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India’s National Secret: Why Gay Men End Up Marrying Women

BCCI Chief N Srinivasan coerces gay son to marry a woman to uphold family name and continue the lineage! 

ashwin srinivasan (right), son of n srinivasan

Ashwin Srinivasan (right), son of N Srinivasan

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A Delhi doctor, Priya Vedi, commits suicide in a hotel room owing to an unconsummated marriage of five years with an in-the-closet husband!

priya vedi

Priya Vedi, an AIIMS doctor who committed suicide due to an unconsummated and tortured marriage to a gay man

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Why are such incidents happening?

Ever wondered why such instances stare you in the face ever-so-often? Why their presence seems to disturb some deep-seated element in your consciousness? Why the unreported cases continue to speak silently through the ones splattered across tabloids, exhorting you to divert your attention to the larger problem underlying these unfortunate events?

Suggested read: ICC Chief N Srinivasan accused of forcing gay son to marry a girl

Because we live in a patriarchal society that continues to view the world in black and white through the singular lens of a monolithic dominant cultural script called heterosexuality. Not only does this lens distort the way homosexuality is viewed, perceived, and consequently, morphed into a demon to be vanquished but it also doubles up as an astute mechanism of reinforcing heterosexuality as the norm! The hegemonic nature of the heteronormativity, in turn, continues to keep the patriarchal matrices of society in place. And it is in this vicious and inherently self-serving schema of things that a normative discourse becomes the dominant dialogue vis-à-vis which all non-heteronormative categories, identities, and lifestyles (including homosexuality) are discussed, critiqued, and consequently, rejected.

marriage is a right

Marriage is a human right, not a heterosexual privilege

Image source

In India, this isn’t quite news. Our intolerant patriarchal society not only criminalizes homosexuality but forces the LGBT community into marriages that upkeep the heteronormative nature of the socio-cultural ethos. This is evinced by cases like that of BCCI Chief N Srinivasan’s attempts to impose a ‘normal’ marriage upon his gay son and coerce him to drop his same-sex relationship and not harbor any hopes of a same-sex marriage, and the case of Priya Vedi – a clear prototype of a brokeback marriage that took a disastrous turn!

Who, exactly, is to blame for such instances?

The society, which (as explained above) perpetuates the inequalities reinforced by a heterosexual privilege?

Or the legal paraphernalia which has criminalized homosexuality?

And what, exactly, is to be done in such situations?

Suggested read: Goa Government seeks to ‘cure’ LGBT youth of their affliction!

Is it easy to change the views of the society?

Sure, it isn’t as simplistic as looking at the problem as a conflict of rights and interests. Both individuals trapped in a forced marriage have a right to express and exercise their sexual orientation. However, it is the intolerance of society toward homosexuality (viewed as an aberration) that causes people to not only hide their sexuality but also trap themselves and another human being in a loveless marriage. It is within the same nexus of hegemonic discourses that another dominant cultural script (that of monogamy) peeks around from the ‘patriarchal’ corners to assert that a choice of seeking such fulfillment outside the ambit of marriage (even when it is a forced one) is not ‘allowed.’ My contestation is homosexuality isn’t a crime – then why the punishment? To the man who cannot come out owing to the social stigma attached to who he really is!! To the woman, who knowingly or worse, without any knowledge of his reality, is wedded to him!! And to the families, who in no way, benefit out of the arrangement they have conveniently imposed upon the two individuals!

Gay marriage

Gay marriage

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Of course, there are cases where a neat and convenient arrangement works out – like that of Shanti and Laxman (names changed), who have tied the knot and keep this ‘unacceptable’ part of their identities a secret. Shanti is a lesbian, with a stable partner while Laxman is gay and currently single. They also hope to have children in the future, probably through surrogacy, in order to blend seamlessly into the ‘acceptable’ social coda. There are certain others who have come out of the closet and sought acceptance for being who they are.

But my problem with this denouement of events in India is a simple question – WHY?

What does the law say?

Why does the LGBT community have to fight for rights that are as normal as those of any other being on the planet? Why is it that Section 377 has been repealed by the Supreme Court when the move by Delhi High Court was a new and refreshing lease of life in the stifled environs to which the LGBT community is relegated? Why is it that the LGBT community, in choosing to exercise their ‘rights,’ are made pariahs? And why is that the only avenue ‘allowed’ them for repatriation and reintegration into the society is compliance to the dominant cultural script of heteronormativity?

Suggested read: Malayali same-sex marriage in California offers hope to homophobic India

What is the way forward?

Is it so difficult to denaturalize and deconstruct the hegemonic heteronormative discourse which dictates the intelligible sexes and ‘permitted’ identities? Is it so difficult to weed out the whole rigid framework of sexuality and refute fixed boundaries in favor of what is only natural – diverse sexualities, fluid relations, and abstracted identities? Is it too much to hope for a progressive step that shall merely be ‘natural’ in that it does away with normative gender and sex expectations and revel in the new-found acceptance of a dynamic, interactive society with more fluid categories of identity?

Not so much, if you ask me. Whilst I know education is a big, stumbling block in the vision I propound, I believe there are other potent tools for achieving this rather-daunting mission of revolutionizing the way social constructs of sexuality are seen and enforced. The way the binary constitution of social constructs in the realm can be deconstructed is by inducing a state of flux for historical and social power relations to change. This, in turn, has to be brought about by changing the public sensibilities toward homosexuality and other ‘perceived aberrations’ by transforming the experience and understanding of sexuality and subjectivity vis-à-vis a manipulation of cultural artifacts and performances. For instance, by injecting this secret sensibility into the mass market by portraying gender and sexuality in movies through a different prism altogether. Of course, it is a herculean task, given that the process of deconstructing and transcending the current dominant ethos is subject to the same conditions and mechanisms that it seeks to undo. But it isn’t impossible.

While education is the most potent tool that can be suitably deployed to contend with the omnipresent hegemonic discourse, the masses (meaning those that are outside the reach of ‘progressionist education models or those subscribing to the patriarchal ideology and its dictates) can be taught the ‘fatal’ outcomes of creating regulatory spaces within their ‘patriarchal heteronormative’ ethos by a twisted re-enactment of the same norms that constitute them. It is only through a dissection that the society will come to understand that not only can a single modality represent the identity of all subjects within a group but that in ensuring such compliance, perforce, they engender a highly unfair form of inequality bomb that is fast-filling in with explosive content. And if not diffused at the right time, it shall tick off and destroy all!

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Article Name
India's National Secret: Why Gay Men End Up Marrying Women
Why gay men marry in India and their plight after marriage is treated as a national secret - it is time homosexuality is brought out into the open.
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."