The football fever has hit hard. Two announcements that hit me harder than the loss of Argentina was the sudden ban on alcohol sale and the discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals at the world cup arena. However, the ban on ‘OneLove’ anti-hate armbands at FIFA World Cup did not stop the rock sales of the armbands and how supportive the world reacted to it.
"Pride is for everyone." "We're here. We're queer." "Celebrate Trans Pride." "Not gonna hide my pride." "We're all born naked, and the rest is drag." "I fell out of the womb and landed in my mother's high heels."
I am sure you all would have read these slogans and quotes in your cities during Pride Month (celebrated in India in June). However, the last quote is my favourite! It touched me and many others.
In the last few years, many have shared how they or their friends were ready to come out about their sexual preferences and gender orientations. Though unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. A thought that disturbed me was: why we need permission to be what we are and who we want to be. It saddened me that gender and sexual discrimination did not allow so many of us to live our lives as we wanted.
In the same way, when you fall in love with someone or are attracted to someone, you are driven by instinct and your heart. It shouldn’t matter whether you love someone from the same sex or the opposite sex. So why be called queer for going against “norms”? Why be shamed for loving someone from the same sex? Love doesn’t change definitions whether you are a homosexual or a heterosexual. The feelings, emotions, and bodily reactions remain the same.
So, what is the meaning of queer? We all know queer is a word in the English dictionary to describe a person who is odd or different or did things differently. Interestingly, queer has been referred to as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer).
But how did the word enter the LGBTQ+ lexicon? In the 19th century, “queer” came to be referred to as people in same-sex relationships. Back then, homophobia was widespread, and violence against the homosexual community increased. As a result, a group of activists enraged by the brutality wanted to raise their voices in protest. So, a group of HIV/AIDS activists formed the “Queer Nation” organization in New York on March 20, 1990.
Nearly 60 people from the LGBTQ+ community gathered for the event. Their message to the world was to accept them as they were and instill a sense of Pride among the community members. Many movements like these came later and encouraged them to get themselves as they are and come out of the closet to accept their sexuality. Hence the term “Queer Pride” was born.
Queer Pride is accepting one’s sexual orientation openly and being proud of it. There is nothing incorrect with being different and having different sexual preferences. However, it doesn’t reflect on you as a person. This shouldn’t be a reason for discrimination. Each person has their personal choice and right to live their life as they want to. But ever since countries were born, boundaries were drawn, and they started drawing lines for citizens – how they must behave, dress in public, set rules and laws, and their gender and sexual preferences.
Sadly, even spiritual sects, political forces, cults, and self-proclaimed moral police did not remain far behind in crusading against the LGBTQ+ community to date. People for centuries have been trying hard to “treat” or rather “cure” homosexuality. This “abnormality” supposedly goes against their idea of sexuality. Yet, they are still discriminated against and denied access to fundamental human rights like food and shelter.
Even though it is hard, many opt to come out of the closet, face the world, and be who they indeed are. The world is more accepting now. Maybe a few… However, it takes time…more time to get a mindset change. Even more, time to gain acceptance. It is indeed a difficult road ahead in India. The number of Pride marches is increasing every year in most cities worldwide. There is better acceptance and more tolerance now in mainstream cities or metros. Smaller towns and cities in India are also beginning to organize seminars, conferences, and events for the public. It is crucial people are made aware of LGBTQ+ individuals and their struggles and gives space for them to share their life.
Of late, there are laws supporting LGBTQ+ Community. Gay and lesbian marriages have become legal in some parts of the world. Celebs are also coming out of their closet about their LGBTQ+ identities without worrying or fearing being judged. Recently, two former beauty pageant winners, Mariana Varela from Argentina and Fabiola Valentin from Puerto Rico, publicly announced their two-year-old relationship and marriage ceremony through social media. Their cute love story has left many more people to talk about their relationships openly. Public acceptance is slowly taking precedence in some countries, yet a long way to go.
India has a long journey to bring up a sensitive and tolerant generation. Recently, the most horrifying case was that of a schoolboy in a leading Delhi school who committed suicide. He could not take in the atrocities of his seniors bullying him over his sexuality. It is heartbreaking to see how much intolerance is seeded by families who pre-define sexual and gender identities. Unfortunately, many such cases go unreported or shoved under the carpet. The only way things can change is when schools and academic institutions take the initiative to organize workshops and seminars to sensitize children. It will ensure lesser crimes and encourage inclusivity among children, irrespective of their gender or sexual preferences.
Rainbow of Hope Expanding
Since the Supreme Court of India decriminalized consensual homosexual intercourse, it has proven to be a ray of hope for the LGBTQ+ community in India. Unfortunately, India is yet to legalize homosexual marriages, and there is still a long way to go for the complete acceptance of homosexuals. However, more stories about their identity and relationships emerge thanks to the ruling. Some have migrated abroad to LGBTQ+-friendly countries and got married there too.
Social media accounts like Official Humans of Queer, Queers of India, and many more handles are helping more and more people get comfortable with their sex and gender identities and accept themselves for what they are.
In an age where body shaming and toxic positivity are viral, these initiatives are a rainbow of hope for humans to walk with our heads held high on a road not taken at all. So, cheers to all of us who want to be what we are – pure, unfiltered!
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The top 10 countries ranked on the LGBTQ Global Acceptance Index (GAI) index developed by UCLA researchers in 2021 are in the following order – Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Great Britain, and New Zealand. In addition, Human Rights Watch, based in New York, has profiled 132 countries on its website. It gives information on human rights for the LGBTQ+ communities there. There are also maps accompanying these country profiles, showing countries that criminalize homosexuality and are ridden with gender-based crimes.
Most countries have different timelines for celebrating Pride Month. For example, India and the United States celebrate Pride Month every year in June. Others celebrate in February, August, and September. Pride Month is yet to be recognized internationally, hence the different timelines of celebrations too. India celebrates Pride Month every year in June.
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