There are parallels between the homeland and the motherland. The amount of blood spilled in the former might be figurative compared to the latter, but we are looking at cultures of violence, steeped in fear of the unknown, in both places — and across the globe.
It is easy to dismiss the post-Section 377 Indian world if you have no ties to the motherland. It’s also easy for me to proclaim with the undeserved verve of an insufferable martyr that I have no intention of traveling back until their lawmakers repeal the legislation. True as that may be, it does nothing to mitigate the violence; it feels good to make such a proclamation, but it is an empty victory.
It is a selfish proclamation.
It brings to mind interactions I’ve had in the past with gay men who might lament queer human rights abuses in other countries — not because of how it must be damaging people in those parts of the world, but because it means they can’t visit that part of the world on their next holiday. It flings open the door for bolder proclamations like U.S. military intervention in those parts of world are, therefore, justified. It rattles the nerves.
It is a selfish proclamation, sure, but it is one I make because I don’t know what else to do, really. It is the only way I can give voice to the frustration I feel knowing that the world’s largest democracy has legalized hate in such a broad stroke.
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If you step back and look at the bigger picture it becomes clear. Section 377 is what happens when you atomize this epidemic. A bill in Arizona allowing organizations to deny service to customers on “faith-based grounds”, anti-gay legislation in Uganda, lobbyists who want to ban queer people from the NFL, the Chinese government’s attempts to define who is and is not transgender. Even in Michigan, on the eve of the trial of the same-sex marriage ban, Governor Snyder asked a federal judge to uphold ban on benefits for same-sex couples.
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Violence includes the lengths to which people will go to in order to prevent queer men and women from being able to coexist peacefully alongside them.It isn’t necessarily punches and kicks; violence is the greedy impulse to rob someone else of agency and the desire to cause them harm — physical or psychological. The shape of violence is ever-changing — what might be rape in parts of India is the inability for same-sex couples to take care of one another in Michigan and other states across the U.S. Violence includes the horrifying lengths to which civilians, politicians, and religious figures will go to in order to prevent queer men and women from being able to coexist peacefully alongside them.
It is a heartbreaking truth that violence against queer men and women will exist for years to come. However, it is something humanity can push to the outermost fringes of society, so that LGBTQ individuals everywhere can opt into living peacefully.
There is a gradual worldwide shift taking place where the status quo is reorienting itself around championing love and equality for people of all kind. There will always be aggressively heterosexist pockets of society clinging to antiquated ideas of marriage — but they will fall away.
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There is a not-too-distant future where I see myself sitting with a criminally handsome husband — I already have a few candidates lined up, let’s be honest! — and we’re sitting out in the terrace, complaining about the chokehold that smog has over the Kolkata skyline over cups of chai, complaining about how we couldn’t possibly bite into another samosa.
It doesn’t matter if we’ve made a home out there, or if we’re simply visiting. It won’t make a difference where we are because because by that point, we will not need to concern ourselves with abstractions like “the right side of history.”
Gone will be the martyrs and the violence and all that will be left is a civilization that doesn’t seek to punish people for who they love.