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Ipsita Shome Headshot

Liberty, Equality and Love?

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While it's sunshine somewhere, a large part of the other world -- my world -- is shrouded in an uninterrupted colonisation of eclipse. Where arguably one of the oldest civilizations of the globe blossomed its way through history to dominate world lifestyle, a large part of them forgot to humanize and educate their own flag bearers.

***

Yesterday, on the 26th of June 2013, the modern, liberal, rational emissary in me logged in to Facebook to find the ever-delayed, yet most elating piece of news in a very long time. The Supreme Court strikes down DOMA on historic day for gay rights in America, it said. Overjoyed, I decided to call my good friend of seven years, who happens to be gay and currently in a relationship, to share my happiness with him. He, naturally, holds the ruling on a more personal level than my other friends (who are unflappably straight), and knew about it "as soon as it was out of the courtroom."

"It is a remarkable day for us, you know? There's still hope in fragments of the sphere, and a(nother) place for us to elope," he joked timidly. After a couple of more light-hearted comments, he brusquely fell silent and it was one of those uneasy, pumpkin in the throat ones. I too could not get myself to speak, for I knew the subject of his stifle. We had discussed the said issue over and over again and it saddened me every time to drop in at the same wretched conclusion.

My country, lamentably, does not understand the concept of homosexuality -- at all. Of all the adjectives in the world I can use, it regrettably is frightened out of its wits at the phenomenon that is ever so natural, evolutionary and fundamental.

***

When I was 14, I remember going to school one day and not finding my friend in the seat next to me (it was her permanent seat). It was rather normal for any student to take a leave of absence for a day or two -- and thus there wasn't any initial curiosity from our side. She must be under the weather, we assumed, or feeling lazy enough not to hear the alarm clock on cozy August mornings -- nothing out of the ordinary. But days and weeks passed in rapid succession and she was never to be seen or heard from again. There were several eclectic rumors flying around, none of which made any sense. So we decided to wait until something confirmed and official came our way -- and it did. The principal summoned us to the auditorium and spoke quite articulately of the "evils" my friend had exercised, which subsequently got her thrown out of school, she noted pretty assertively. The evils were, namely: hand holding (with other girls -- I was in an all-girls Christian missionary), having short hair like that of a boy, hugging (other girls, again) and seemingly other deplorable downtrodden-ness that got the principal's missionary brain indisposed at the thought of them.

We left the auditorium without a word. No one protested, or ever spoke of her again.

Days later I came to know that she was admitted into a co-ed school (where she would miraculously develop temptations for boys whose recent acquisition of alpha hormones would floor her into sprouting instantaneous infatuations), her jeans were donated to an orphanage (only sinful lesbians and men wear them, apparently), she had a new wardrobe of dainty garments, and she was instructed to grow her hair long to make way for her femininity.

I felt sorry for her, I did. But I felt sorrier for her mother who took the school's word to heart and dedicated her time and sweat to "sanitize" her daughter from the squalor of homosexuality. Soon other mothers followed (not mine, mercifully) and my classmates were forced to answer a plethora of vilifying questions about their sexuality. They all rose victorious aka un-homosexual (mainly out of heterosexual vanity, fear, or terror), and it was boisterously discussed as a matter of pride when the parents got together. It was disgusting, infinitely, and some us sane ones decided not to be a part of it. We stayed away from recess gossips groups, fussy teachers, and vile parents.In an organisational attempt at taking away our personal choices (homosexuality or otherwise), disengagement was our mode of protest. And it worked, I'd like to think, for we were not bothered again.

***

There are TV shows in the U.S. like Modern Family that quite maturely and subtly deal with the concept of equality of love and preference. It goes deep into the hearts of average American viewers and teaches the art of acceptance, irrespective of social congruence. It is fairly admirable -- what they are doing, and how they are doing it -- one small step at a time. And I, among many others who look up to the "charity begins at home" mode of civilisation, am a fan.

I know how tense the situation is in the part of the world I live in. I hear the surroundings are worse. But I'd like to think there's still hope -- still a glimmer of anticipation -- that one day my country will look above and see light. That one day it will not be a subject of family shame or the guilt of pornographic interest. That one day our TV networks will not confuse transgenders with gays (unbelievable, I know, but it's more rampant than you think). And that one day their lifestyle will not be a subject of mockery for the country's harbingers, insidiously influencing their younger ententes, to preserve the urn of unsophisticated primitiveness.