Melissa Etheridge, a famous American rock singer, songwriter and activist, came out publicly as a lesbian in January 1993. She is one such woman who broke the psychological fetters of the society attached to the sexuality of women and embraced her unique identity of homosexuality.
‘I love you’. These three words are said a number of times by us to the ones we care for. Not, everyone is as open to use these words as we are. They are crippled and suppressed by the society’s description of gender relation, forcing them to choose only opposite sex partners.
Homosexuals in India lead an ambiguous life as the society, till now, has not cordially accepted them.
In fact, their life is more like a rollercoaster ride, at one moment they feel blessed and thrilled with their loved one’s company, but, at the same time fear of society prevails.
Love is a feeling that flows in everyone irrespective of their age and sex. Indian families do not openly allow their daughters to roam with their male friends. They appreciate if the girl has many female friends. Then why brows are raised when the same girl decides to choose her female friend as her life partner?
Indian cinema holds the power to bring a remarkable change in society, provided that it is made with passion and sensitivity. Smart selection of the themes of the movie could leave significant impact on the society. Filmmakers have tried to draw the attention of the audience to the ups and downs of the life of homosexuals. But, a few gay and lesbian themed movies have been able to gain the applause of the audience and critics.
In 1996, the movie Fire depicted the life of two women who gradually fall in love with each other, after being shunned by their husbands. On the release of the movie, the reviewers applauded its explicit depiction of homosexual relationship as “guts”, “explosive” and “path breaking”. Films like Girlfriend (2004), My Brother Nikhil (2005) and Dunno Y… Na Jane Kyun (2010) were launched with the same aim of highlighting the agony of the life of homosexuals. But, not all received equal praise. Syed Ali Raza, Mumbai based freelance Director, is currently working on a movie that has a small element of homosexuality, in one of the characters. He said that the purpose of picking up such character is to make “people accept them in our society by making them have their own space as well”. He further said, “Everyone has a life and should be allowed to live the way he or she wants”. Rajesh Verma, a Cricketer at Mumbai Cricket Association and a movie buff warmly accepts the feelings and emotions of homosexuals. He said, “They should be given the right to live and express themselves”.
In 2009, the High Court of New Delhi struck down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code constituted in 1860 by Thomas Babington Macaulay. The law stated, “Whosoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years or liable to fine”. The struck down of the law helped society in recognizing and understanding different needs of the individuals. After all, love isn’t just about physical connection it is also about emotional connection.
Not everybody is comfortable in accepting the life of homosexuals. Sohel.A. Chandiwala, an employee in a Mumbai based construction company, said “lesbians and gay men should not be allowed to get married”. During a parliamentary session on decriminalising of homosexuality, Lalu Prasad Yadav, leader of Rashtriya Janata Dal vehemently opposed the idea of allowing homosexuals to lead their life in their own way. He said that homosexuality in India will destroy the culture and tradition. He enquired saying, “Women marrying women and men marrying men. Where is this country of saints and sages headed for”?
Indian youth is more focused in making a place for the homosexuals in the society. Walking with Pride is one of the many events that take place in cities like Mumbai and New Delhi to encourage gay men to step out from their closet and enjoy life. Lesbians also take part in the march by holding placards and banners. Besides, clubs for gay men and lesbians have also been opened.
Homosexuality is not new to India. Hint of it could be seen in the ancient literature especially in Kama Sutra written by Vatsyayana, in 4th century. The text deals with kama or desire (of all kind). In the text practices of homosexuals have also been described. There are many other texts on homosexuality like Sushruta Samhita, a highly-respected Hindu medical text dating back to 600 B.C. Here, the question strikes, if Indian history has embraced homosexuals then why can not the present India? Many men and women are forced to lead an isolated life only because of the dogmatic theories of society. Time is changing and now it is the time to bring significant changes in the society.