Children of a Lesser God?


Nearly ten years ago, I got a break courtesy a friend, to write for a publishing house for children’s books. The first and second books were books of one hundred essays and a lot of other forms of creative writing. The topics were handed over to me. The first book was for the students of the primary section while the second was for the secondary age group.

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The topics for the essays for the secondary section astounded me. I had not known about a few of the topics given to me till I reached college and I was to write about those for kids that young?! My son was nearly ten then and would be eligible to read the book in a year or two. Would I want him to read it? As I tackled the topics, I wrote as honestly as I could, keeping in mind my son so that my conscience remained clear that I was giving children to read what I thought was appropriate for my own. 

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It is only then that I actually gave this topic much thought - Gay marriages. So much has changed since. I re-read the essay recently and I find it wanting for clarity and I find that I myself was not accepting of it as I am today. In fact, it was a rather stuck up and rigid sort of essay. Something that seems so logical to me today didn’t seem so back then. Horse with blinkers, perhaps! Actually, it’s more than that. I never do have a problem with anything unless it is forced but my ideas were written keeping in mind the social norm. When you try and fit in to a society, you tend to be dishonest and you do go beyond your basic nature; a reason why I like to keep this blog anonymous for I do not want to compromise on honesty here.

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The first time I heard about gays and lesbians was on my first day of my first ever psychology class. It was a lecture which touched upon various branches in psychology and this came under abnormal psychology. I, wrapped in cotton wool by my parents till grade twelve, had left home for the first time, blissfully unaware of nearly everything due to limited reading (I am ashamed to admit) and exposure, was as it is having a culture shock in the country’s capital in one of its best colleges! This knowledge had me wide eyed and God has his ways! I was in the hostel in a corner room and I didn’t have a roommate till then. I was summoned to a room just short of the common room by a bunch of seniors after dinner. It was one of their rooms and was dimly lit with a red lamp and the five seniors, all from the North East, sat on the two beds staring at me. I was nervous as hell. I had had ragging sessions before but there were a few friends with me at all times and we bore it together; this time I was alone.

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“Do you know about lesbians, fresher?” she asked. Why I say she is because, I didn’t know her name and she was the only one who talked, the others repeated parts for effect or made noises to make the episode sinister. They wanted to terrify me and were succeeding at an alarmingly fast rate. I nodded meekly thinking of the morning class. “Aren’t you the fresher in the last corner room and without a roommate?”I nodded again, will power stopping my pajamas from getting wet. “You better watch out fresher. Who knows, who might come visiting during late hours?!” I was in shock and they seemed happy with my expression and with one last word of caution, they dismissed me. I went to the common room sweating with fear. I told no one. I just prayed and wanted to get out of the place for good.

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Once in the room, I locked the doors and the miniscule windows which had grills in the first place, as though lesbians crawled in like caterpillars! I was just so ignorant and so frightened. I went to bed early covered my head with the pillow to drown out all noises and prayed to Lord Shiva ardently. I had drifted into never land when a loud knock on the door followed by “Open the door fresher” rudely woke me up. I sat upright in panic. I glanced at my bedside clock. It was short of midnight. I stopped breathing as though that might shoo them away. No such luck. The knocking and the noises got louder. I opened the door. Two seniors, whom I had never seen before, gave me a room number and told me to be there in two minutes. I dragged myself out for I did not have the guts to defy them but much to my relief another first termer, out of the few I knew and liked was coming out of her room, but she looked rather calm-obviously, she hadn’t been cornered earlier! She told me it was a Birthday celebration of some senior. I heaved a huge sigh of relief! I wasn’t going to be molested by a lesbian after all! When we reached the room, we saw a senior (who was my favourite for she had sheltered me a couple of times from ragging and was a delight to talk to being rather well read) draped in nothing but a bed sheet dancing on the bed. My friend and I looked at each other. She normally dressed like a boy and to see her like this was a bit unnerving and then there were whispers!!! 

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By the time I came to the third year, I was elevated to the status of a counselor by my friends and one of them even made a “Do not disturb” sign for me to hang outside my door while my sessions were on. During one such session, a girl told me that she got really intimate physically with another girl. She was tense and upset and I felt bad for her. I did not know how to handle it but I didn’t feel repulsed, not for a moment- all I felt was love for this very vulnerable person in front of me. I spoke to both the girls involved and told them that they could work their feelings out with one another when they were independent but they should focus on their studies at that point of time and stop mingling with one another if they served as distractions. Friendship was great but they could wait longer for the rest of it to unfold. That phase passed and today both are happily married with heterosexual partners and doing very well.

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Adolescence and early adulthood sees a lot of hormonal changes and introduces us to our sexuality. We need to express it. Some begin masturbating, others are just happy reading romantic novels; some indulge physical activity and others in sexual activity. In hostels, which have only girls or only boys, they experiment with one another which in these cases are the same sex and probably, those with heterosexual tendencies might start exhibiting homosexual tendencies.


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All of the above, starting from college to what I have written after that is all the knowledge that I had with me when this essay came my way. So, I did some research and wrote the essay with just two messages in my mind to convey. Number one, no human being should be discriminated for any reason including sexual preference as long as it is consensual and number two; I did not want the essay to be seen as propagating or glorifying homosexuality. I did not want to be responsible for children experimenting to find out. In doing the latter, I was in effect, unknowingly, endorsing that gays and lesbians were in fact abnormal and while they should be accepted for what they were we should still realize they are not normal. The sexual act is made for propagation of species and that isn’t possible in homosexual couples so it is in fact an aberration but since their orientation is beyond their control and it is their inherent nature, they ought not to be looked down upon. At that time if someone asked me, if it was okay if my son or daughter turned out to be homosexual, I would have nodded with a red face(as red as a brown face can get!). 

