No Choice But To Live In Disguise

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Himanshi Aggarwal
Aspiring Journalist

The father of modern computing and artificial intelligence, a code-breaker, a mathematician and a war hero Alan Turing who cracked Nazi code and reduced World War II by two years faced prosecution and ill-treatment due to his homosexuality in 1952 after his sexual relationship was revealed with a 19-year-old policeman. He preferred Chemical Castration to Prison when convicted of gross indecency. The man was injected with oestrogen to neuter his libido. The man killed himself with cyanide poison in 1954. Later, in 2009, the UK Government apologized to the act of indecency after a prolonged campaign and Turing was granted a royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth in 2013. Now the great mathematician will be the new face on Bank of England’s new 50-pound note by end of 2021.

Such loathsome acts of hatred and bigotry should wrench one’s heart after knowing how humans can be ruthless to other humans. The inhumane murder of George Floyd reminds us of the racial discrimination which continues to our societies. The discrimination, hatred, brutality and isolation handled by the members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI+) people on the grounds of their sexuality is apathetic

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According to research, the LGBTQ youth face more psychiatric disparities associated with an increased level of societal stigma, prejudices, victimization and rejection by the society and their families resulted in higher suicidal rates, mental disorders and drug abuse. A stigma is concomitant to their sexuality to either isolate them from their heterosexual peers or given the treatments to ‘cure disease’ of being homosexual.

All the factors, if combined, can open a room of increased risk for dangerous physical and mental diseases. According to Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 young gay and bisexual men accounted for 70% of HIV diagnoses among youth.

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According to reports released by NCBI, nearly 32% to 50% of transgender people attempt suicide or harm themselves across the countries due to unfair treatment, hounding, refutation, viciousness, harassment by intimate partners, police callousness and discernment across the globe. The data also showed that nearly 62% of the LGBTQ people are suffering from family problems which is a lack of acceptance and exclusion. Apart from this, various other issues including gender dysphoria, child sexual abuse, early discontinuation of schooling, forced marriages are very profound in their lives while they got refrained from their livelihood opportunities. More than 56% have discontinued their schooling at an early age, nearly 54% are drug-addicted.

The celebration of homosexuality was unimaginable before the revolutionary Stonewell riots took place in New York in June of 1969 when the familiar patrons of the bar were enough of those frequent raids by police and showed unexpected resilience. The month of June is now celebrated as the pride month to commemorate the victory which helped in accelerating the gay rights movements. But such movements were first initiated in 1924 with the formation of The Society for Human Rights in Chicago and Mattachine Society in Los Angeles in 1950 which promoted and fought for legal protection and rights of the gay people. Later, in 1965, Franklin Kameny, a Harvard University doctorate, tried to bring wakefulness to the issues related to gay-right by organizing demonstrations in front of the White House.

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A month after the riots ended, Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist who is also known as the mother of Pride, paved a way to the country’s first public march where the sexual minorities proudly and publicly claimed their identities while celebrating a weeklong series of events called The Christopher Street Liberation Day March. A year later, she organized the event again to commemorate the first anniversary of the Christopher Street Liberation Day march and now the annual LGBTQ pride month is held every June. Hence, New York’s Stonewall has become an iconic mark that influenced people nationally and internationally to feel proud of their sexual identity.

Many have questioned the need for a Pride Month and the tremendous spread of rainbow over June. Some opponents also questioned the sexuality of the heterosexuals supporting homosexuals. But one needs to understand that humans don’t need to become animals to support animals, upper caste people don’t need to become lower caste to support them, likewise, heterosexuals do not need to change his sexuality to support other homosexuals.

These entertaining and rainbow filled walks are the charm of the Pride Month held for but not restricted to the LGBTQ people. The flag waves and parades are to celebrate the diversity, individualism, love and affirmations which welcome all the sections of the society and remind us of the new commitments to the remaining fight of equality. The stereotypic mindset and the stigma attached to the word “Pride” is broken down in various heads through this parade.

It brought the consideration of community onto the papers but still, we need to haul so long as only a little progress is made for acceptance and equality in the society. The gap between legal inclusion and social acceptance has been narrowed but not eliminated. Though it was a turning point for the recognition of the community, 51 years were not enough to jettison the stereotypes. The LGBTQ community members are still attacked in multiple ways.

Countless attempts have been made to cure homosexuality and modify behavior through prayers and counseling. Religious beliefs are used as a major apparatus in shaping the mind-set of a society which further becomes the reason to oppose the social inclusion of homosexual people. When homosexuality is seen as sinful behavior in any religion, the homophobia, imprinted by negative moral education automatically follows.

The LGBTQ community members are often censured for their sexuality and seen as abnormal personalities as they vary in their sexual orientation. They do not fit into the classification by the society into standards of males and females.

Different sections of society react differently to homosexuality, some nations like Africa, Asia, Latin America still have taboo in expressing their sexual identity. People, instead of talking about the community, start purifying themselves as they have come across an aberrant being.

Apart from this, inclusivity at workplaces is the primacy for every worker but it is still a dream for homosexual people. Though many organizations are working towards their acceptance and inclusivity to create a safer workplace, that is insufficient to break the stigma as the behavior of their cisgender peers is associated with their sexual orientation.

Various discrepancies have been documented in many countries in the suicide rate of homosexuals and heterosexuals. LGBTQ adolescents are three times more likely to attempt suicide. Sexual orientation has become an attractive issue but barely covered by the mainstream media due to homophobia generated by our conservative societies. The biggest problem faced by them is the ill-treatment at health stations where they are not addressed in the first place, and if addressed, various general physicians refer them to mental healers considering the problem in mind and avoiding their sexual identity.

The success stories of LGBTQ people cannot be ignored. Sally Ride, who is a Presidential Medal Of Freedom honouree was first female American Astronaut who later came as a Lesbian; Democrat Tammy Baldwin becomes the first LGBTQ member who got elected to the U.S. Senate, who recently called for a national LGBTQ Equality Day. Not only this, but Latin America has come a long way in directing its progressive actions towards the community. Argentina has become the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage however several activists are still fighting for equal rights of the LGBTQ people.

A recent study of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago showed that “overwhelmingly, societies have become more accepting of homosexual behavior”. It graded 31 countries on their behavior towards the LGBTQ community while groping the trends over two decades between 1988 and 2008. It found the intense acceptance and tolerance among educated youth who barely attended any religious services, and among the residents of big and developed cities whereas women also showed growth though to a lesser extent.

The long battle for legal inclusion of the LGBTQ people has ended in India with the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap Section 377 in 2018, but the bigger battle for their acceptance is still ongoing as homophobia continues to exist. Despite the achievements and the growth of this community, there exists a parallel world where homosexuality is still a punishable offense. Where many countries have made benchmark progress, torture, brutality, imprisonment, exclusion continue to exist in a dozen more nations. Some gradual changes have been observed in some exceptional urban areas mostly in Western countries where people have liberal attitudes to some extent.

Image Source – People Matters

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