"What hits me most is that they believe sexual orientation can change and I'm being blamed for not compromising."
Statements like these feel like a dagger in my heart. A dear friend of mine shared this Al-Jazeera article on his Facebook timeline and I can’t thank him enough for that.
Since, the past few days I felt the world was trying to tell me something when I heard stories about people who couldn’t be themselves because of cultural or societal pressures.
This story is about how “Indian gay men’s wives are trapped in marriages”. But who said it’s only the wives who are trapped? One of the interviewees in the article explicitly states
"In our society, even if you have a great job, you are considered a failure if you are not married with kids"
Why is it necessary to be defined by such beliefs? Don’t we all know of unhappy loveless marriages where people just end up being together because they don’t want to upset societal harmony?
What if happiness to me is being able to provide to for my loved ones and having a roof over my head? What if happiness to me is having the liberty to pack my bags at any given point of time and set shop in a country I barely know?
I say all this not because I’m a vocal supporter of gay rights. I say this because I believe in happiness and individuality. We are entitled with the freedom to decide what makes us happy and what doesn’t.
"Most parents tell the men to produce children and be gay in secret," says Anjali Gopalan, the executive director of Naz Foundation in India, an NGO which is actively fighting to decriminalize gay sex in India. Our parents told us to do a lot of things as we grew up. They told us not to have too much ice cream. They told us not to ever touch alcohol. They told us not to talk to strange people. But we did all of that anyway, didn’t we? Then why blame them for asking us to take drastic measures like procreating when we clearly don’t want to?
Maybe, I’m not gay and that’s why I can’t comprehend how it is to be on the other side of the fence. But hiding under the pretext of model behaviour when clearly we don’t always strictly abide by society’s code of conduct is disappointing. Sometimes, all you need is a pair of balls (Excuse me for the sexist language).
What are we so afraid of? They’ll talk behind your back. They’ll ridicule you. They’ll treat you as an outcast. Maybe, yes. They will but if you suffocate who you are in the process of pleasing someone else’s idea of perfection, then you’ll never flourish. It’s a mental suicide. I’d rather live with my heart wide open than bury myself under a false identity.
"Gay sex is not natural and we cannot support something which is unnatural," said Rajnath Singh, Home Minister of India.
There are over 2.5 million gay men in India according to a census conducted by the Government of India. I’m more than certain that the actual number is even higher, Mr. Singh. How can it be unnatural when millions of people across the globe know it to be the most natural way to be?
It’s hard to change how you are perceived by the people around you. But if you are comfortable in your skin, then they will look at you with envy and awe. They’ll secretly wish in their hearts that they could be more like you.
Be who you are. Society will find a way to assimilate you. And if they don’t, do your own thing.
Whatever you do, ask yourself first – Are you happy?
Whatever you do, ask yourself – is this your decision or theirs?
We can never be perfect. But we can always be the best of what we can be.