Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Vision for India

A piece originally written for a magazine article that might never ever get published... Decided to publish it here...

The India we live in, is an India I love; ever changing and chaotic – a quality that’s often inevitable and necessary. Being a 22 year old gay man who has been associated with the media for the last five years – I now realise, know fully well and believe that India, as a democracy, has hope. I, like many others in my age group, grew up in a country filled with hypocrisy, double standards, failing government machinery, under-representation and stark ethnic biases. The country was defined by its several paradoxes, almost like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that would never fit in and yet we thrived and grew into thinking individuals. Representing varied ethnicities from, quite literally, corners of the country; I grew up in a family that imbibed, what I would like to call, ‘true Indian-ness’. We belonged to several cultures, had diverse religious backgrounds and evolved into the Indian who lived in peace and co-existence. We were, to put it simply, the post-independent-unified-India’s perfect Indian family. Language was never our barrier; because we chose a language that was ours and yet not ours – English, that belonged to everyone. The country, for as long as I remember, had violent and vehement identity politics at the very base of its functioning. Be it the less publicised ostracising of North-easterner’s, or the more vocal, obvious and often colour-based South-North divide. Communities that refused to fall under the well-camouflaged, yet widely implemented homogenising processes, had to bear the brunt and still do, by being considered enemies of the majority. Be it the Dravidian movement of the South or the Secessionist movements in the North-east and Kashmir, the only linking character has been the resentment of a culture imposed. The same can be said of the gay community, who even after a legal verdict in their favour, are still being judged, persecuted and pushed to the fringes of society, all in the name of majority politics. Will minorities ever have a right to exist equally? When did the majorities start to matter and why? Or rather, when did this anonymous majority, which does not really have one singular representational face, start feeling claustrophobic by every extra right given to the minorities? Why is there a need to impose a uniform culture in a country that prides itself in its diversity and for that matter why do we have one official Language of India? These questions will never be answered; the answers might just prove how un-democratic we’ve come to be. The future of India is in equality. Till, we as educated citizens of a well-rooted democracy, fight for every right that has been held back, things might never change. I envision India to be the democracy that will show the way to the world. We do have our loopholes in all our systems, but as long as we are motivated to demand what we deserve, the future seems worth-it. The struggle has just begun; we are fighting for a new kind of Independence; an Independence from our devolved selves.
We need to realise that we define India, India doesn’t define us.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Being Gay in Christ.

This is a piece I had written for DNA Mumbai and was published soon after the prides in three cities across the country.

I do not speak as an authority on Christianity’ but as a Christian who defines his life through his faith in Christ. The religion to me is a way of life and my choices, ethics and beliefs are built around the very core of Christ’s teachings. Christianity as I have understood it is a religion that teaches you that love is indeed supreme. As long as two people are convinced that they are in love and are not negatively affecting or influencing anyone else’s existence by being in love, they ought to be allowed to continue to exist in such a relationship. The faith has always called for acceptance and tolerance, always preferring the former. The church, catholic or otherwise, has been against homosexual relationships because as a structured organisation it has believed in their ‘deviance’. The religion as it has evolved looks at the institution of marriage with a rather one-minded approach, that of procreation and since most such supposedly ‘unnatural’ alliances cannot create life, they are deemed useless and even furthered to be sinful. Several interpretative readings of certain passages in the Bible are often used as the basis of this biased reasoning. My only question is, when did our churches forget, that Christ himself accepted. Churches will agree that Christianity is defined as a religion of fellowship, but they seem to forget that often more than not, it is more importantly defined as a religion of personal faith. I believe I am at peace with my personal faith and my sexuality and hence if the people I fellowship with or the church that I worship at have an issue with my sexuality, I will not think twice to disassociate myself with either. The choice at the end of the day is in accepting as Christ would have accepted, or in creating rules based on general biases that keep the ‘different’ out of the church. The church of today will have to consider the future of the religion, the teachings of Christ and then make this important choice.