Our society has become more open towards homosexuality on the surface. But in the eyes of the people I meet, we seem to be nothing more than a stereotype.
A girl’s wearing short dresses and going to the club? Slut!
A gay guy? Of course, he’ll hit on all straight guys too.
Educated or not, most people operate based on stereotypes of what they presume the world to be.
Growing up was difficult for me. Be it at home or school, they would mock me at for not being ‘man’ enough. I always wondered, what does it take for a man to be a ‘man’? In our society, when a man is marked ‘not man enough’, he is automatically categorised as ‘gay’. Since I wasn’t ‘man enough’, the lovely people in my school and college did the same. Well, as it turns out, they were right, I am gay.
But often, that’s not the case with many men who are not ‘man enough’ by society’s standards. They are all however put into the same box of stereotypes. A guy who works in the fashion industry? Gay. A guy who wears tight clothes? Gay. A guy who wears a pink T-shirt? Our society is so pre-occupied with stereotypes that the sky will fall before an expressive fashion enthusiast in a tight pink T-shirt is accepted as heterosexual.
Once I went around my college campus, asking people, “What do you think about gay people?” I went up to a group of students in the college canteen, introduced myself, and popped the question. As soon as I asked a question, they started giggling, but I composed myself and waited for them to answer. A girl finally spoke, “Well, I don’t have any particular opinion about gay people, but I think they are effeminate. Well, that’s what I have seen. I think they are more like us girls, we like guys, and so do they.”
I wanted one of the guys from the group to answer and one did, “I don’t like the way they behave. I haven’t seen many, but from what I have seen, they are effeminate and they hit on straight people. There was a guy on the local train who was touching me here and there. I got him chucked out of the train. Most people who are publicly gay are into fashion or remotely related to fashion.”
The answers I received from these young, educated people amused me. The future of our country stuck with stereotypes of the past. And out of a group of 7, only 2 chose to answer, others just said that they aren’t comfortable answering ‘these kinds of questions’. I was left wondering, were these their genuine thoughts, or is this what they have surmised through the popular portrayal of homosexuality?
I wanted to see how people from the gay community felt about this. “Homosexual people are commented upon and are always in the throes of stereotypes. That they are perverts who will never get life partners and end up single. But I just don’t give any importance to what they say. I mind my own business and live my life the way I want.” says Alex Mathew, who is a social activist working with an NGO, and is also a drag artist. When asked about his drag persona, he said, “I created Mayamma to give hope to fellow brothers and sisters in the community, to live in this cruel world filled with hatred. I want to be the voice of many, whose voices are still unheard.”
India is a difficult country to be gay in. It’s instilled early on that a man should get married to a woman in order to have a child, and any other relationship apart from this is considered bad or unnatural. In a country where even talking about heterosexual sex is considered ‘taboo’, things can get immensely difficult for a homosexual person. Even if the society accepts their sexuality, it’s a struggle to establish their life while trying to overcome the labels and stereotypes that come with their sexuality.
Society likes to function the way it always has. Adapting to changes is a difficult task. Casual stereotyping makes this task easier, I guess. So it’s difficult to digest it when some people don’t fall into these careless categories and labels. Society needs to understand that it is okay for a homosexual or a heterosexual person to be whoever they want, wear whatever they like, and put on accessories the way they want.
As humans, we are only looking to match our inner personality with our physical being. There are many gay men who are far from popular stereotypes. They aren’t fashioned savvy, their favourite colour isn’t pink, they don’t wear tight T-shirts and they aren’t effeminate. These macho men in leather jackets break hearts because “Oh my god how could he be gay?”
Well, NEWS FLASH! He is.