This month, we’re celebrating pride.
We are celebrating love in all its multitude. Or are we? Are we celebrating it, or in that attempt, unknowingly romanticising the idea of love. And in doing so, are we only making it inaccessible?
It comes as no surprise that in our pursuit of political correctness, we can often undermine that which is, in fact, definitive; that which is real and sustained. It is important to question our ideals and obtain an enhanced spectrum of definitions. But it is also important to tap our unintentional invisibilising of certain subjective issues having rich subtext, all for the sake of being politically correct. For instance, our reception of the idea of love.
Love is love, but what is love?
The poster boy of this month’s celebration of pride, the phrase ‘Love is Love’ is highly clichéd, and has drifted into an unseemly overdrive. Joshua Muyiwa, a Bengaluru-based poet and writer, problematises the idea of ‘Love is Love’. A celebration of love is not derived from justifying or validating the emotion as being ‘acceptable’ or ‘normal’. If it is, the exercise is, in fact, pointless, because it invisibilises the struggles and challenges of love, and seeks to valorise the emotion instead.
Also read: A Queer Take on the Idea of ‘Pride’ in India
The LGBTQIA+ community has been characterised by their right to love whomsoever they will. But even within the community, the idea of love is highly internalised and inexplicable. No surprises, because the social construct of cisnormativity sees their love as something special. In pedastalising the objects of affection, an emotional anarchy bereft of agencies is initiated.
For instance, look at the agential roles assigned in the toxic hyper-masculine claim to women’s bodies. Muyiwa writes that the LGBTQIA+ community’s idea of love is just as different from the heteronormative idea of love as it is similar to it. It becomes difficult to draw the line, and the continued efforts to do so – especially by those outside the community – is ignorant, to say the least.
When the LGBTQIA+ community seeks marriage rights, it also attains the right to divorce their spouses. Marriages are not eternal. Their love is not unaffected by the outside. Their love is love. It is not Love.
The process of ‘falling in love’ is not as rosy as the phrase in question suggests. It challenges societal perspectives, subverts heterosexual expectations and challenges the idea of ‘normal’. It is a constant existential conflict that bites at the idea of sustaining a rebellion, all in order to find love. The process is not just about coming to terms with what is on the outside, but also registering and acknowledging one’s own identity, which is clearly something a lot more difficult than settling in a social mould.
Pride is about a lot of things, but not (specifically) about deriving its agency from heteronormativity.
Recently, the Pune pride parade, on June 2, marked its victory in terms of participation and subversion. However, it had its own restricted sense of liberation.
Undeniably, expression finds its meaning in its adaptability to the platform and space it is given. It is not to say that to run rife into the far fields of lawlessness is what this community wants, but it is, in fact, quite the opposite. They aspire to access the parks and the movies, without someone batting an eye. But that remains a far-fetched reality for a community taking its first steps in securing a place for itself. One can only hope to reach there in time.
Another queer idea that incentivises the outbreak against the valorised ‘Love is Love’ is that of compulsive love. Where is love for those who choose not to love? The LGBTQIA+ community is not about tokenism. What is love for asexuals?
We attempt to step forward into a progressive and diverse space – a space that is complex and confusing because of its unfamiliarity. However, we try to go into such a space with a romantic head-rush. Is that healthy?
Are we going a step ahead, or falling back? Maybe we are just rooting ourselves to the spot, and wading and calibrating through our own entitled sense of ‘good judgement’.
One of our professors at college once said, “Dallying with words and languages makes them wanton.” An understanding of history tells us that language forms the context, and that context goes on to build a benchmark for expectations. Expectations, in turn, can potentially reinforce stereotypes and normalise transgressions: emotional and social. The language used in addressing social causes, then, must filter through patronising claims.
Love is what we need, but it is also something that requires caution. It is obsessive at times, toxic at other times. Love is insecure, problematic and restrictive, even as it is about safety, solutions and liberation.
‘Love is Love’ yokes the element of absolutism in the emotion. And as everyone who has ever experienced love might tell you, it is never absolute.
Kartik Chauhan functions on borderline inconsistent rudeness masqueraded as sass.
Featured image credit: Sai Mytheli/ Instagram handle: @of_paintedskies