Going Against Ignorance Sep02

Going Against Ignorance

It is a weird world we live in, it is a weird set of people whom we share this world and it is a weird set of philosophies that we live with. Sometimes you see a something that gives you renewed hope in humanity, but many a times it is exasperation and futility that digitally scroll in front of our eyes. We live on the third, blue planet from the Sun, which is a spec on the second arm of the small Milkyway Galaxy: A tiny spec in the vast cosmic ocean. But as Carl Sagan said: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself”. We are part of such a wondrous event, our cells are made of atoms that were made in super novas, our life a unique celebration of the coming together of what may have been multiple galaxies and multiple stars. We breathe the same air that passed through the lungs of every animal that lived before us, we share the same tree of life. ( Yes, I saw Cosmos: A Space Time Odessey )  When I learn about the cosmos, its power and what it is, I was filled with wonder. A wonder that I could not contain, a wonder that makes me feel like a child learning to walk, a wonder that makes me a voracious consumer of information, a wonder that truly makes me happy  for living here at this age. Where science is reaching a stage if infinite wonders. Science makes me feel wonderful. It tells me that I am awesome and I am a unique universe in myself. We read about anti-vaxxers, salt-in-sea-whale-spermers, moon-landing-hoaxers and suddenly our world appears less bright, our achievements seem less poignant, our lives become less meaningful, the wonders seems to shine less. You cannot know everything about everything in this world. It is a fact, we do not have the time in this world for that, yet. One life time is not enough to consume the knowledge that we have uncovered over the last few hundred years. This was the time of enlightenment. When the human race got out of the shackles of mythology and supernaturalism, to step into a world of knowledge, light, proofs and logic. Becoming rational being, applying ones own thought on topics, proving them wrong or supporting them with new evidence. The gaps where gods could hide became smaller, and smaller, to a point that any mathematician would say, this gaps wont exists for more time. Gods of weather are a thing of the past, gods for crops and harvests turned into fertilizers and farming. Gods that guarded the sea became GPS and Satellites. These were all attributed to god or gods. Their gods exist in mysteries and when there are no mysteries, they decide to call certain things mysteries and be happy in their claps and hymns. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Oh12ROTQCE] People do not believe in climate change, people do not believe in Big Bang, people do not believe in evolution. Things like these, don’t need belief. They are true and has evidence to prove it to be true. That is why we go Against Ignorance.   “Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious...

Physics, Biology, Chemistry and “Shastra” Sep02

Physics, Biology, Chemistry and “Shastra”

I am from a country which cleanly has a convoluted and mistaken idea about what is “Science”. It has all to do with what is being called as “Shastra”, a word that denotes “Science” among other things. But then when we consider all the “other things” that “Science” is involved  in India, I guess the actual Science takes a step back. Here, Palmistry is a Shastra. So is Panch-Pakshi Shastra ( it has something to do with some , “Astro Stellar force of an individual” , which I cant associate to any known form of force that human beings can physically conceive. ) Then there are Parrot toting astrologers, (another link ) they can predict future from the tarot cards picked up by parrots. In a country where cows are holy, I guess this is pretty common. Astrology is considered as a science. Even when educated people consider Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and Pluto ( is there Pluto ? ) to affect a man’s life. And also his wife. I just saw a book called “Biorhythms of the Natal Moon”, Biorhythm? Natal Moon? pseudo-science, meaningless words to impress the poor guy who sees such big words and falls for it. Here is the link to the book, and here is the description. The system is unfailing as sit is based on natural laws of five elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) combined with astro-stellar force of each individual.This can be successfully applied in all matters of life in the fields of Horary, Electional, Medical Astrology and especially on Natal  Astrology. What a load of nothing, reading all this is like listening to a Homeopathy doctor who keep on saying.. nothing. Pseudo-Science, Alternative Medicines. In this country, everything is a science, Vasthu Shastra ( It is the metaphysical plan of a building that incorporates the course of the heavenly bodies and supernatural forces. Meta physical plan of a building? Incorporate heavenly bodies and Supernatural forces? ), A  non-Indian “Shastra”, they call it “Pranic Healing® is a highly developed and tested system of energy energy medicine “. ( What is it? Pranic Healing® is applied on the bio-electromagnetic field known as the aura, or energy body, which is a mold or blueprint that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body. This energy body absorbs life energy and distributes it throughout the physical body, to the muscles, organs, glands, etc. Bio-electromagnetic field? and the rest of it? A load of mind boggling trash.). When all these are called Shastra, along with Physics, Chemistry and Biology, what we have done is create a pseudo sense of authenticity for the “Indian/Non-Indian Shastras”. This pseudo-authenticity is utilized by the “doctors/practitioners” to make money, and get themselves some respectability.  Common misconceptions about “Shastra” give rise to a new generation of people who believe all Shastras are authentic. If anyone has to know what Indian Shastra’s are, check up on Koka Shastra. The real scientists, try to explain Science in simple words, for the common man to understand. Stephen Hawking did not write “A Brief History of Time” to be read by scientists. Richard Dawkins explained evolutionary biology to the common man in The Blind Watchmaker, The Selfish Gene, The Greatest Show on Earth and the rest. How to understand real Science? The one that is said by Dawkins, Hawking, Weinberg makes science simple, they tell things in very simple language,  while all this other “Shastra” scientists make complicated big words to explain what they want to say. Making “Astro Stellar, Bio-electromagnetic, Biorhythm, Memory of Water ( Homeopathy ) etc, sound like things you should know about. But actually , they are collection of words are meaningless. Next time someone tells something like this, Ask them, what is that thing and can I see it and is there proof. I guess, you just got to look at the face of the “Scientist”. On a side note, I have not seen any reason why all the astrologers are not...