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The years went by and I turned a wise forty. I had read much more and I was more tolerant, less judgmental. I knew this because I started getting irritated more and more, when people talked ill of people or condemned them for something that didn’t merit such strong words. I couldn’t be angry for long for the other side’s problems also affected me, be it the maid or anyone else who rubbed me the wrong way.


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One fine day, I hear from a very dear friend (more family than friend, come to think of it) after a long while. Not known for being all that good at staying in touch, this came as a welcome surprise. He had been down with an illness for a long while and was still recovering when he called. He spoke about everything, hinting about something and giving me an impression that there was a lot more that went unsaid. A few months later we meet at Mumbai, the four of us and him, with his friend. When he said there was a friend, my mood was off for I can never be myself if there is a third person I don’t know. I become extra polite and measured in my interaction. Yet, we were to meet them at their place and then they took us out for a delicious meal at the club. We had lots of fun and laughed aplenty as we usually do and he handed me a letter, nearly twenty years old (I didn’t say hundred for that would mean I am old too) which he had forgotten to post. We said our goodbyes and I could see my friend though happy was holding a lot back. 


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My husband and I were silent on our long drive the next day (I was reading the letter) and then all of a sudden, he asked me if I thought our friend was a bit different. He was uncomfortable about phrasing his sentence and I said he was right, our friend was gay and that had been his long time partner, we had lunch with. The letter touched my heart- actually, it broke it. Not because he was gay, but because of the anguish that darling of a person was going through, wondering if those he considered close, would still accept him. My eyes are moist as I type these words for no human being should ever have to go through the trauma of hiding oneself and accepting oneself only if his/her loved ones accept him/her. I have told my children about him for they dote upon him and ought to know without being sheepish about it. It is okay and normal.


If you have been born on this planet, you are meant to be celebrated. How many of us introduce ourselves giving out our sexual preference? Our preference is our business entirely and need not be flashed across town but we don’t need to shy away or feel apologetic for who we are! Gays, lesbians, heterosexuals, transgender-all, are children of the same God and just because heterosexuals are a majority, the others are not aberrations- they are just different. Today, if I were asked if I had a problem if my son or daughter turned out to be homosexual, I would say no without feeling uncomfortable- you know why? Love and acceptance comes naturally if ignorance is out of the window. 


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I would like to add that gay parades always put me off because I belong to the old fashioned “no PDA please” lot of people, so it would put me off if it were heterosexuals on display too but I increasingly understand, that the need of such “in your face” parades arises out a need to be seen and accepted. If they didn’t do it, the majority would sweep them under the carpet and carry on as though they didn’t exist.

Last but not the least, article 377 made under the British rule in 1861 should be scrapped. The stress should be on mutual consent alone. Gay/Lesbian marriages should be made legal. Not because I have a friend who means the world to me but because everyone has a right to freedom, safety and security. Just like in heterosexual unions, so also in homosexual unions, there may be cases of domestic violence. How does one approach the law if the law sees your relationship as illegal in the first place?

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From my interactions with people, the myths I know exist in the minds of the ignorant Indian heterosexuals include:
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  •  Gays are paedophiles- They are not. Over 90 percent of paedophiles have been heterosexual. Also, while paedophiles, molest both girls and boys they are often repulsed by the adults of both sexes. 
  •  Gays/lesbians are mentally ill- This used to be common belief which is why even I learnt about them in my abnormal psychology class. It is a myth that has been busted by psychologists/psychiatrists the world over.
  •   People turn gay and lesbian out of curiosity and can become straight if conditioned otherwise- Awareness of one’s sexuality begins at the age of three. It reaffirms itself during adolescence. Sexual Orientation is still being worked out but people can figure this out as late as their forties and fifties according to a few studies. While bisexuality is still seen with a raised eyebrow, people are increasingly aware that certain people are wired in a certain way. Just as a heterosexual finds homosexuality repulsive to try, it is vice versa in the case of homosexuals. To each his own.
  •   If you are gay, we have to hide all males from your roving eye-you might even eye your dad’s butt- This is ridiculous and I am not even going to waste my time busting this myth. (People are kinder to lesbians though!!)


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All I have to say is that all of us have a right to live full lives irrespective of our colour, size, gender, race, class, caste, religion, sexual orientation, physical disability, mental disability or anything else. I reiterate, if we make it to this planet, we are meant to be celebrated no matter how different we are from one another. We need to think bigger and we need to keep our hearts open. We have to respect one another’s needs- Live and let live in the truest manner possible! 


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Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. What an apt title! Children of a lesser God indeed.. So, while Mark Medoff's chest swells with pride reading this take off on his best selling play.. Baba Ramdev won't be too pleased with your stand - given his claim about being able to HEAL homosexuality!!!
    Self appointed Godmen aside -
    Beautifully expressed.. Brutally Honest.. Brilliant read from the word go till the last adage! More power to you and eagerly awaiting you next!! ☺️

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  3. Bold and honest. Let there be no lesser mortals...

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Poorni...absolutely, equality cannot be and should not be selective!

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  4. Well presented write up about the children of the lesser God. Lots of social work to be accomplished in this area.

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    1. Thank you so much Dear R...acceptance and busting ignorance is what we need!

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