We live in interesting times: just when you thought that the past was a thing of the, well, past, out comes P. P. Malhotra of the Home Ministry whining to the courts about something you’d think had been sorted out by now, viz. the sticky issue (heh heh heh) of blokes banging each other and lasses getting it on with other lasses. Some of P. P.’s concerns about such jolly deeds are that they are “against social order” and “may spread diseases”. They’re a funny lot, our ruling classes: the foetid sewer right by the office “may spread diseases” too, but it hasn’t attracted any censure that I know of, much less been outlawed, which is what this man, and half the nation with him, would have in store for homosexuals if he had his way. Clearly this cock-in-arse business is more worrying than a looming public health crisis. And probably rightly: whatever harrowing plague-like epidemic the drains may have visit upon us, they at least don’t stand out as a direct, insolent affront to thousands of years of unblemished, homo-free heritage.
It’s hit a nerve too. Amidst legitimate and heartening indignation, many of the pro-P. P. squad have publicly got their knickers in a twist and they won’t let you forget it. In the Hindu’s comments section, “SAM” weighs in with the gist of the argument in favour of locking the homos up:
“No one can approve gay in India. Let us respect our heritage and culture. Gay sex should be banned at any cost. We can not tolerate immoral activities. Character makes one and the nation proud. Will any parent agree their children for this. Parents, please spend time with your children and mould them in character.” – SAM, Posted on: Feb 23, 2012 at 17:13 IST
Coming, as all of this does, on the heels of Valentine’s Day – another one which ought to be even less controversial, but nevertheless has the country annually coughing up its worst, most stunted, most moralising insides – it raises at least one intriguing question: what is it about sex that bothers people so?
We do dirty dancing and a world-class line in innuendo, we do eunuchs and castrates of every stripe, we do comedy cross-dressing and nobody bats an eyelid. Practically every movie made in the country has a boy-girl thing to it, and what d’you suppose the boy and the girl do once the end-credits roll up and everyone goes home?
But bring up any talk of it, of wanting to do it with whomever you want however you want, and, suddenly, the natives start getting very nervous indeed.
Everybody bangs. Everybody fucks, makes love, has sex, shags, has it off and gets it on, engages in coitus, screws, sleeps with somebody, gains carnal knowledge, goes for nookie, has intercourse, and bonks till Kingdom Come. They may lie about it and pretend it never happened and be weighed down with shame the morning after if they’re wired that way, but bang they do. Some guys schtup the wimmins, some guys schtup guys, some gals do men, some gals do gals, some people do whatever happens to wander over their way. Some write about it, some sing about it, some play it out on stage. Some just do it.
They do it because, of all things, it’s the most natural thing to do.
This Malhotra, the Sri Ram Sene, the Guwahati police, and all those other kooks who try to shove their shoddy, ill-informed, insecure, narrow, and hostile morality down our collective throat have completely failed to grasp this: they have, in effect, declared war on simple reality.
In this fight that has broken out, I fervently hope that the artists, the writers, and the musicians of the country – all those who claim to stand for freedom of thought and expression – will pull against the retrograde forces that conspire to keep us penned in, using dogma, ignorance and the threat of violence as weapons.
Remember: a prudish BBC once kept Je T’aime (Moi Non Plus) off the airwaves. Remember also that David Bowie appearing in drag on the cover of the Man Who Sold the World worried enough people so that that sleeve was exiled for years. And that Walk on the Wild Side – a gem if ever there was one – had the bit about giving head taken out for American radio. It has ever been a game of challenging, of losing once, and of provoking again, pushing the line back a little farther with each iteration, of claiming a little more territory each time: each thrust making a little more space for those who just want to get on with it, doing the things they love with the men and women they love.
Sex is great. Keep it free.