A Queer Take on the Idea of ‘Pride’ in India

Yes, it is June – that time of the year when social media feeds are filled with rainbow flags and the word “pride”.

If you have an openly gay friend in your circle, there is a high possibility that you already have an idea about it.

This is the ‘Pride Month’ – they say.

For those who don’t know, June is considered as the month of Gay Pride. This month was specifically chosen to commemorate the Stonewall Riots which occurred in June 1969. Don’t worry, I am not here to bore you with a history lesson. If you’re interested,  you can always Google it.

And instead of delving into the why, I am going to share how I feel about this month.

Dating as queer

Growing up as a queer kid, I always used to find this movement fascinating. I used to feel delighted to see so many people openly expressing their sexuality and at the same time extending solidarity with others. It was great to know that there are millions out there who feel just like me and that gay men, all over the world, take pride in what they are.

But as I grew up, I realised that reality is starkly different. For a large section of the community, ‘pride’ doesn’t even remotely define the emotions that they go through on a daily basis.

Also read: The Trials and Tribulations of Millennial Queer Dating

I still remember the day when I first decided to enter the “dating club”, by which I mean, making various accounts on gay dating sites. I was nervous but at the same time, I was feeling strangely liberated. At that moment, I felt that I had finally won the battles – institutionalised by society – I had been fighting within since the day I was born. The continuous struggle of denying what I am and trying to ‘fit’ was finally over.

Although, technically I wasn’t coming out – I was still using a fake name with a fake profile picture — but still, something inside me was happy. I was finally acknowledging my identity and agreeing to let go of some inhibitions if not all. I felt as if this was going to be my safe haven, among my communion.

But soon after, I realised how wrong I was. It felt like someone woke me up from my dream and threw me into the same cruel world from which I was seeking relief.

Homophobia within the LGBTQIA+ community

The place was not at all like I imagined it to be. It was filled with misogynists, racists and (surprisingly) homophobes. All of them were willing to “hook-up”, given one satisfies their need. There were all kinds of people: casual racists, people claiming to be “straight” but just being curious and so on. I even came across a person who was unwilling to accept that he was a homosexual and believed that we all are just an abomination.

Surprisingly, he was willing to hook up with me. On asking why he was willing to do so, he said that he was doing me a favour by agreeing to sleep with me. That we – as gay men who were defying the laws of nature – deserve not more than this.

I am sure any queer reading this will recall having had interactions with such people at some point.

Hence, the question is, who are these people? Where are they coming from? Are they really just straight people preying upon our community or they are as much as gay as we are but not brave enough to shed their “straight” demeanour?

Well – gay or straight – whatever they are, they are very much part of society.

These people are the physical manifestation of what is wrong with our society. They grew up in a toxic environment where you constantly have to follow the “code” to be considered masculine. And one of the key aspects of that code is considering yourself sexually superior to others.

The unfortunate part is that even the queer community is not immune to this idea of toxic masculinity. Probably that is why there are people who are not willing to come out of their closets, because, for them, it is not just about the fear but also about facing the inner disappointment for not being able to follow the code. And perhaps that is why most of them are also homophobes.

I, myself, have met many people from the community, who don’t like those who are open about their sexuality. Some have even asked me some really bizarre questions before securing a date. For instance, “Do you dress weird?”, “Are you feminine?” and so on.

I am sure we all have come across gay people who blatantly judge other gay people for just being what they are. This is unfortunate.

And I, myself, am not too different from others. Even today, if I come across a eunuch in public transport, I can’t help but feel a strange revulsion in me against them. I am conditioned to feel that way.

Hence, I would like to address my fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we are free from all those societal nemeses with which we are constantly fighting. We should ask ourselves whether we really take “pride” in what we are. It is time to not just fight the battles within ourselves but also to acknowledge or commend those who are fighting it within our community.

Happy Pride month to you all.

Imtiaz Uddin is an amateur blogger. He is passionate about writing fiction and believes writing is the only way to discover your inner self.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty