Our constitution talks about freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right against exploitation, amongst others. Are these rights just on a piece of paper or do we live and breathe them? If yes, are they only applicable to a certain part of society? The part, history has deemed correct and respectful?
The Vedic Age
People weren't always fighting for something as basic as who they can and cannot love, or what they identify as. India has an incredibly rich and accepting history, which dates all the way back to the Vedic ages, a time when homosexuality and a "third gender" was considered completely normal, to the extent that there was a term for it, Tritya Prakriti. There are also mentions of homosexuality and transgenders in books like the Manu Smriti and the Kama Sutra.
The criminalization of homosexuality first occurred during the British era in 1862 by way of Section 377 that stemmed from Britain’s own archaic anti-sodomy laws. From then on, it was an upward battle for any one part of the LGBTQ community or for anyone who didn’t fit into the box society had created for them.
The 90's and early 2000's
Since then, we’ve seen the first inter sex marriage, the birth of India’s first gay magazine in 1990, the first ever march for gay rights at an AIDS conference in Delhi. Following that, there have been countless additions to queer cinema and literature.
In 1999, there was the first ever Pride Parade in Calcutta, where only fifteen people marched, but it sent the message that they were gay, and proud!
Then followed the fight against the archaic Section 377 and, after a lot of setbacks and lost battles, we won on September 6, 2018. A day when everyone breathed a little better, because that glimmer of hope had been restored.
Unfortunately, we as a society still have a long way to go when it comes to acknowledging and accepting the gender spectrum while ensuring that every single person has the same opportunities. Just because some sections of society decided that people who are 'different,' are unworthy doesn't mean we must perpetuate that belief, it’s a mold that we must work together to break.
Pride is a lot more than marches and posting colourful stories on social media. It is about creating an environment where every single citizen of this country can live without inhibitions and walk with their head held high.
So, it’s time to celebrate your individuality. no excuses, no explanations.
Happy Pride Month!
Live aastey, with pride :)