay comedians, decided early in life that he would not deceive himself and those around him with regards to his orientation. Reading about gay men in denial, driven to depression and end up getting married, “destroying someone else’s life in the bargain,” Navin felt coming out to be the only “logical solution.” After doing so, like almost all of our FSoG subjects, he received “nothing but support and love from friends, colleagues and family members.”
"When everything else in my life went sideways, humour is the only thing that kept me going. Contemplating suicide at the age of 17 isn’t uncommon among gay youngsters. But I was fortunate enough to have friends who would laugh at my mundane jokes hard enough for me to postpone my suicide plans every day. Until I decided to postpone the plan indefinitely and bore more people with my jokes. I have been following stand-up comedy ardently since I was young. What I admired most about the art form is that it can be no-holds-barred and demands a lot from its audience, and even more from the comedian."
"I used to devour hours and hours of stand-up footage featuring greats like George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Stewart Lee, Louis CK, Ricky Gervais, Wanda Sykes and Doug Stanhope to name a few. So I decided that the next logical step was to try it out myself. I read somewhere that stand-up comedy works best when it is a personal tale that you tell the audience, the quirks of your personality and what you feel about certain things. So I thought about it for a while and realized that I could talk about being gay, as that is something that not many comedians tackle.
The increasing amount of depression and suicides among LGBTQ individuals and those who are questioning their sexuality is simply shocking. Being pressured by our homophobic society into remaining closeted is certainly a gross injustice; to resort to marriage in order to normalize sexuality is even worse. This issue of giving in to social pressure affects a vast majority of LGBTQ individuals in India and cannot be thought of as a solution to the problem.
Navin feels,"the lack of comprehensive sex education is one of the biggest obstacles we face today in our country. Most people just assume it's a gender displacement issue, furthered by psychological barriers. The fact that no one chooses to be gay is still not clear enough for many."
The promotion of equality has always been implicit in the work of FSoG. We provide help and support to LGBTQ people nationwide who are struggling with their sexuality. So whether its relationships, coming out, family issues, knowing your legal rights, reporting a hate crime or you just need someone to talk to get in touch and tell us how we can help. Write to us at LGBTsupport@fiftyshadesofgay.co.in