When it comes to talking about sexuality and gender, Indian society always manages to stay away from the discussion. Be it the oppressive section 377 or the lack of ‘out of the closet’ public figure-our society makes homosexuality is swept under the carpet.
Karan Johar has been the talk of the town because of his biography ‘An Unsuitable Boy’. He had shared how he was traumatised and hurt by rumours about him and Shah Rukh. The director has been mocking homosexuality through his movies for a long period of time. In a bid to protect his sexual preference, he made sure that his declaration was seated in caution. The director didn’t really ‘come out of the closet’, but implied the same with his words.
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist said, “When a person of Karan’s stature says he is scared of going to prison, that shows how marginalised the LGBTQ community in India is. The law itself doesn’t protect them, which is against the constitution. When Karan Johar is scared, one can only imagine what people from the lower strata must face. When a significant section of a community – or, for that matter, even a single reason – does not feel they are protected by the law, it is very sad. That being said, I believe this will encourage people to come out because they will see that a person of this stature has taken the courage to speak about their sexual orientation, despite knowing how people can react”.
KJo wrote on his book, “Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don’t need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won’t only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this. Which is why I Karan Johar will not say the three words that possibly everybody knows about me (sic)”.
Just a moment, did he just say that he can be jailed for ‘spelling it out’? Well, he’s not at all correct. You can’t be arrested for coming out. That’s a steep misinterpretation of the law. The thing is, Section 377 doesn’t criminalize sexuality, it criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature”, arguably including homosexual acts. Now, let’s start with his movies. The character Kanta Ben in Kal Ho Na Ho suffered contractions each time she encountered SRK and Saif. In Dostana, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham, pretended to be gay despite being straight. Coming to his another latest film – Student of the Year, Rishi Kapoor played a closeted gay principal of a boarding school. Rishi’s character use to creep on the hot coach, fantasize about killing the coach’s wife, and crushing on his hot, not-yet-legal, male students.
When personalities like Ellen Degeneres and George Michael came out of the closet, they made it a point to escort and shape the identity of the LGBT community in US and UK. What Karan needs to understand here is that with great power comes great responsibility. Which means- he has a certain responsibility towards the very community he has been mocking in most of his movies.
The LGBTQ community have been fighting for their rights tooth and nail for over three decades. The people from the community have been called criminals and pervert. The absence of a popular, non-conformist icon in India only makes the fight longer and harder. The absence of a powerful voice contributes to homosexuality becoming a silent topic in our society.
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