Have you seen the recent hit movie “Kapoor and Sons”? It is winning accolades for its sensitive portrayal of how a gay man struggles to come out to his family, and what happens when the news comes out. If you were like me, you might have wondered what it would have taken the perfect son portrayed by Fawad Khan to play the act of the ideal conforming son, while keeping a long-term relationship secret. All those video chats and conversations with his partner, while pretending that nothing is happening. I imagine what it must cost for the person to be like that, and then I wonder how it must be for any LGBT person to hide themselves in the workplace and be the ‘perfect colleague’
It isn’t difficult to see why somebody would want to keep things secret. Even in Kapoor & Sons, despite everything being ‘out’, there is barely a scene with the partner and he doesn’t fit in the family portrait, even though the other son’s girlfriend is happily integrated into the family.
For most of us, we weren’t taught in our growing years that there is a natural variation amongst human beings in our gender and our sexuality. Words like ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ were taboo and we used them as if they were scandalous, and worse, used derogatory words to hide our ignorance, if not our prejudice. Lack of knowledge and a hostile legal system have only added to the problem. I am sure many of us have witnessed (if not actually did it) a person being called out for standing in a supposed ‘feminine’ posture, or for not wearing what we thought was appropriate for what we saw as their gender?
No wonder people with gender and sexuality differences then learn to be quiet about it and not speak about it, and take on all that extra pressure of having to keep up a façade.
We are now in a much more open space, we would like to think. Speaking of Kapoor and Sons again, I am sure many of you, like me, only experienced a warm acceptance when the ‘news’ broke. We would like to think we are not hostile towards any gender or sexuality, but we do tend to carry our biases and apprehensions into the workplace, even if it is in the small and everyday details – like making fun of a movie star’s gender non-conformance, or saying “That’s so gay!” for something we find silly, or passing on a ‘joke’ about Gayle and his incredible performance that unfortunately belittles both queer people and sexual assault.
As they say, everything is a joke till somebody gets hurt, and here, we often don’t even realize what we might be saying or doing is hurtful to somebody around us. You might say because you didn’t know – that the person didn’t tell you or you couldn’t see it. Let’s face it: You wouldn’t have imagined Fawad Khan’s character was queer till it hit you – similarly, there are very likely queer people amongst us, and why would they tell someone they think is hostile? And if the person was more visible in their difference, wouldn’t it have been so much harder in the face of these unintended hostilities?
For a society , it becomes important because all individuals are important. We want to create a space where everyone is welcome, no matter the person’s race, gender, sexuality, religion, caste, age or abilities. We want a world where we are more aware of the differences that exist or could possibly exist amongst us, and act accordingly so that more of us can be comfortable, and just be ourselves.
Kapoor and Sons has started a conversation all across India – let’s be more aware and make sure we are conscious of being as open and inclusive as we want the world we want to be!
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.