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'Why is asking a candidate about their position on gay rights unheard of?'

April 11, 2014 16:13 IST

The carpet under Indian society is filled with members of the LGBTQ community, stuffed away like if you leave us swept under long enough, we’ll go away. But here’s the thing. You can pretend we’re not there as much as you want, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re there and we’re getting louder, we’re getting angrier.'

We learn how to introduce ourselves when we’re in primary school. State your name, your age, a little detail about yourself -- where you’re from, what you’re studying, where you’re working, something along those lines.

I should begin by following those rules. I can tell you I’m 21, I can tell you I’m a university student in Delhi, but the thought of  uttering my name, that gives me the shivers.

Seems silly, I know. But only until I tell you I’m gay. Then you see why I’m keeping my identity a mystery. The resigned curve of your mouth stands testament to your tacit approval of my decision to retain anonymity.

Do you know what that reinforces? That I’m not recognised most of the time, and that when I am, it’s not in a positive way.

I know that, so I hide. You know that, so you let me stay hidden.

The carpet under Indian society is filled with members of the LGBTQ community, stuffed away like if you leave us swept under long enough, we’ll go away. But here’s the thing. You can pretend we’re not there as much as you want, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re there and we’re getting louder, we’re getting angrier.

We’re not going to keep it down much longer. We will break free from these arbitrary prejudices and constraints. We’re not going to stay hidden anymore. The question is, will you still pretend we’re not there? Or will you stand behind us?

We're voting today. Tens of thousands of people are casting their votes to decide who should be in charge, who will look after their interests best. The poor look for welfare schemes, the tribals look for education and empowerment, women look for safety -- and there’s someone out there for everyone.

But hi, I’m the LGBTQ Community and you forgot me. No, worse. You see me in the corner, struggling to keep myself afloat, but you have decided I’m not worth looking out for.

Do you have any idea how that feels? Being treated like a second-class citizen? I hope you never do, because it’s awful. Nobody is the ray of hope to offer me a way out of this closet. Nobody has even hinted at the possibility of providing me a safe place when I decide hiding is not for me anymore. Is that fair?

The rant of this member of the LGBTQ Community is against the world. Yes, I’m giving in to the cliché. I hate the world. I am angry, firstly at the political scenario of this country. How can you call yourself a democracy when you’re denying an entire community basic rights? How can you, a nation that has long been hailed a haven for people of all communities – Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus -- possibly be called diverse and welcoming when all you do is spread hate to this community?

It’s hypocritical. And it’s wrong. And one day, far into our future, we’ll look back at this, the way we look at the deplorable treatment of untouchables, and we’ll shudder at the cruelty, the ignorance, of mankind.

But more than the politicians, I am angry at society. You’re the ones who elect these fools. You’re the ones with the power. Most of you reading this have been educated, learnt of Gandhi and math and human rights. Why are you not speaking up? Why is this not the most important thing? Why is asking a candidate about their position on gay rights unheard of? The government is what you made it. So when I blame the government, I’m also blaming you.

I’m trapped. Society won’t accept me, so I’ve resigned myself to live a lie. I walk around in constant denial of who I am to avoid being persecuted -- and trust me, the harassment I face is real. It needs to stop. I need you to fight for me, create a situation where I feel safe and supported enough to fight for myself.

We’re in the midst of history, and I want you to be on the right side. I’m not voting because there isn’t a single candidate who represents my needs, my wants, my basic human rights. And that is something we all forgot to talk about. And what does that say about us? The situation is so bad that I, and a countless number of others in the same position, are planning to escape the nation. Yes, escape it.

Is that really the kind of nation you want to live in? The kind people want to escape?

Ignorance is not bliss. This year, read, learn and talk -- let homosexuality be one of the most talked about subjects. Once we're talking about it, misconceptions will be lifted. Help us.

As told to Saba Sodhi in New Delhi. The interviewee requested anonymity, and the interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

The graphic art used above is by the interviewee. It is titled Dualist.

This coverage is part of Project India, a journalism initiative organised by Bournemouth University, the UK, and supported by Rediff.com.