Today is a very important day for my country. It marks a milestone where homosexuality has been legally decriminalised after years. Spirits are high and the cheering hasn’t stopped for all obvious reasons. This is indeed a great leap forward given it was only a few years ago when it was strictly prohibited by law and deemed as a criminal offence. It’s a sign of acceptance and tolerance towards a different kind of love, one that has unfortunately had to always fight it out in various ways one can only imagine to be challenging in every possible way.
I personally don’t know any homosexuals from my own land, but having moved out of my country since the last few years gave me the opportunity to know quite a few of them of different nationalities I happened to meet through work. I can’t be more thankful to my stars for having come across them as it’s been nothing less than an eye-opening experience for me. It made me realise that I was so wired to thinking only in one way – that it’s always a man for a woman. Although not being ignorant about homosexuality, it wasn’t a very top of the mind thought either until I got to know some of them. The fact that their feelings towards the same gender aren’t what they opted for but developed just as normally as they do for straight people was not something that had even occured to me.
I’m not going to shy away from blaming my upbringing or my set up in every step of my life back home where exposure to any information about homosexuality was limited, dismissed or belittled in a manner that it was an abnormal phenomena and making fun of homosexuals was okay. Not knowing anyone personally of this nature had very little impact on what I thought or rather how I thought about this. It didn’t concern me at all as I was conditioned to think in this way. Little did I know that I was going to be in for a surprise about my lack of knowledge.
Over these last few years, with direct interactions with the ones I now know, I learnt each of their stories of firstly, being cognisant about their sexual orientation for themselves and secondly, coming out to their near and dear ones and the strain in relationships with families and close friends that it caused after doing so. Their struggle is real in every sense. Added to that if governments enforce laws against it, you can only imagine how this makes things worse. While support groups and activists have stood their ground and fought relentlessly in different parts of the world to make homosexuality legal, in the first place it’s appalling that we as a society make it so difficult for them to be accepted for who they are.
The change in law may not bring about the desired shift in the thought process so easily. In my opinion, that’s going to take very long. But what’s more important is that people don’t have to live in the fear of being treated as criminals anymore for who they choose to love. While other battles will still have to be fought, this big win will set the ball rolling towards progress and forward-thinking for the nation. A refreshing and well deserved one indeed. We’ll slowly wrap our heads around the fact that love knows no colour, caste, language or gender. Love is love.