When I came out to my mother as a gay man, she shrugged and said “I always knew!” Living in a country where being gay was a subject of ridicule, mockery, and jokes, to me my mother’s reaction was priceless. In a jiffy, it made up for all the people who gave me a hard time for being who I was when I was growing up; it made up for all the bullying, the harsh words, the trauma, the nights of confusion, everything that a person should not go through solely as a punishment for being different.
When the news of the Supreme Court of India scrapping Section 377 came in this morning, there was more than just happiness in my heart. There was a shimmer of hope, a sense of relief. Maybe now someone else might not have to go through what the older generations of LGBTQ people in India have gone through.
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All those years when I was coming to terms with my sexuality, there were so many stories my friends and I heard about people being thrown out of their own homes when they came out. About people who were taken to see doctors and psychiatrists when they told their parents of their alternate sexuality, and so on. As the years passed by and the fight for LGBTQ rights raged on, more and more people talked about the stigma, the fight. More people came out of the closet and chose to express their individuality.
Cut to today, when the Supreme Court passed a judgement that said “We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens,". The judges also said: "Any discrimination on the basis of sexuality amounts to a violation of fundamental rights".
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There is a reason why this development needs to be celebrated by everyone and not just the LGBTQ community. The right to live life as one is, without discrimination and a fear of prosecution, is not something anyone should fight for. It is a basic human right. One that no one should be fighting for anyway.
Over the years, many people have asked me why it is so important for the LGBTQ people to have legal rights. I am sure a lot of people asked that question today as well: “What is the big deal?” There are many tales of torture that many LGBTQ people do not talk about, and not all of them are connected to the identity crisis that many of us go through. Insults hurled on the street, stares that follow many of us, judgement that comes from the closest loved ones when the moment of truth arrives, and a constant wondering whether we will ever find someone to end up with in life. It is a different battle for all of us.
In all of that, to live in our country without fear of legal harassment and prosecution, acknowledged as equal human beings and not an oddity, and to be able to express our sexualities is all we wanted. Of course, there is still a long way to go - it is the thinking and the mindset of people that needs to change but if there was a start needed, we have one now.
The rest, we will get through. I am adamant to hope, to believe that there is something at the end of the rainbow for all of us.
(Ashish Dutta is Senior Sub Editor, Swirlster. When he is not obsessing over his wardrobe, he is busy listening to The Paper Kites or dancing to 90s Bollywood numbers. He's not your friend if you're not a dog person.)
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