Tuesday, April 10, 2012

‘We’, the ‘normal’ people and ‘They’


Disclaimer: Some parts of this entry might be unsuitable for people under the age of 18. Please approach with caution.

A few days back a friend of mine was at a coffee house in the evening and a man approached him. He introduced himself as the son of a famous theatre artist and was interested in casting my friend for a role in his upcoming play. My friend, who wants to go in for acting was overwhelmed at the prospect but suspected iniquity. Why would the ‘son of a famous theatre artist’ approach a stranger at a random coffee house for the role in his play? As it turned out, the man’s intentions were different and unacceptable. My friend made a good decision and left the place after giving him a wrong contact number so that he could contact him for the ‘play’!

I personally had a similar experience some days back. I was on my way home from Connaught Place after a fun evening with friends. I had taken a red bus from KG Marg in front of the Hindustan Times building. The bus wasn’t crowded considering it was past 9 PM now but there were no seats vacant. So I took my usual place near the window at the emergency door and stood there. I usually listen to music on my phone on these bus journeys but today I had forgotten my ear phones and so I stood there just looking out of the window. There was this man who had got on the bus at the same stop. I thought I should start a conversation with him on any random topic. I am a mass communication student and I do not have the guts to even talk to a stranger. I shall make a wonderful journalist, I thought. In fact it was the man who initiated a conversation then with a simple ‘What’s the time?’ He then asked me if I was a student. I said yes. He asked where I was studying. I answered and then his response was not totally unexpected. He said he was working with HT and if need be, he could help me get a job there sometime. I tried appearing not very interested. He gave me his number and said I could contact him if I needed an internship or for that matter, get into HT anyhow. On his insistence and not to sound rude, I gave him my number as well. At least this would bring an end to the conversation! But no, there was more to come. He asked me what I was doing on the weekend and if we (Yes, he and I!!) could take a stroll in Central Park. Lo and behold! I understood the situation in an instant. Hats off to my stupidity! This guy was interested in more things than just getting me into HT! Thankfully my stop arrived then and I got off the bus while I erased this new contact number from my phonebook and added it to the blacklist! Whoa! Close encounter this was!

A quick Google search reveals names of bollywood films (and to my surprise, a recent TV soap) which have portrayed any gay character over the years.

A shot from Dostana (2008). Source: Google
What Dostana did was it brought the hush-hush topics to be discussed openly at least amongst teenagers. Then there are films like Fashion, My Brother… Nikhil and I Am which have openly acknowledged the presence of gay members in the society and the troubles they face. And also there is the recent film Dunno Y…Na jaane Kyun which faced the axe of the censor board and its release has been banned in the country.

Over the years we have seen this kind of portrayal of men a lot in Indian cinema and television (Remember, Maddy, the fashion designer at Gulmohar in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin?) Mostly the portrayal of these men has been done in fun and to-add-humour to the storyline. Although no where it has been done to offend any community, the portrayal of ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ men in this light has not been very fair to their community, or at least that’s what I feel.

What keeps me wondering is- are these people actually so desperate to have a physical relation? Or is it just the society which has over the years portrayed them in such a way and ultimately, they have begun to accept things this way only. These are probably the people who have the guts to come out in open about their sexuality in the society. And then there is another set of the same people who are unwilling to be open about themselves fearing the criticism they would receive from the society even if they have no ulterior motives. This is what I feel ought to be changed- the perception we, the ‘normal’ people have regarding these ‘not-so-normal’ people. (That’s what we think they are, isn’t it?)

After a lot of resistance, now finally I have been watching all the seasons of the American sit-com ‘Friends’. I have only been able to reach through the midway of season 3 right now. Episodes dating back to 1994 and 1995 have explicitly talked about the gay themes many times and at all times (whether it be Chandler being described as someone who ‘looks’ gay or Carol’s relation with Susanne) the context has been something funny which in a way or other shows the thinking that we have about this particular community of the society. Why I am talking about Friends right now is that it is not only in our country where the wrong portrayal is done, it is in fact, a universally accepted phenomenon!

Last night I was having a conversation with a college friend of mine who has recently worked on a documentary about the LGBT community in India. She told me regarding her conversations with real gay and transgender people in Kolkata. ‘It is just respect and acceptance that they expect’, she told me. ‘They were nice people to be around. I, as a girl, didn’t feel insecure at all when I was with those guys.’ When I told her about the angle I wanted to put in for this entry, she clarified more stuff, ‘To generalise the fact that gay people are desperate for a physical relation would be wrong. Yeah, there are some like that, but I guess, even the normal ‘heterosexuals’ have these kinds of people. Why else would we be having so many cases of rape every other day? It is just that what a man does to a woman is considered within social boundaries, but what a man does to another man, is not.’ Well, if we think about the ‘rape’ point, I don’t think we have ever heard news saying a man raped another man, have we?

