Updated: May 18
Year 2012, Class 8th
My classroom had a very eerie vibe when I was in 8th grade, perhaps my ignorance at the time fooled me into believing that school was perhaps a nurturing environment for students. For some of us it truly was, for most others, it was quite insufferable for various reasons. One of us, was a boy with many apparent feminine behaviors. To this day, I do not know his sexual orientation, but he was possibly the first case of homophobia I had witnessed in life.
His parents constantly asked his teachers to help correct his 'wrong behavior'. Our teachers at school had their own kind of conversion therapy for him, which involved beatings, humiliation, taunts, etc etc. Bullying was routine and I remember a particular incident where I made a remark on him too. His lack of masculinity was somehow a joke to us, and something was wrong with him based on the standards set by us.
Somehow he still came out sane from all of this.
Recently, a friend of mine discussed LGBTQA rights with her parents, and the only question her mother asked was if she is gay. In case she is, there's no need to hide, they will help her and take her to a doctor.
Today, the first thing I read on the internet was a news report by FirstPost reporting the death of a 21 year old student Anjana Hareesh, from Kerala. She had gone to Goa for a vacation with friends, and got stuck there due to the lock-down. Her body was found near her resort in Goa, police suspects suicide.
What is particularly curious about this death, is the fact that she was reportedly forced by her family to undergo conversion therapy, after she came out to them as bisexual.
"Conversion therapy is a pseudo scientific practice of trying to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual/bisexual to heterosexual through psychological or spiritual interventions." ~ Wikipedia
These practices have been discredited time and again, but are still found to be prominently continued by cosmic healers, priests, god-men, even licensed medical practitioners. Some methods used are ovariectomy, clitoridectomy, physical castration, vasectomy and lobotomy, exorcism, hormone replacement therapy, anti psychotic drugs used for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorders, chemical castration, aversive conditioning, aura cleansing, meditation and horribly, one of these disgusting practices is also, corrective rape.
It has been scientifically proven that homosexuality is anything but unnatural, or a disease, and thus cannot be 'cured' by conversion therapy. But our stigma towards homosexuality, has led us to believe otherwise.
Anjana's apparent suicide has started a conversation about the despicable practice of conversion therapy and the mental trauma endured by the LGBTQA community because of it. Very often, the mental trauma undergone by the LGBTQA community due to the biases and cruel practices prevalent in society towards them, is ignored. What is even more dangerously ignored is the threat that their own families pose towards these individuals. Even though the historical decision by the SC of India abolished Section 377, homosexuality still remains a criminal act, and a disease in the minds of the Indian society.
The only way to protect the LGBTQA community and offer support is by calling for the abolishment of conversion therapies and other practices against the community. Another way of offering support is by creating safe spaces for the community. Call out your friends for the homophobic/transphobic/biphobic slurs they use. Call out your friends for the problematic content they consume and the content creators they support (yes I'm asking you to call out your friends who support Carryminati and other homophobic content creators). Slurs are not harmless: they're born out of the assumption that being gay makes one less of a human and that trans people can be insulted without consequences.
Finally, be better allies. LOVE IS LOVE :)
17th May is celebrated as International Day against Trans-phobia, Homophobia and Bi-phobia, and we're hoping for a better, brighter future.
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