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Pride & Prejudice - Queerphobia and it’s Implications

Queerphobia: Queerphobia or Homophobia) is prejudice plus power; anyone of any sexual orientation or identity can have/exhibit sexuality-based prejudice, but in North America (and worldwide), heterosexual people have the institutional power, therefore Queerphobia is a systemized discrimination or antagonism directed against queer/LGBTQAIP+ persons. Queerphobia and heterosexism are rooted in a desire to maintain heteronormativity, an investment in and assumption about the alignment of birth-assigned gender category, gender identity, and sexuality as well as the belief that heterosexuality is the only norm for sexual orientation. Queerphobia, as well as the heternormative structures from which it extends, obscures the reality of the fluidity of sexual identity, sexual/romantic attraction, and their complex relationship to gender, and it marginalizes the identities and experiences of persons whose sexuality and orientations do not align with heterosexuality or prescriptive heteronormativity.

A global survey conducted between April and May of 2021, with a sample of 500 individuals in India reported that 3% of the Indian population identifies as homosexual (gay/lesbian), 9% identifies as bisexual, and 1% identity as pansexual and 2% identity as asexual. 500 might not be a big number to work with as a representative however in a population like India's, if even in the 500 there is the 3%, 9%, and 2% observable data, then one can imagine how many queer folks are there in our society and that how much they are impacted daily by all the queerphobia or hate from the ignorant groups of people.

In the official demographic report that was submitted to the court in 2012, there were about 2.5 million gay people recorded in India. Bearing in mind these stats come from individuals who have self-declared to the ministry of health in India. This means that there must be a higher number of people who have disclosed their identity since many members of the LGBTQ community live in the closet for the fear of discrimination. This discrimination is rampant due to queerphobia/homophobia or discomfort towards queer identities.

Homosexuality had always existed. Through ancient times, mythologies, old texts, art, or any form of documentation, you will always find stories that go against heteronormative behaviour. To a certain point in time, it was normal and accepted, however, post-colonial era, homosexuality became a crime in India because the British and their Christian outlook deemed it to be wrong and offensive. Since then just like the caste divide, sexuality and gender identities have been differentiated on what's "normal" and "abnormal".

Bearing in mind, "normal" is only a practice that is followed by the majority. Child marriage is also not a healthy practice for the girls involved, especially when the age gap between the bride and groom is more. Nonetheless, it's a practice that still happens (even against the law) because that's the "norm" accepted by most. What majoritarian practices exist to become the norm while the minorities or fringes are seen as abnormal or faulty. These are biased outlooks because most of them come from prejudices held or taught where not many actively try to learn more about it or find a reason for such beliefs. It's easier to stick to a common structure and not take up the mantle of change because it would mean that you'd have to face a lot of realities you were ignorant of and may also be treated like the fringe, which is a lot to deal with.

All of these have always led to many queerphobic remarks and actions throughout society in a variable manner. Movies and tv shows will introduce a queer characters only to ridicule them. People believe it to be a choice and a phase that one can come out of leading to harmful acts of abuse (sexual and/or emotional), medications that might be harmful to the body or conversion therapy, which is banned but is still carried out by many against the consent of the individual.

Other forms of homophobia can be seen in,

  • Outing an individual without their consent or knowledge,

  • Making fun of someone's lifestyle choices, clothing, partner or even the choice to put on make-up,

  • Physically hurting someone because their sexuality or gender is not understood,

  • Ostracizing them from school/college or community and treating them as a threat to others,

  • Not providing queer individuals with equal work or pay opportunities,

  • Not allowing them to use the washroom of the gender they identify with or not having unisex washrooms in prominent public spaces

  • Having very less coverage of news about the problems the LGBTQAI+ community faces in any form of news media, etc

There are many other forms of subtle homophobia where people comment/ridicule someone's masculinity or femininity if it doesn't match the stereotypical standards, commenting on the body, facial features etc and then passing them off as a joke without realising the kind of damage it does.

Even though Article 377 has given individuals the legal safety to be who they are, this doesn't stop people from viewing queer individuals as subhumans and being treated unjustly. Recently, two policemen were suspended in Rajasthan after it was found out that they are gay. The news came out in June 2022. Even now homophobia is so rampant, which is why people still prefer to stay in the closet than risk their life and career.

What do you think about how little our society cares for those they don't want to learn about or accept? As if being queer makes an individual a different human, away from the common society. All education, movies, books, and conversations won't matter unless the stronger practice is taken, which is also why representation matters so much.

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