Love is the most restricted thing in the country where stands one of the most magnificent declaration of love, the Taj Mahal.
Abhay Wadia (name changed to protect the identity of the individual) a 17-year-old Indian, who like many others has been forced down the socially acceptable path, finds refuge in remaining closeted, painting ideas, vivid and so full of life.
He started to suspect that he was different at the tender age of five when dressing up in his mom’s clothes interested him more than cars and robots.
Much to his horror, when he was six, his mother found out about his little secret and her socially-conditioned brain couldn’t condone it.
His inexperienced mind couldn’t conceive why his mother was so upset with him dressing up the way he likes, talking how he wants, or just being himself. This meshed with some other factors sent him down an endless pit of depression.
“I was sure I was gay between 10th and 11th grade. Music helped me a lot during my blues. Inspirational pop, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, and Pink really helped pulled me out,” he said.
He described his depression as huge and destructive as a tsunami and he is still dealing with the consequences. A perfect cocktail of low self-esteem blended with body image issues, identity crisis and suicidal thoughts intoxicated his mind.
“It was all just a big game of dominoes where one thing led to another,” he explained.
Bullying was his constant companion, his different way of talking, using his hands a lot and his “feminine ways” were a persistent subject of snickers down the halls of his school.
“I got over it by respecting myself enough to not let their words hurt me. I feel the only reason why I got better was that I wanted to like really really wanted to get better.”
Abhay had no one to talk to, the sheer thought of coming out made his blood run cold. Consequences could be fatal in India, all thanks to Section 377, which criminalizes the LGBTQ community in India.
He believes that Section 377 of the Indian constitution is a regressive hypocritical law which goes against freedom of speech and expression.
It is not only against homosexuals, as it makes any sexual activity not meant for the purpose of reproduction, even public display of affection, illegal.
This law has led to constant fear, isolation and loneliness, which curdled in Abhay’s mind into a sour hesitation of even thinking about getting into a relationship or talking about his situation with anyone.
When asked about his feelings regarding the terms used to describe the LGBTQ community, Abhay said, “I don’t really like the word homosexual being used for us, I feel that it just puts emphasis on our sexuality like there is nothing more to me than being gay or lesbian or trans.”
Abhay believes that the use of the word “gay” as an insult is completely absurd and that it should be given the dignity of a word.
When asked about his thoughts on the status of the LGBTQ community in India, he says he considers it to be “not a very gay experience.”
Believes that Indians are not necessarily homophobes they are simply homo ignorants, and ignorance is a choice.
This is primarily why he hasn’t come out yet, the ignorance has stupefied the masses and has led to instances of conversion therapy through yoga and the rise of certain quacks or fake doctors who through their irrational methods claim that they can convert one’s true essence into something one cannot embody.
He believes that there is a humongous image deficit that the LGBTQ community faces in India, they are often tagged on the basis of perceptions people have of the community because of the media coverage, which is a joke and is completely biased.
“Don’t get me started on the portrayal of LGBTQ community in Bollywood. They all are over-sexualized and just a means to glorify the heterosexual lead which is not true at all.”
He feels that tagging one’s feelings as just a “phase” is sheer denial and frankly demeaning as the person is not given the liberty to feel complete and it may be a phase for some, but that cannot be generalised.
In conclusion, Abhay feels that all of these distinctions between straight people and the LGBTQ community is wound up in one big scam, he believes that,“At the end of the day, you and I fall in love with people, their hearts, their quirks, not with their gender or their body.”