“Who are you lying to? You can lie to the entire world, but not to me!”. Deep inside Surya knew it was true, but he didn’t agree to his best friend.
Born to a joint, religious and conservative family, it was very difficult for Surya to understand, let alone express how he felt towards the outside world. Somehow, he knew he was different, but in his childhood, he never really understood why and how. The teenage years were most difficult for him. While all his friends ogled at girls, he never really felt the connect. He was not attracted to anyone… Or was he just suppressing his desires? He was ridiculed often by his friends and seniors. People called him names. He got pushed, beaten up for no apparent reason. He tolerated all of it because there was no one to talk to, not even his best friend or family. But it was not the humiliation which bothered him, it was more of the question of “why”, which ate into his self-confidence like a drop of acid on a plastic plate. College was still better, but nevertheless, the inquisitive mind always looked for answers which alas, always eluded him. Help was a far cry, as he couldn’t confide in anyone, as he was scared!! Amidst all the chaos, he just barely survived!
Then, began the second phase of his life when he started working for a reputed MNC, where he was delighted to know that there were many like him. It was such a sigh of relief, like a glass of fresh water in the middle of an ocean , to understand and finally believe that he wasn’t “anomalous”. Nothing was actually “wrong” with him. It was great to be able to talk to, share, discuss with people of his “kind”. He learned, thanks to his colleagues that there was an entire community of people out there, who, just like him, was oppressed, but could still find out ways to lead a “normal” life. But hey, what’s the definition of “normal” really? Well, in India, section 377 defined it articulately.
This law was one of the reasons why there were so many people who were closeted about the feelings, in addition to the social taboos and stigmas surrounding homosexuality. On top of it, people often confused a gay/lesbian with a transgender. Thanks to illiteracy, the concept of LGBTQ was brushed under the carpet with great gusto. Homosexuals were apparently cursed or diseased and needed treatment! The law, unfortunately helped propagate a definite sense of power to the oppressor and sucked the breath of life from the oppressed. People were randomly abused, jailed, their human rights violated, blackmailed, all in the name of law!
On the 6th of September 2018, something miraculous happened in India! The colonial, archaic law (sec 377) which restricted and defined what’s “natural and unnatural” was struck down by the highest court of the land. Amidst the euphoria, Surya understood that though, the belief (that homosexuality is a western lifestyle/evil choice), misunderstanding, faith etc. of most people cannot be changed overnight, at least now, a human being cannot be prosecuted in the court of law for being loved by someone whom he/she loves. His faith in the judicial system was restored and he breathed calmly, because now, no one can blackmail him, extract money from him or mentally and physically abuse him in the name of law.
He was immensely thankful not only to the court but also to his supportive colleagues for re-instating and redefining the meaning of “faith”. But the journey has just begun. This was just the first battle which was won. There’s a long way ahead. But he wasn’t afraid. With the law by his side, Surya didn’t want to disrupt, change reconfigure the belief system, but try to reason with the masses who are still unmoved!
“You are right, I can’t lie to you. Well, I don’t need to lie to you anymore, isn’t it?” Surya smiled and told his reflection in the mirror.
P.S: The story has been formulated by the author after collecting inputs from multiple people directly affected by the decriminalization of Sec 377.