To The Indians Who Have A Problem With Me Changing My Profile Picture To Support Gay Rights: Shut Up

Anonymous Anonymous in Bakkar. Chai. Sutta on 19 March, 2017

On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), in a landmark judgment, declared that it was unconstitutional for same-sex marriage to be banned by states, consequently legalizing it across the country. Following the judgment, companies on the web did a bunch of things to show solidarity, all involving the symbol of LGBT pride — the rainbow — and people on social media followed suit. While reactions from Americans, who have been grappling with this issue for a while now, were expected, those from a country on the other side of the globe ostensibly weren’t; scores of Indians on Facebook, (who btw, fun fact — make up the second largest market demographic for them*), joined in the movement and changed their display pictures as well. I’d call that brave, you — never mind.

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Apparently there are two types of stupid Indians in the world: those who ape the west and jump onto any bandwagon, and those who criticize the first kind and do everything possible to appear different.

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Ah, aren’t we a perfect poster boy for cringe-worthy post-colonialist attitudes.   </PauseForSarcasm>

Here’s why it’s absolutely essential for Indians to not hesitate in expressing solidarity and fuelling the LGBT movement in India. And if you have a problem with this, whoever you are, feel free to get back under that rock — ignorance must be the only thing going for you. This is an opportune moment for us, in case you don’t get it. It’s a spark and we need to light the fire. The world’s attention is focused on the issue with this bold SCOTUS decision. India is grappling with this issue too – there are millions of Indians who are unable to embrace their identities and live freely because of one of the many legal, cultural, and religious anachronisms in our country. Step into their shoes for once and imagine how it's like to live in a coffin while you’re alive.

If a few simple clicks can use the power of the social nudge that is Facebook, to create a wave of solidarity, what possible harm (assuming you’re not allergic to colours) can it do?

There are only two possible ways this can play out when millions of people show such solidarity – yes, some out of peer pressure**, and some who actually care about gay rights:

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1. The ideal: Ambivalent folks crossover and become passionate supporters. Conservative folks want in on the discussion. This year’s pride parade in India becomes the largest in the world. The ones who care start tweeting and posting to government officials’ social media handles. LGBTQ rights are forced to become an election issue.

2. The minimal: Seeing overwhelming support and solidarity from known people on social media, gay people gather the courage and strength to come out to their families and take the first step towards embracing who they are.

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Come on India, tell me what possible harm could come of EITHER of these two scenarios? The only stupid Indian for me is one who argues against something without really being against anything. The people who shout ‘fad’ and don’t understand that it doesn’t (*explicit*) matter, especially when the basic freedom to be who you are, is at stake; because if you’re against either of the two scenarios, you’re either 80, or are running late for your sermon at your neighbourhood church/mosque/temple/RSS sangathan – either way, it’s soul searching time.

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Of course, in this age, such expressions of solidarity don’t necessarily imply support, and conversely, not expressing solidarity doesn’t imply opposition. But if you are a member of the young, educated, and Internet savvy Google/Facebook generation, there really is no excuse for not supporting gay rights even if we do have religion and culture and tradition and law against it.

Do you really want to be the generation that stood by passively and allowed millions of people to suffer because they weren’t programmed to love the way you were?   <PauseForCrassRiposte>

Look Mr Shivam Vij (refer here). Indians love America. Our IT services industry perfectly represents our relationship with the US. We aim to please, live to serve; whether it’s their politics in the UN, or their businesses outside it. We yearn to live the American dream, and idolize people like Satnam Singh and the great Khali who are living it. We rejoiced when Bobby Jindal became Governor (but cringe when he speaks now). We love their movies and TV shows, and incessantly wish Bollywood would come close to an Inception or a Dallas Buyer’s Club. We love the Grammys and the Oscars, Metallica and Aerosmith, the Doors and Taylor Swift. We grew up listening to Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, and watched Scooby Doo and Swat Kats religiously.

It makes perfect sense for India to react the way it has to this judgment I’d say. America is deeply sowed into the Indian fabric, and we can either pull at the threads and ruin it, or appreciate the embroidery.

So America lovers, why not imbibe the only awesome thing that the US has finally done for humanity since ten seasons of FRIENDS?

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As the youngest nation in the world, the way our generation acts and reacts today will shape the humanity of future generations. Indeed this may even be the cornerstone of India’s sociocultural journey — let’s make sure we choose to head towards a destination that values equality and compassion.

To quote, quite fittingly, the American superhero, Captain Planet, “The power is yours!”

  This post was submitted by Ramit Malhotra  


* There are 112 million Indians on facebook, with approximately 75% under the age of 35. This is important because this facebook generation, if sensitized, will give birth to a new generation of Indians who will have the benefit of not being parented by ill-informed-idiots. Hurray for alliteration.

** Armchair activism is a thing, but for a society that’s already decently informed about an issue. In a country where we’re only just coming to terms with straight sex, slacktivism isn’t that bad if it results in sensitization of a generation, and encourages dialogue at the minimum. In an effort to look cool, if you get a little informed along the way, what’s the harm?