A little more than a year ago in July, I woke up one morning fully expecting to read on Indian News Sites that the Delhi High Court would have ruled that Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code will not be changed. That was not the case. Now, I will be honest – I did not follow the debate or activities in India on the issue keenly, I was aware of the Case judgment being due soon, The Naz Foundation at the helm, Queer pride parades in India becoming more prominent – I did not feel strongly about it , I did not feel. period. With the same nonchalance or callousness that a lot of queer people adopt in order to get about their lives unaffected by most things. Yet that morning when I read that the judgment by the Delhi High Court in effect legalized homosexuality in India, I cried (tears of joy, silly!) I might have even convinced myself otherwise but the wetness on my cheeks gave it away. Do not ask me why I cried. Or maybe you know why.
Then started the Media blitz on the issue – “Should Homosexuality be legalised?” “Is Homosexuality a crime?” “Is Article 377 of the IPC a legacy of British colonialism?”. I watched the debates, fascinated. Show after Show on CNN-IBN, NDTV and Times Now brought queer and straight folks together to “talk it out” – Hear both sides of the issue. You had the actress with no leading roles or movies but with a big heart championing the cause of gay people into every camera and microphone, You had the yoga chap who could supposedly cure queer-ness with Yoga (cheery! there goes my idea of exercise) and then you had the same priests, maulanas and other lovely individuals (retired IPS officers and astrologers with time on their hands and the likes) suddenly having a say in letting other people live. The Queer folks were well, Queer for the most part, Lawyers, Activists – some of them were straight – editors from The Hindu, More Activists, Allies, Elderly lady hitting on Barkha Dutt (were she gay) so on and so forth. It was not what was being discussed that was groundbreaking, it was the fact that there was a discussion at all. Very often, I found myself going back and watching some debates or parts of them again – for kicks. Because there were some very funny things said and some very true.
Among the first few debates in the wake of the judgment was a panel organized on July 03, 2009 by NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan( who looked quite fetching wearing her straight-deluded-person-directed-I-want-to-eyeroll-but-can’t expression ) I would highly recommend watching all 45 minutes of the debate. The Queer-iest part of this debate though was (at 17:00 minutes into the video) Gautam Bhan’s response to an audience question. It lists right up there among the very true.
Clueless Chap in the Audience: “Mr. Gautam, if tomorrow supreme court decides that this should be banned, would you stop practicing homosexuality?”
Gautam [while Nidhi Razdan looks upon fondly and indulgently]: “umm…see…what we are… we are. You can legislate 9000 laws against me. I am the person I am. I will always be the person I am. Now tomorrow could I turn a switch off and stop being gay ? I couldn’t. If I could, I would seriously think about it…sometimes. On the tough days you think about it, on the good days you don’t.”
[ This article with minor edits was formerly cross posted at Queer Coolie ]