As hope floats for LGBT rights, it is not just the law that needs to change

While describing physical relationships between two individuals, we use many expressions to describe the “act”. The clinical term is of course sexual intercourse. As an impersonal biological need, we call it “sex”, but to describe the intensely passionate experience that it is, the phrase used is “making love”.

Every time we use these phrases, we picture in our mind’s eye we a man and a woman playing their pre-scripted, definite sexual roles to erotic effect. We are verbal in our descriptions of the experience – clinical, physiological, not to forget commercial, everything except creative. In fact, we are most un-creative in what we seek to conjure; only contexts and liberties vary.

We are incapable of removing our limited and limiting selves from the bonds of what we believe are our respective parts in the unfolding phenomenon. We see ourselves as the divine cast of a primordial play, the successors of Adam and Eve, Purusha and Prakriti, primeval and pure.

I have so far used “we” without batting an eyelid. In fact, the thought never occurred to me that “we” is discriminative. Not for a minute do “we”, so-called straight people, imagine other sexual possibilities as being natural. While the Supreme Court of this nation has opened the possibility for the decriminalisation of sex among the LGBT community, it is time we look within, question ourselves and de-stigmatise people of various sexual physicalities and orientations. The change in the law is a fundamental right but a change in the minds of the majority is a fundamental need.

Our delusions

Are we heterosexual men and women really the “pure”? This is a lie, a mirage that we have created as a control mechanism to enforce a sexual regime in society. Honestly speaking, we are all, in various degrees, both man and woman, and no weighing scale can quantify the tilt.

Every one of us lives with thoughts and feelings that crisscross sexual identities, from attractions to people of our own sex, to fantasies of what we may call wild behaviour. In what is a complex negotiation between our emotional-sexual urges and our social conditionality, we strike a balance that pushes certain wants into the deepest reaches of our minds while others explode in an orgasmic effervescence.

Ardhanarishwara/Maadhorubhaagan is symbolic not just of the queer community, he-she represents humanity – we are all Ardha. This celebration of the beauty of who we are has to be on the basis of sexual realities. Nothing in life is straight. Creativity is a nuance, an in-between state that sways to multi-directional winds and the human being is no different. Our each slant allows for another shade of colour. We are all gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender.

The dislike, bordering on disgust exhibited towards the LGBT community is only an extension of the misogyny that drives societies. Having emotionally and physically subjugated women for eons, the “others” among us who are closer to “her” are instinctively rejected. And when “she” wants to be one of us, she is an aberration, one that destroys our image of the woman.

Defining normal

Gays are seen as inadequate men and weak, like women. Lesbians are in our minds nothing more than a threesome sexual fantasy. Transgenders who want to be women are a taunt to manhood and if they become men, then they are grotesque caricatures of machismo.

Men can be ugly as hell but they will regard transpersons as being, by definition, a distortion. They will turn their faces away from a heterosexual woman who is muscular as being man-like. The woman primarily has to be eye candy for straight male consumption. Reading these lines must make stomachs churn, not because we are numerically large and “proper”, but because we are brutishly vulgar.

The numerical strength of any one group cannot define the idea of what is an acceptable or normal condition. The dominant cannot and should not dictate homogeneity. The normal is the diverse, the spectacularly different body languages, features, smiles and embraces.

Time for reform

To begin with, we must remove this duality in perception – them and us and acknowledge that this also comes from religious baggage. The hate-ridden narratives that all religion and their caretakers have convinced us as being the truths have to be questioned.

The argument that “they” and “their” tendencies are against the order of nature is violent. And unless the believers force the powers at the helm, this story will not change. I will go even further and say that as a ritual, we need to re-discover the splendour of marriage. Its sanctity lies in the promise of love, faith, surrender and pleasure, and not in the sex or sexual orientation of the individuals. Every religion must erase from its marriage rituals the pleas for healthy progeny. Even the gods, be it Jesus, Allah or Rama need to be seen with newer sexual mindsets.

We need modern religio-social storytellers. Not those who find one little incident in a religious text and use that as approval for diverse sexual orientation. That goes nowhere, because there will always be the mythology hunter who will find another story that rejects this interpretation. What was said in the past must remain there. We need to say new things, experience people afresh. We need religions to come to life today, from today.

The idea of equals

But why this obsession with sexuality as being the primary mechanism of creating identity? This is the fundamental flaw in our living. It is the body that restricts our ability to share, cramping our mind. We have to see man, woman, heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender as minds and hearts, as emotional and intellectual beings, as creative spirits. We need to hear their music, absorb their dances, and listen to their words. Their body is only an expression of who they are and the beauty lies in the way the body crystallises the subtle and the brash. In this realization, all of a sudden shape, size, touch, movement and sexuality at once become stunning and normal.

The LGBT community is not “out there” in battle-array to disrupt our perfect world; they are as perfect and let me add, as imperfect as anyone else. We are the ones who have separated, exploited and treated them with less dignity that one can ever imagine. And it is time this stops. This is certainly not going to be easy since we are still uncomfortable with the idea that we are all equal. And it is not just discomfort, we feel threatened, there is palpable fear.

For thousands of years we were the standard, but now we are being told that there is no real gold sexual standard. This shift in the sexual self-perception is not going to be easy. So let us accept the discomfort and fear, but enable its disappearance by consciously acknowledging of how unreasonbly we have treated one of our own. Laws have to change but more than those incomprehensible words written on a rigid document, we have to transform and transcend.

Originally written for Scroll.in