I have been privileged to be exposed and have access to the Internet. The numerous shows I have watched and continue to watch on the Internet have been like stepping stones, helping me get to my ideal self — one step at a time. These stepping stones have been filled with joy, heartbreak, anxiety, faith, hope, and resilience. The shows I’ve watched have been companions to me, accompanying me during different times in my life. Most recently, I came across one such companion that has stayed with me: Made In Heaven.
Since Made In Heaven’s trailer was released, I knew I wanted to watch the show primarily because it had an Indian, male gay character. But it ended up delivering much, much more. In just nine episodes, it didn’t only reflect on the grandeur of the Indian wedding but also the grandiosity of the patriarchy that sits at the head of the table in some form or capacity in every desi household. It is a powerful, nuanced show that covers, among other things, homophobia, internalized homophobia, misogyny, classism, ageism, as well as the implications of a homophobic Section 377. As an openly gay man, I empathized most with Arjun Mathur’s character, Karan, who also, in a bittersweet experience, reminded me of a love that isn’t meant to be. I finished the show in two days, and while I had a lot to say about it immediately after, I had to process it and let it sink in for it had left me feeling emotionally stirred up and, quite frankly, lonely. Most surprisingly, though, it gave me an exchange with my mom I didn’t see coming.
It was a Wednesday morning, I was eating my breakfast before I had to leave for work, and my mom came to me and asked, out of the blue, if I had ever been harassed for being gay. I couldn’t help but respond to her question with a question: Why do you ask? She said she’d watched the episode of Made In Heaven the previous night wherein — SPOILER ALERT — Karan gets harassed by the police for being gay. I told her I’d never been harassed to that extent, but that I was bullied in school. I deliberately chose to not mention how I was constantly called “chhakka” or how I was made fun of for being effeminate because I didn’t and don’t want her to feel responsible. The bullying I was subjected to did not and does not make my parents any less of the most supportive parents they’ve always been. It only made those bullies less human for me. And that’s on them — not my parents or anyone else.
A product of her own conditioning, my mom did not have the most accepting reaction when I came out to her in January of 2013. Hence, this two-minute exchange was a reminder of the progress she’s made, of the fifty-year conditioning she’s had to challenge, confront, and overcome to be more accepting of her son. It was also a reminder of the impact a show can have on people. If it weren’t for Made In Heaven, I maybe wouldn’t have had this exchange with my mom, or she maybe wouldn’t have told me that if anyone were to ever hurt or harass me, she’d give it to them.
Thank you, Made In Heaven and, especially, Arjun Mathur, for telling Karan’s story so realistically. Thank you for opening up people’s hearts and minds. Thank you for encouraging viewers to challenge their own conditioning. And thank you for bringing my mom and I closer.