In the present context the LGBTIQ community is defined through a legal nomenclature: Article 377. The LGBTIQ community is portrayed as victims by assigning legal frameworks exclusively for them which in reality also affects the Heterosexual community. Thanks to the media, article 377 is known as GAY SEX LAW when in reality in criminalizes all forms of sexual activity other than “peno-vaginal” sex. Media sensationalizes and glorifies Hegemonic Heteronormativity by stereotyping sex as a tool for reproduction. Companionship leading to marriage, then to child bearing and consequently to parenthood is glorified and romanticized thus resulting in discrimination and ghettoization of people who practice alternate sexuality. Hence according to the media continuity of lineage is the sole purpose of a relationship or a marriage. The sexual act is only an act of procreation and not an act of recreation. While talking about the lives of LGBTIQ people, there as well gender roles are assigned to both partners ex: Butch and Femme. Even in film and media the gender roles are portrayed through mannerisms, domestication or simply caricature. Male homosexuals will invariably have limp wrists thus establishing their femininity. Lesbians will invariably be vegetarian and gays will be into fashion. Thus creating “templates” or “categories” in which to put them under. Popular shows like Glee &Modern Family confirm to these stereotypes. Often the mainstream media and the society asks a Homosexual couple- So who is the man in the relationship irrespective of whether they are Lesbians or Gay thus confirming to Patriarchy.
The media focuses more on “what will sell” rather than reporting honestly as to “what it actually is” resulting in constant misrepresentation of a community thus creating a perception that they are non-humane and different, indirectly reinforcing discrimination. Words like “tolerance” is used which has an inherent tone of otherization in it rather than accepting that all forms of sexuality is as normal as other and hence an effort be made towards internalizing this thought process. 7-10% of India’s population is GAY, estimates Arvind Narrain, one of the founders of the Indian Research organization Alternative Law Forum. In a society which is being forced to become more right wing & fundamentalist- heterosexual cruising itself is becoming a problem for the people hence Gay Cruising is even more Taboo and not talked about yet Grindr, the best known gay hook up application has 69, 823 average active monthly users in India and is growing rapidly according to their company spokesperson. Though is number is small in comparison to International standards equaling the number of users only in Boston but the regressive culture of our society makes these figures all the more important. These people who hook up with each other and then eventually meet at parks, etc are then harassed and in some cases tortured by the police. Law is used to harass, extort and blackmail them. Govt. data shows 587 people have been arrested under 377 from Jan-OCT 2014 even though complete reports are lacking in some states. In certain cases instances have been heard where men or trans persons have also been raped by the police but Media completely avoids these stories and issues of rape, violence, sexual harassment and limiting the “Safety” issue only to women thus again confirming to “ what will sell” rather than “ what it actually is”.
It is estimated that around 300.000 LGBTIQ youths are arrested or detained each year. 60% of them are either black or Latino. LGBTIQ youths represent 5-7% of the world population but they form 13-15% of those currently in the juvenile justice system. Some of the reasons that can be identified for this are- family rejection, homelessness, bullying & harassment, biased school discipline policies and failed safety net programs. But their stories don’t make it to the households as regularly as it should. . Sensationalization is mostly done on aspects which are perceived by the so called mainstream society as Taboo. LGBTIQ sexuality is constantly being colored by a sexual brush. They are being looked through a colored glass which cannot visualise them out of bed engaging in carnal activity.A more humane sexuality needs to portrayed in which is gender and sexuality neutral which will thus be a step towards inclusivity. If issues of health care arise, only HIV and STD are talked about for them but media does not talk about the rights of basic health care.The transgender community being the most discriminated as their non-normativity is most visible. Focusing more on issues of attire and cross-dressing also increases homophobia and transphobia. An evidence of this is the murder of a hijra named Pravallika in Hyderabad. The police brutally tortured a friend of hers on the pretext of investigation. This involved stripping her in order to check if she was “really a transwoman”, and forcing her to remain nude for several hours. This is even more disturbing because of the recent NALSA vs Union of India Judgment of the Supreme Court recognizing equal & fundamental rights of transgender individuals. Having said this the reporting also needs a balance and It needs to use more gender neutral terms in their general discourse and portray positive stories as well as negative ones.For example if they only sensationalize lives of people who have faced horrific discrimination because of their sexual orientation and not the lives of those who have achieved glory despite it, it scares closeted people from coming out and continue to live in misery and a claustrophobic environment.
icons to look up to. In America Ellen Degeneres, Anderson Cooper of CNN, Jim Parsons of the famous American Television show Big Bang Theory and numerous others are considered gay icons and act as inspiration for various people especially teenagers to “ come out” & be free, open & liberated about who we are but this inherently preachy, hypocritical Bollywood culture everything is untold and Taboo thus setting a wrong example for its fans. This also has a negative impact on the “already open, ready to share” community members which is a huge setback towards the path of a liberal and Non- Hegemonic society.Lastly media must stop glorifying fidelity and linking it with sexuality thus branding the LGBTIQ community, especially the Bisexual community in a negative light. It needs to report about various scientific studies and discoveries with respect to sexuality which says “Humans are not monogamous in nature” irrespective of their sexual orientation thus again equating the normative and the so called non- normative community.
I would like to end by quoting James Baldwin, Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a person of the same gender, you fall in love with a person of the same gender. The fact that many people consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
About The Author:
Avik Ghosh is a B.Com (Hons) Graduate from Calcutta University. An aspiring filmmaker and an active member of Civilian Welfare Foundation (CWF), he is currently working on a documentary on Child Rights for CWF in association with CRY.