There are a lot of myths and half-truths about the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Most Indian parents are still largely ignorant of the LGBT community and their sexuality. There is also a great amount of confusion within the LGBT community itself. Many still struggle between coming out to their parents and decide to keep it hidden, while others do not know how to approach or express themselves to those around them. Coming Out is a process for most LGBT individuals, but in India, it is fraught with many hurdles and obstacles. These range from lack of awareness about gender identities and sexual orientations to social stigma and criminal offense.
While the Indian Constitution, which was adopted in 1950, unequivocally states that “the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex”, it fails to affirm lesbian and gay Indians. Article 377 of the Penal Code is a remnant of British colonial rule and a vestige of Victorian morality. The Indian history is naked proof of the acceptance of gender and sexual diversity by many cultures, but with the coming of the colonialists, homo-eroticism was interpreted as a sign of civilizational decadence, leading to many being social outcasts.
In India, LGBT issues are widely considered a western import into Indian culture, even as evidence of an urban, globalized, and liberal outlook. This attitude leads to a reluctance to acknowledge or address the issues facing homosexuals in Indian society. With a few exceptions, Indian society has traditionally been conservative and anti-LGBT and this limits notions of family and marriage to heterosexual monogamous ones. The moment a woman or man is suspected to be homosexual, they face ostracism and discrimination. Respecting privacy and avoiding questions about their personal life keeps most people closeted.
For many in India, the current struggle is to merely come to terms with their sexuality. For others, it is to prove that LGBT people actually exist where they live, despite being hidden for centuries. For still others, it is striving for acceptance from family and friends. In short, it’s a struggle to be human despite yourself. On the other hand, you might be surprised by how much tolerance there is for LGBT individuals in other parts of India.
Sometimes people grow up in India never knowing that there are other people out there like them. For many young LGBT Indians, this lack of role models can be a real problem because it gives them only one way of seeing themselves: as outsiders. They don’t have anyone to show them different ways of being gay that might make it easier for them to live. The Indian Supreme Court’s historic ruling decriminalizing homosexuality last September has been hailed by many as the biggest step toward equal rights for LGBT people in India. But despite its progressive nature, the verdict remains a far cry from legal empowerment for the queer community.