Sec 377 is just a matter of orientation

Posted: July 3, 2009 in gay rights, Section 377

The hysteria that has been generated by the Delhi High Court ruling since yesterday, especially by the media, really makes one wonder. Why is everyone on overdrive whether for or against – media, activists, politicians and even self styled babas. I mean, this is just the high court ruling. This will definitely go to the Supreme Court so I think everyone who’s predicting the opening of closets should wait a while.
Something tells me this is going to generate a lot of heat (pardon the pun), and while I am not taking sides, I think this battle is going to last a while. The politicians, the nutcases and religious leaders are going to make a killing (again, excuse the pun) over this. There’s going to be near-hysteria of the kind that was generated when V.P. Singh played his Mandal card. Mark my words.
But let me tell you an interesting story about a guy who I knew from the time I was maybe 10 or 12 years old. He lived on the floor above my uncle’s place, in Mumbai. We’ll call him J.
Whenever I visited Mumbai as a kid, we would usually stay at my uncle’s place. This boy would usually be in and out of my uncle’s house. My cousin and I would laugh about his effeminate ways. You couldn’t blame us because we were at that age and this guy lisped and would quite often strike that ‘classic’ feminine pose, one hand on his hip and the other on his lip, but we never teased him, because basically he was a nice kid, gentle and very affectionate.
Anyway we all grew up and went our ways. Many years later, when I visited Mumbai one day, as I was climbing up the stairs to my uncle’s place, this rather stunning looking girl in heels and mini skirt, and smelling really sexy, sashayed past me. I looked back admiringly at her long legs, because they were – in one word – stunning!
When I entered my uncle’s place I asked my cousin whether he had acquired new neighbours. We were almost the same age so discussed things that boys usually do. When he replied in the negative, I told him about the stunning woman I had passed on the staircase. This guy just went hysterical. I mean he was laughing like a hyena, hitting the sofa till he had tears rolling down. I couldn’t understand what the guy was going ballistic about.
According to him, the stunner I passed on the staircase was none other than our good friend J and he was now Ms J once the sun set. Here’s where the story turned really interesting. It seems J was very interested in doing hotel management, but his people wouldn’t give him the money.
First he asked, then he demanded and finally he pleaded, but his family refused to relent. They thought he was a wastrel. The funny thing was that he had a sister, who wore even shorter skirts and did things most respectable girls wouldn’t do even with their eyes closed! But she wasn’t told a thing.
Anyway, so when J’s plea was rejected for the umpteenth time with the comment, that if he wanted to follow his dream, he would have to do it on his own he did a crazy thing. He took a bus to Goa.
He was back a week later, by flight, with even more money than was required for the course. I listened to my cousin in incredulous silence as he narrated this tale. But that still didn’t explain J’s cross-dressing ways. And this is the best part. It seems he never forgave his family for what they did to him and dressed up that way to humiliate them. Worse, he walked the streets and scandalized the people who knew him and his family.
A few days later, one evening, as I was waiting for a bus outside Churchgate station, I saw J walking towards me. Everyone was sniggering at him and he was looking at me! When I caught his eye I think he realized that I was mortified by the sight of him in heels and skirt. He walked past me without a look. I never saw him again.
Years later, I learnt that he had stopped cross-dressing because his family finally accepted him the way he was. Not only did J do hotel management, he made a success of it after he went to Delhi and worked at one of Delhi’s finest five-star hotels. He also lived with a powerful right-wing politician for quite a few years.
So in all the talk about Section 377, I think we should remember, that someone’s ‘orientation’ still gives him or her the right to lead a normal life. And it’s the babas and the politicians that need to get a reality check for their state of mind.

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