Mine were shocked, intrigued and extremely curious. My mother shuddered when she tried to imagine a boy kiss another. She tried to reason with me saying that this was not the law of nature because it would be impossible to reproduce and grow as a species, had it been. I could see her, struggling to understand, to picture a world beyond her beliefs and understandings.
To every person who has had to/shall have to come out to the world and to your family members, I cannot even imagine the amount of anxiety and pain you go through. And I shall not claim to.
But I will say that the unacceptance that you are facing from your parents is not their fault.
You see, before you, the world had been deviced in a way that chided any human who tread out of the lines drawn by hungry hegemonists who refused to allow any facet of life trickle out of their control.
In films, advertisements and popular culture, the portrayal of men, women and love have been entirely manipulated.
Heteronormativity is predominant in India as every gay man in films is a maniac who goes around hitting on every man in the vicinity. Similarly, straight men are always uncomfortable and awkward when they hug or touch their male friends. Homosexuality has been used to add a comic relief to obnoxious films for a half a decade, now. Films like Bhool Bhulaiya, Student of the Year, Kal ho na ho, Pyar kiya toh darna kya, Dostana have used LQBTQ characters as clowns.Films like Fire, My brother Nikhil, Shubh Mangal Zyada Sabhdhan are rare but precious.
After generations of Indians have been fed misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and patriarchy through every media possible, can you really expect them to know better? You are the change. But to your parents, you seem like an anomaly, a farce in the face of a ‘normal’ upbringing.
Everyday you watch your mother do all the housework by herself. You see her ask for permission to spend the money she earned. You catch your uncle cringing at a transwoman selling rice crisps in the train. This happens every moment, every day.
I am not asking you to be okay with it. I am asking you to have patience.
It is not easy to unlearn and outgrow years of manipulation and misinformation. And these are not one or two but generations after generation of people. Start by showing your parents films like Shubh Mangal Zyada Sabhdhan, Kapoor And Sons, Ek Ladki ko dekha toh Aisa Laga. Once they are familiar with the concept, move on to Call me by your name or Blue is the warmest colour. Give them time to realise that love should not have any boundaries.
I made my parents watch Samantoral(a bengali movie about a trans woman) and tried to educate them about the anatomy of mind and body of trans people. It was difficult for them to change their perspectives but they did. There are several movies that break gender stereotypes like ‘Ki and Ka’ that I have made my father watch. Now I see him slowly trying to unlearn patriarchy as he makes my mother breakfast before she leaves for work.
I know this sounds ridiculously considerate. And there will be instances where no amount of exposure or explanation shall succeed in purging people of the narrow-mindedness they have been living with. But there is so much more you can do instead of giving up.
Rise to a level where you have the power to change the face of all kinds of media. Become the face of a revolution. These things are easier said than done.
If we can’t change our elders, we can always mould young minds that shall believe in us. Explain to your brothers and sisters why you believe in what you believe. Nobody is too young to learn about love.
Everyday I ponder and tell myself to keep hope. Because history has to taught us to believe that in the end, love always wins.