The ‘not-so-normal’ people are after all just normal men and women who have a different sexual preference and can do nothing about it. Nobody accepts them to be ‘normal’, and eventually they have to bend into the society’s so-called ‘rules’, hiding their true identity just to face acceptance by friends and family. Probably even they can fall in love like we do, have fun in life the way we expect to have, and lead a life as normal as we do. (Btw, did you notice that while reading this last sentence, you understood the term ‘we’ to be all people minus the LGBT community? If yes, then I think that’s the biggest live proof we have saying that there is indeed a discrimination that we make against them. Isn’t it?)

(I don’t know why I am feeling right now that this blog entry has become more of ‘preachy’ kind and not the usual fun stuff I write and hence, it is losing its value, is it?)

Before I end this entry and you keep wondering why I have written all this stuff supporting the gay community when I have myself faced a situation which was unwelcome, let me tell you: I have a good friend who is gay and has been open about it for some time now. Although I haven’t talked to him in months, I have been aware of the problems he has faced as part of living in a hostel and people accidentally finding out about his sexuality. With this and the recent incidents in mind, I thought giving this topic a shot might actually work out for the present situation.

It is 7.20 PM of the 10th of April already and for the third time in a row the last few hours are left when I am writing a blog entry for a contest. With over many hours spent on this entry, I think it’s time for me to conclude now. This entry has been written for the Stayfree- Timefor Change contest on IndiBlogger.

If it was the disclaimer which made sure you read this entry till the end, then I would exclaim- Yes! Mission successfully accomplished! :D

P.S.: No person living or dead, from any community, is intended to be hurt by whatever I have said. This is just a personal viewpoint that I wanted to present. And I would love to hear from you what you feel regarding this, without generating a controversial debate.

22 comments :

  1. great work antarik...
    well done
    -strange guy in the coffee house
    :p

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    Replies
    1. Yea..thanks :)
      Umm...'strange guy in the coffee house'. You mean my friend or the one who approached my friend :P

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  2. Great post about a very important issue...

    There's one point that I would like to point out (rather add to your post) that you have faced an "unwelcome situation" and the other person involved just happened to be GAY. WE (as in mostly women but also a few men) have all faced such "situations" in our lives -- and guess what? The other person involved are mostly 'the other sex' and straight! So, I guess that it just makes that man on the bus 'as normal' as anybody else - just that they approach people of the same sex while others approach the opposite ones!

    I feel that a person's sexual orientation is same as their other choices in life - like music or books! Its their life and their choice. Let them be or judge me for loving "Jazz Music" & "Mystery Novels"!!

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  3. wow...a very nice entry about the topic that has been intriguing me for so long...also, i think you have achieved exactly what you said you were aiming to put across through this entry..very well written :)

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    1. Thanks Tanvi. With ur approval, i guess i can believe that objective is attained :)

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  4. Finally someone speaks what I felt about this topic since the day i came to know what these "they" ppl are.even if not all of it...most of it.nice attempt buddy! the ppl need to change their mentality..after all it's said all are free to choose the person they admire.Media plays a great role in creating the funny/abnormal impression of gays/lesbians. for me they are not different from any of us.it's just the cheap mentality of people to not to accept change. the reason of me not speaking about all this before is that no one around me is ready to understand what they feel; infact its all the same feeling...love/admiration/heartbreak/acceptance/rejection etc. It's all the same. Time for a change!

    PS-Do not try to figure out who I am if you have not till now ;-)

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    1. Well, I dont think I am going to figure that out any time soon, so I guess I would just say thank you for you coming by this post and presenting your views :)

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  5. That's called real writing dude. When young people r aware of the recent changes of society and have a say in it, i think it all leads to the well being of our society. Empathy is the feeling we should all have in our hearts n not be judgmental. Keep posting.

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  6. Nice post...but time will change everything...we have to move with time...there is a saying in Sanskrit "Kaalaaya Tasmaei Namaha" .

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    1. We can just hope for the best and that the best comes soon! :)

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  7. U have some way with words...nicely done...liked it a lot

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  8. I think people - especially youth, realise that gays are multi-dimensional like any other human and it is wrong to get stuck on only the one dimension when you meet them. Imagine, if everytime someone met you they thought oh, he likes sex with women. It would probably creep you out to be thought of like that.

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  9. Nicely written.
    Well done yaar..all the best.
    Also Check out mine.a similar issue,Give your comment on it.
    Are Hijra's(TransGender) not a Human being.?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sammy :)
      Saw your entry. THought provoking it is. Good job.

      Delete
  10. Could totally relate to every word you wrote. Smiled throughout. Your gay friend would be glad to see you supporting. Not being sarcastic. Guess who I am.

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    Replies
    1. I hope some day I am able to guess all these 'Anonymous' people. No hopes with guessing who you are as of now.

      Delete
  11. Nice post about a sensitive subject in our society. Personally, I would have loved it more if you had relied less on pronouns such as 'we' and 'they' That goes contrary to the mission that your post was trying to achieve.

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