This morning, I decided to dust off the cobwebs from my old blog and start afresh and that’s when I remembered a piece I had written about pride month a while back. Until a few years ago, I had no idea that June is celebrated as pride month (pardon my ignorance, I have rectified it by reading up on it now). Hence, I think this is a good topic to start with.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of pride month is a TED talk by Shah Rukh Khan, where he said “…Life was simple back then…I really thought that gay was a sophisticated English word for happy and lesbian was of course the capital of Portugal, as you all know…” His words reflected my exact thoughts.
To be honest, while growing up in a considerably broadminded South Indian family in India, I had never come across any mention of the LGBT community. From being that naïve teenager who didn’t know the difference between Lisbon and lesbian to being an adult who is more aware of this community and the atrocities they have to face in the hands of a so called modern society, life’s come a long way…I’ve come a long way.
Though many conservative minds still don’t accept the existence of the LGBT people, some folks seem to be more accommodating; especially in the creative world of television and cinema. We have come a long way from the conservative shows that that did not dare to explicitly show any homosexual characters to having numerous shows that portray openly gay lead characters. And I am not talking just about showbiz here in the US. Some Indian shows and movies have taken the lead in incorporating these characters, with big name movie stars courageously portraying gay and transgender characters.
About a year ago, out of sheer curiosity of seeing a trailer with veteran actors Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, I started watching a show called Grace and Frankie. The very first episode had me hooked. It began with the two ladies, in their 70s, waiting for their husbands at a fancy restaurant. They think that the husbands, who are partners at a law firm, are going to announce their retirement. Little do they know what’s going to hit them in the next few minutes! This is what follows:
Grace: Hi Robert, what’s the occasion, why are we here tonight?
Frankie: We think that you and Saul are going to announce your retirement today, is that it?
Robert: No, that’s not it.
The wives: What is it then?
Robert: I want a divorce, Grace. So does Saul.
Grace and Frankie (looking at each other and the men in utter disbelief): But we’ve been married for forty years!!!
Robert: Yes, but there’s more; Saul and I love each other and want to get married.
Grace and Frankie: …
It took Robert and Saul 20 long years to muster the courage to ‘come out’ to their wives. The story evolves from this killer opening scene to showcase the reactions of their children and friends and how the entire drama eventually reaches a new phase of normalcy.
Consider this, if characters in a scripted television show struggle this much to come out, how difficult would it be for a common person? To this day, the taboo attached to homosexuality often forces a person with a different sexual orientation to lead their life pretending to be straight and not really being able to fit into society. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to pretend to be someone you are not and lead a normal life!
Though there has been progress in the acceptance of same sex marriages and the LGBT community as a whole, we all still have a long way to go to reach a happy place where the straight people of the world understand that the queer community are not deviant characters and are as much part of this world as we are.
Here’s to the day when we won’t need to label anyone as being part of a specific community and be just one big clan of happy humans! Happy Pride Month!!!