My speech at an elocution competition here. I did not win any prize but I knew I created ripples. That's all I cared for.
Vikrant and I studied in school together. He was a bright student, an amazing swimmer, got along well with people of all ages, and was very loyal to his friends. All of us wanted to be him. He was a role model.
One fine day, he came up to me and told me he was gay.
I was shocked! More so because he was too happy to notice my reaction.
He said the 377 repeal gave him the strength to come out to me.
And I remembered - 3 7 7!!
After 420 and 302 we have another number that has found mention among the general people. I had read the headline a few days ago - '377 repealed by the Delhi high court'. I knew 377 had to do something with gays and lesbians. I heard the repeal made them legal, but I did not know too much about it. I would not have bothered to find out more - had it not been for my friend.
377 was a law drafted in 1860 by the British that criminalized any sexual act which was against nature - in those days it meant an act that would not result in reproduction. This means that it was as applicable to unnatural intercourse between heterosexual couples too. While the British themselves scrapped 377 in their country a few decades ago, the law stayed on the books in India. The High court ruling regarding 377 explicitly stated that this law was against the very spirit of the constitution, and though the law still applied to any non consensual acts (read rape, sodomy, paedophilia, and bestiality), it said that the law need not look into bedrooms of adults and the acts done therein by mutual consent.
But then you'd ask me, isn't it unnatural? I mean a man and woman are together, they support each other and they take the family forward. I asked this to Vikrant too. He told me something that I'll never forget.
He reminded me about a couple we know who due to medical reasons were not able to bear a child. He asked me if I would call their marriage and physical closeness 'unnatural' just because it does not lead to reproduction.
That hit the point home - the basis of physical proximity and togetherness is not the ability to have babies but the attachment of love. And if two individuals feel that love naturally, it cannot be called 'unnatural' .
In fact, homosexuality is not considered a psychological disorder anymore and is recognized by the UNO, WHO, American Psychiatric Association and the like as natural behaviour.
Vikrant gave me references of homosexuality in Indian culture, the artworks of Khajuraho, a comprehensive mention of homosexuality in Kama Sutra and other scriptures. He told me about Indian families which have accepted their gay and lesbian children today. He told me about gay/lesbian couples living together in Mumbai for more than ten years.
I was like.. whoa! Never knew! But you know what, today, I am more compassionate towards them. At one point of time, Indian society did not accept inter-caste marriages, education for women, or widow re-marriages. Today, to a great extent it does. Similarly, our society today will make way for accepting homosexuality too.
377 is just the beginning and just as widow re-marriages must have faced back then, it is going to face public wrath.
Should I be angry at Vikrant too? Should I shut him out?
Vikrant lives among us.
Vikrant is like us.
He is a friend to me, a brother to someone, a son to someone else.
Vikrant has a family, a career, dreams.
And Vikrant loves.
Just the gender that Vikrant loves and wants to spend his life with is different.
Should I hate my friend just because he loves?!
I have decided to accept my friend the way he is.
Would you do the same if someone you love told you he/she was gay/lesbian?