They say love is blind, that it knows no boundaries. But society is rather strange. It’s willing to accept certain kinds of love, only so long as it’s familiar with them. If an individual were even remotely different, society questions, even condemns that individual’s way of life. Society is quick to judge and label even before it’s understood what it’s judging and labelling. The LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community knows this all too well.
Society tends to confine the idea of gender to biological sex, and romantic relationships to ‘straight’ male and female liaisons. It’s largely been unaccepting of anything that ‘strays from the norm’. Truth is, the masculine and the feminine are becoming increasingly fluid constructs, and we’re now an evolving multi-gender society, trying to understand the various shades of genders that live amongst us.
In an uplifting Ted Talk This is what LGBT Life is Like Around the World, San Francisco-based lesbian couple Jenni Chang and Lisa Dazols share the happy instances of ‘coming out’ that they’ve documented from around the world. While the talk shows that individuals are increasingly comfortable disclosing their queer identities, it also shows that their loved ones find it hard to accept them as they are.
While some are still trying to grapple with the very notion of LGBTQ, many are already allies to the community’s cause. Contrary to what we might assume, there are many individuals, even families, who go above and beyond expectations to ally with their queer loved ones. Soulveda lists some of the happy stories of queer individuals who’re supported by their spouses, family and friends, be it in embodying their queer identities or embracing queer relationships.
A mother’s support
Harish Iyer is a well-known Mumbai-based social and LGBT rights activist. He’s made his story widely known; his initially angry and disappointed mother came around to not only accept but actively support her son’s gay orientation. The best part of this story is perhaps the fact that his mother placed a matrimonial advertisement in the newspapers for him, looking for a groom. “Seeking 25-40, well-placed, animal loving, vegetarian groom for my son (36, 5’11”) who works with an NGO; caste no bar (though Iyer preferred),” the advertisement said. Today, his mother stands by his side even as he participates in queer protests and movements.
The masculine and the feminine are becoming increasingly fluid constructs, and we’re now an evolving multi-gender society, trying to understand the various shades of genders that live amongst us.
A wife’s love
The story of New York-based journalist Tiq Milan is nothing short of a fairy tale. Tiq, a transgender man, met his cis gender wife Kim on facebook. In a spirited Ted Talk, the couple narrates the story of how Tiq revealing his transgender identity became a strong foundation for an honest and trusting relationship. Kim is a woman, who’s always identified herself as female, the same sex she was assigned at birth. When Tiq told her about his ‘queer’ identity, unbound by genders as her mindset was, Kim found no reason to turn him down. In about three months, the two were married, and as Kim herself put it in the Talk, Tiq is totally her ‘ideal’.
A father’s acceptance
More than 15 years had passed since Jason Om, an Australian broadcast media journalist, revealed his gay orientation to his father. When the Australian government ran the Same Sex Marriage Survey in 2017, Jason didn’t think his father would vote ‘Yes’. But after he had said no to marrying a girl, his father had come around to accepting his son’s orientation. When a pleasantly surprised Jason asked him what changed his mind into voting ‘Yes’, his father simply replied, “Times have changed.” Jason, who was afraid his father wouldn’t attend a gay wedding, is now free to marry a man, with his father’s full support.
A family’s open-mindedness
Kerala-based media professional and LGBT activist Vihaan Peethambar was born a female, but was often called a ‘tomboy’ by her family and friends. When ‘she’ came out as a transman, at the age of 24, to her family and close friends, no one had any shocks or objections regarding his queer identity. His mother and sisters were very understanding, even to the point of suggesting sex reassignment surgery in order to make him feel more at ease with his body. With their unflinching support and devoted love, Vihaan also applied for formal identification as a transman.