DUB Speak

It is about marriage and not ‘gay’ marriage

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The other day a friend shared a link over Facebook, which took one to a photographer’s site, who, amongst many things, specialised in weddings. The photos ticked all the marks of the usual cutesy wedding photo album. Happy people. Aww-inducing details. Heavy duty jewellery. The only thing different was the adjective of ‘LESBIAN’ before the word ‘WEDDING’ in the title. Unintentional on the photographer’s part, that qualifier set it apart from other weddings; a sign board with big blinking lights that says that a wedding is a wedding, unless it is a gay wedding. In extension, proximity to meaning and wide spread wrong usage of words, ‘wedding’ could be easily replaced by ‘marriage’ and it would still seem correct. If the gays are doing it, then they are just role playing. Everyone knows that a marriage is made by the union of a penis and a vagina, not love, trust and a jest for shared misery.

Britain recently became the 15th country in the world to legalise gay marriage, a country which took homophobia, both social and legalised, to all of its colonies, including India. As the Queen gave her royal stamp of approval, the less celebrated queens of the country found emancipation in the fact that they could now marry and not just be given the consolation prize of ‘civil union’. ‘Civil union’, in places where it is offered, carries almost all the legal rights associated with a marriage. People who worry about the sanctity of the ‘traditional marriage’ getting undermined by allowing queer people the right to marry get all boggled as to why the gays are being so adamant over the wording. Why do they want to be married and not civil-unionized instead? Marriage is between a man and a wife and it is true because we still like to be governed by laws made by wife-beaters back in the 20th century BC. How dare they be so disrespectful of tradition and antique ideas?

Yes, it is because they want equality of rights, which seems so logical when put like that. When a government actively sponsors different laws for people differentiated by superficial dissimilarities, it spells out that under the constitution which sees us all as equals, we will still be treated differently. The fight for gay rights is not a fight for special rights. Just like the Dalit movement in India, the American-African civil rights movement in the US or the women’s rights movement world over, the fight is about equality. The LGBTI community is too diverse in itself and recognises the inherent diversity in the world in large and in their immediate social space. But the wish to be governed under the same rights as any other average Tom, Dick and Sally is the only forward pushing force behind the Queer rights movement. They want no more privilege than any other, just what others already have.

People routinely ask why talk about gay rights when things like poverty, illiteracy and communalism are still doing somersaults in the country. Think about it in this way: will you still be asking the same questions if it were anti-caste discrimination or woman suffrage we were talking about? No, because even if you don’t really share the same enlightened views, you will be feeling uncomfortable airing such outdated ideas. The Queer rights movement is morally the same as any other civil rights movement. There is no logical counter for not extending the same rights to exist to non-heterosexual citizens as there were none in the case of women and Dalits. The only explanation is homophobia, which like sexism and casteism in the past, is no longer going to be okay to believe in in the near future.

In the international arena, especially and specifically the West, it is a good time for the LGBTI community. DOMA got repealed in the United States and England and Wales gave all their citizens equal rights to marry whoever they want to. Regarding gay marriage in India, it is not a question of why, it is a question of when. Indian mythology is spammed with examples of non-heteronormative characters and couplings. Already the Indian constitution defines ‘marriage’ in a gender neutral terms, whether an oversight or a foresight is debatable. Times change and with it definitions. Marriage was once exchange of money and cattle. And woman as much the property of her husband as his herd of goats. People want to get married and see their relationships getting the same respect as everyone’s. Definitions matter. Like the wisecrack Liz Feldman offered, “It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: marriage. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not ‘gay lunch’. I parked my car; I didn’t ‘gay park’ it.”

Image Credit: Steph Grant Photography

Pallab is a second year Literature student at Kirori Mal College who likes to believe that idealism still matters in the world, even though he himself finds it impractical at times. He likes to hoard more books than he can possibly read and wishes that writers begin to earn zillions by the time he becomes one.

Comments are closed.