Family pressure on us disgusting: Indian gays

May 24th, 2009 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS  

By Shilpa Raina
New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Homosexuality is a criminal offence in India, but many gays believe that a change in the law will do no good to them unless society starts accepting them and stops putting pressurise on them to conform.

According to Ranjan, 43, who works with an NGO in the capital, family pressure in India is “disgusting”.

“Family pressure in India is disgusting. As a gay, I am not supposed to disrespect my family reputation even though I am feeling miserable from inside,” Ranjan said.

“The law can’t make any difference till we help ourselves and get support from society and our family. There is a lot of discrimination against us and no law can change that attitude of people towards us. The need of the hour is to garner support from society to live a normal life like other human beings do,” said Ranjan.”

There is no official data on the country’s gay population, according to UNAIDS officials. The Indian Penal Code holds homosexual acts as an offence, with Section 377 providing punishment up to life imprisonment for indulging in them.

For 44-year-old prince Manavendra Singh Gohil from Rajpipla in Gujarat, it wasn’t easy to disclose the fact that he was gay, but after a failed marriage that lasted 15 months, he decided that succumbing to peer pressure would do no good to his own life.

“Initially, I didn’t have the courage to be open about my identity but as I came out of a failed marriage, I decided not to take it any more. After this, my mother had almost disowned me for some time. But slowly everyone around me accepted me,” Gohil explained.

“What I realised was that by getting married I was not only failing myself but also my wife and my family. Being a gay is no threat to our values and tradition. Most of us shy away from accepting our selves because of the dilemma of social acceptance,” he added.

History lecturer and gay activist Rajarshi Chakrabarty told IANS on phone from Murshidabad in West Bengal: “There is so much struggle and stigma associated with homosexuality that it becomes difficult for a gay to survive.”

“According to society, you should get married at a certain age, whatever your sexual orientation is because that is a rule you have to follow to gain acceptance in society. Unfortunately, this leads to pressure on homosexuals which in turn leads to fights and confusion within.”

These people will pour their hearts out on the television show, “Zindagi Live”, to be aired on IBN 7 Sunday at 8 p.m.

Sunil Menon, 43, an anthropologist and founder of Sahodaran that deals with male sexual health projects, says one should never feel guilty about being gay.

“The guilt cycle starts from childhood when he is confused about his feelings and does not get the opportunity to explore who he is and come to terms with it,” Menon explained.

“People take medicines and run after psychiatrists to change this nature but you can’t do anything about it because you are born with it. It is part of a person’s personality and he should accept it rather than focussing on changing it,” he added.

Menon also believes that importance should be given to sex education in schools and colleges to raise awareness about the issue, especially among people from a low strata of society so that they don’t feel lost and save themselves from verbal and emotional abuse.

Said Ranjan: “It’s not just society, the problem also lies with us because we are scared and have fear within us.

“It took me 30 years to accept myself as I am, so how could I expect my family to understand me and my emotions overnight? It is a long and difficult process.”

Today Ranjan is happily living with his partner and their parents come to visit them.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

-Indo-Asian News Service

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