Is our society inclusive?
An inclusive society means a society, which includes all cultures, communities, castes and religions. Unfortunately, even today, metro cities cannot be called inclusive societies as discrimination and inequality is still prevalent in urban areas. Sakal Times has tried to bring these stories in the city to the surface.
It’s 2018, but even today in urban areas, eyebrows are raised when people come to know that someone is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer - or popularly known as the LGBTQ community. For some, it is a disease, a psychological or physical disorder which needs to be cured; and for few, it is a fad. Bullying and derogatory slurs used in daily vocabulary against persons from the LGBTQ community have become another challenge for the community to deal with, other than accepting their identity. In due process, the community has faced isolation from the society.
Krishnan Balaji, a public relation officer (PR) and an activist had first realised his self-identity when he was in Std III. Due to discrimination and losing his dear friends during his school days because of his appearance, Balaji started lying about his identity. “I had made up a story that I have a girlfriend and was in long distance relationship because I wanted to prove that I am as straight and normal as others,” said Balaji. However, Balaji had congested himself in his lie and decided to embrace to what he is, ‘gay’.
Sharing an experience of encountering homophobia, Balaji expressed that his first break down was when he met a childhood friend after long years while pursuing graduation in Manipal, Karnataka.
“He seemed to be uncomfortable meeting me. Later the same evening I received a message from him informing that being homosexual is treated as sin in his religion and that he does not want to share friendship because of my identity,” said Balaji.
This was the beginning to his journey of self-identity. Recalling another incident he said, “When I shifted to Delhi, I stayed as a paying guest with an unknown roommate. After three days he asked whether I am gay, I said yes. Next day immediately he went to the flat owner to tell, he cannot share a flat with a gay roommate and after a few days, he left. For the time he was there, he had separated our cots as well and never spoke to me.”
Almost 85 per cent of LGBTQ community experiences homophobic and transphobic violence. Due to which there are significant dropout rates of these people from education and work. It has been reported that they seldom keep their identity as secret because of the reactions from people. This leads to stress, depression and psychiatric disorders. While for the former generation it is ‘not normal’, a similar perception is observed in younger generation as well.
A software engineer in her early 30s working with a reputed IT company in Pune, born and brought up in Mumbai, feels those who say they are ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’, are actually influenced by the popular culture as they see it on TV or in movies. “They (homosexuals) just get carried away. I think they all need medical treatment. They think having homosexual encounters is in fashion and that’s why they take to it,” she said casually during a social conversation, which is why we have not revealed her name. She feels having a sexual preference for the same sex is not a ‘hormonal thing’ or a way in which our body is programmed - it is just a fad.