Indraprastha College for Women organised a lecture on homosexuality recently which welcomed participants in huge numbers, including students from Miranda House and LSR. The Gender Sensitisation Committee in association with the Women Development Cell of the college invited speakers Dr. Akhil Katyal and Angana Sinha Ray to address students on the idea of visually defining homosexuals.
The talk began with a presentation by Dr. Akhil Katyal where he discussed the “roles protocols” that the society uses to recognize homosexuals.The idea he described was to visually apprehend and identify the homosexuals, thereby distinguishing them from the rest of the people. He established his point by drawing parallels from the contemporary world and elaborating the foundations of such judgements in the history of popular culture. He concluded his talk by debating the rationality of people in Law and Medical designing prototypes of a homosexual lifestyle and how the overarching moral code of our society still dictates our ideas of homosexuality.
The point was further elaborated by Miss. Angana, who is pursuing her final year of studies in Sociology from LSR. She opened her talk by discussing how the terms used to describe homosexuals are clinical and how India inherited this notion from the West. She describes how the society wishes to fit all its members into the normative design of this identity. It’s rare to grow up in an environment with representatives of the LGBTQ community and even rarer to see homosexuality portrayed on media screens in a tasteful manner. Owing in no small part of this, it has proven difficult to talk about homosexuality without the stereotypes attached to the concept. It is these stereotypes that form the foundations for visually configuring the homosexuals.
The discussion inspired several questions, a few of which dealt with the the effects and repercussions of this idea of visuality, the idea that the queer are distinguishable in their body language and intimate traits and can thus be seen as being different from the rest. While in reality, they are identical to the common populace and hence cannot really be “seen” as different from their peers. Not only does this divide needs policing but it’s time the society shed off the historically construed concept of a homosexual’s identity.
Feature image credits: Akshita Rawat