Education

Busting misconceptions about the LGBTQIA+ community: Part 2

What factors cause homophobia?

Homophobia pertains to discrimination and hate crimes against the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It has been found in studies like The Roots Of Homophobia – Putting Freud To The Test[1] people with such prejudices tend to hold the following attitudes and opinions:

  • Have few  or  no friends from the LGBTQIA+ community
  •  Might have grown up in an environment with rigid belief systems, toxic masculinity and gender role systems.
  • Are likely to repress their ideas about sexuality or express it, tends to avoid conversations about sex with their children as well.
  • Might  be  older and  have basic education

The idea of homosexuality is out of the common notion for many people. Which can be perceived as giving away control, disturbing order and predictability in the world, which can lead to them wanting to control this extraneous factor and make it right in their world view. Many other factors such as social system, patriarchy, preconceived notions, prior beliefs etc can be manifested as deep-rooted mindsets which can play a role in homophobic views of an individual, but a little education, understanding, and sensitivity can change these views. Although many of it still remains unclear as to why homophobia exists from a scientific point of view, it can always be observed as a social phenomenon based on prejudice.

Cross dressing:

Crossdressing is the act of wearing clothing which is not commonly associated with the one’s sex. This is done in an attempt to express themselves, disguise or feel more comfortable. The main goal of cross-dressing is to pass (also known as passing) as the other sex in the larger societal setting.. Clothing through ancient times has been seen as a symbol of wealth, job and gender but now the dressing and clothes are being broken out of the construct of gender. Crossdressing is such a practise, where dressing how one identifies is more important than what the society thinks how a certain gender should dress. Crossdressing is not in any way an indicator of a transgender, but just another choice some of the people take up. Why they want to crossdress has been a question asked and has become the basis of many theories but no theory, in particular, has any strong conclusions.

Allies and the community:

An ally is a person who helps raise the voice of the community in the society using their privilege to break the stigmas associated with that community. While many ally groups can be found in various countries, from peer support groups in colleges and schools and various NGOs as well,  in India, though the first ally support group was formed by 10 parents from Mumbai, unfortunately, no online presence of this group can be found. While many USA based groups, the oldest amongst them being the PFLAG (parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays)  has over 400 chapters within the USA  and was founded in 1973 by Jeanne Manford have a much larger presence and have many projects running[2].

LGBTQ+ community does accept these allies, a community which has been working to eradicate prejudice will never hold any prejudice for their own allies. No such source has been found where prejudice for allies has been reported by the LGBTQ+ community.

Coming out and what makes a good ally:

The idea of coming out to near and dear ones can be horrifying for many as it can mean facing rejection and social isolation. Humans are social animals: the thought of being alone and lonely from an evolutionary point of view is terrifying, as during the stone age it was important to remain in groups for safety, nurturance, support etc. the thought of being alone and lonely can be linked to depression and anxiety. Family is the closest set of people we live with and is our immediate support system without whose support a person may feel like a failure in the outer world. The fear of facing rejection and abandonment from the family, many people fear coming out to them, as they are well aware of the ideas and mindsets of their family.

The fear of coming out to friends can be deep-rooted in not being accepted, facing backlash, being marginalised, bullying, minority stress and facing targeted violence. For any person to be able to come out to you without any fear, show them beforehand that you are a good ally, and if they come out to you then they will have your full support. Normalize the use of they/them pronouns in your vocabulary. Do not assume that someone you know is straight or associate themselves with the LGBTQIA+ until and unless they tell you.

According to a Gay and lesbian alliance against defamation, which is an American NGO, the  best way to be a good ally is:

  • To listen to the other person
  • Being open-minded
  • Educate yourself on the LGBTQIA+ community
  • Do not make jokes about them, make them feel safe and make sure that they can trust you with this information
  • Help them if they are being discriminated against.
  • Making sure their voice gets heard
  • Educate others

Why is same sex marriage still illegal in India?

Article 377 and laws against homosexuality were put in place in the British Raj era India in the year 1861, i.e. the 19th century and currently we are in the 21st century, while many of the politicians and the larger society as a whole in India have seemed to forget that, and are still living in the era when the British ruled over us, though Britain changed their laws in  1967- the article 377 was not removed in India until 2018.

When the British came to India around 200 years ago to trade, they came with their belief systems, one of which was against the third genders which were/is common in India. Hijras, as they are called in India, were a part of the Indian king court and queen’s maidens. The country from whose culture Kamasutra was born and even in various temples depictions, as well as the subject of ancient painting, was sexual positions, sexual orientations of various members of the society can be seen. It was colonisation and imposition of laws by the British that the third gender was marginalized in Indian society.

But despite gaining independence for 74 years, sadly India’s Constitution still holds laws which are older than our independence, even though the British no longer rule over us but we are still ruled by their laws and their belief system (internalized colonisation). It is not up until recently that we have started changing the laws, even though the progress is moving at a snail’s pace, revolution is coming to India.

Removing article 377 has given a way to the LGBTQ+ community in India. Though third gender marriage still remains unrecognised in India by law, cohabitation of a same-sex couple is legal in India and there exists no such ruling where same-sex couples cannot cohabitate. Marriage laws in India are even more complicated. It was not until 1954 that marriage between two people of two different religions was recognised by law. In a country as diverse as India in terms of religion, marriage laws are also under the spell of religion and the complicated matter of marriage being recognised by law is limited due to several beliefs in the Indian society.

Endnotes:

[1] The Roots Of Homophobia – Putting Freud To The Test | Assault On Gay America | FRONTLINE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/freud.html

[2] PFLAG. (2020, October 30). Retrieved from https://pflag.org/

References:
  1. 10 Ways to Be an Ally & a Friend. (2015, July 16). Retrieved from https://www.glaad.org/resources/ally/2
  2. Campaign, Human Rights. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions” (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2006-0018+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN 
  3. Inc., T. G. (2013, June 01). Transgender, Transsexual, Gender Identity, Gender Diversity. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20160305000529/https://gendercentre.org.au/resources/polare-archive/archived-articles/a-cross-dressing-perspective.htm
  4. Mehta, V. (2019, June 29). 8 Benefits of Being a Straight Ally to the LGBT Community. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-games/201906/8-benefits-being-straight-ally-the-lgbt-community
  5. Parenthood, P. (n.d.). What is homophobia? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sexual-orientation/sexual-orientation/what-homophobia
  6. Rfe/rl. (2020, May 16). In Some Countries, Being Gay Or Lesbian Can Land You In Prison…Or Worse. Retrieved from https://www.rferl.org/a/in-some-countries-being-gay-or-lesbian/30612062.html
  7. Society: Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual: Homophobia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://curlie.org/Society/Gay,_Lesbian,_and_Bisexual/Homophobia
  8. Summers, Randal W. (2016). Social Psychology: How Other People Influence Our Thoughts and Actions [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 232. ISBN 9781610695923.
  9. The Roots Of Homophobia – Hating Gays – An Overview Of Scientific Studies | Assault On Gay America | FRONTLINE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/overview.html
  10. The Roots Of Homophobia – Putting Freud To The Test | Assault On Gay America | FRONTLINE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/freud.html

This post is the second part of a two-part article. It is authored by Avneet Kaur, a member of the Praxis education trust team as well as the mental health awareness team. 

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