How to warn your child about this Irrational World Sep02

How to warn your child about this Irrational World

To my dearest daughter, Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me. Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know? How do we know, for instance, that the stars, which look like tiny pinpricks in the sky, are really huge balls of fire like the Sun and very far away? And how do we know that the Earth is a smaller ball whirling round one of those stars, the Sun? The answer to these questions is ‘evidence’. Sometimes evidence means actually seeing (or hearing, feeling, smelling….) that something is true. Astronauts have traveled far enough from the Earth to see with their own eyes that it is round. Sometimes our eyes need help. The ‘evening star’ looks like a bright twinkle in the sky but with a telescope you can see that it is a beautiful ball – the planet we call Venus. Something that you learn by direct seeing (or hearing or feeling…) is called an observation. Often evidence isn’t just observation on its own, but observation always lies at the back of it. If there’s been a murder, often nobody (except the murderer and the dead person!) actually observed it. But detectives can gather together lots of other observations which may all point towards a particular suspect. If a person’s fingerprints match those found on a dagger, this is evidence that he touched it. It doesn’t prove that he did the murder, but it can help when it’s joined up with lots of other evidence. Sometimes a detective can think about a whole lot of observations and suddenly realize that they all fall into place and make sense if so-and-so did the murder. Scientists – the specialists in discovering what is true about the world and the universe – often work like detectives. They make a guess (called a hypothesis) about what might be true. They then say to themselves: if that were really true, we ought to see so-and-so. This is called a prediction. For example, if the world is really round, we can predict that a traveler, going on and on in the same direction, should eventually find himself back where he started. When a doctor says that you have measles he doesn’t take one look at you and see measles. His first look gives him a hypothesis that you may have measles. Then he says to himself: if she really has measles, I ought to see… Then he runs through his list of predictions and tests them with his eyes (have you got spots?), his hands (is your forehead hot?), and his ears (does your chest wheeze in a measly way?). Only then does he make his decision and say, ‘I diagnose that the child has measles.’ Sometimes doctors need to do other tests like blood tests or X-rays, which help their eyes, hands and ears to make observations. The way scientists use evidence to learn about the world is much cleverer and more complicated than I can say in a short letter. But now I want to move on from evidence, which is a good reason for believing something, and warn you against three bad reasons for believing anything. They are called ‘tradition’, ‘authority’, and ‘revelation’. First, tradition. A few months ago, I went on television to have a discussion with about 50 children. These children were invited because they’d been brought up in lots of different religions. Some had been brought up as Christians, others as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs. The man with the microphone went from child to child, asking them what they believed. What they said shows up exactly what I mean by ‘tradition’. Their beliefs turned out to have no connection with evidence. They just trotted out the beliefs of their parents and grandparents, which, in turn, were not based upon evidence either. They said...

Battling Ignorance on the Frontlines Jun11

Battling Ignorance on the Frontlines

  The constitution of this nation states that it is every citizen’s duty to develop scientific temper. Which means that it is every citizen’s duty to pursue the truth using the scientific method, empirically and to make it known to everyone if there is any kind of foul play involved. When a purported ‘miracle’ was investigated by Sanal Edamaruku and shown to be a health hazard to all the people consuming ‘holy water’ that was dripping from a statue in Navi Mumbai because the source of the water was a drainage pipe with stagnant water that had alarmingly high amounts of E.coli in it, he was instantly taken on by the community that had been marketing this incident as a miracle. They hired goons and thugs to threaten him, they filed multiple legal cases against him under the blasphemy law of the country: IPC 295A, an archaic colonial era law that was used to prevent anyone from expressing an opinion contrary to the ruling elite is used nowadays to strong-arm people who have opinions contrary to a majority group, whether it be political, religious or ideological. Sanal was forced to leave the country, for two major reasons, Firstly, because he faced immediate arrest for doing his duty as a citizen of this nation, by exercising and developing ‘scientific temper’ and his skepticism and may even have saved lives, considering that people were going to the extent of drinking this ‘holy water’. Secondly, because his life as well as the lives of his family were being threatened by goons hired by this fanatic organization. I implore you to consider this scenario, consider the fact that in a country of 1.23 billion people, regardless of what one’s opinion is, it will invariably offend at least someone, then does is really make sense to even consider legislatively protecting someone whose views are so feeble that they get offended by the truth? Is it right to force a person who did nothing but ask the organization involved to apologize for perpetrating this hoax (endangering lives in the process) into a self imposed exile? Is it even sane for us to continue with a vestigial law that is a direct reminder of the colonial era when we were subjected to horrendous discrimination based on caste, creed and even skin colour? Now, I dont know if Ive made a convincing argument for the scenario and thus convinced you to see things as I do, but if you have, then I hope that adding a couple of key facts about this story will not change anything. The organisations involved in this particular incident were fanatical Catholic organisations namely the Catholic Secular Forum, the Association of Concerned Catholics and the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum . I had the honour of meeting Sanal and spending some time with him a while back, a man who had made it his life’s mission to combat superstition and dangerous dogma. He has debunked a number of fraudulent claims and exposed a number of mystics who constantly used to take advantage of the faithful. His life was once threatened by one such charlatan on live television, stating that the man could kill Sanal using his chants alone. The standoff went on with the mystic chanting and Sanal smirking as the country watched that show live. Evidently the supernatural didnt get the memo about helping this mystic out as he made a complete fool of himself. He is the President of the Indian Rationalist Association and currently operates from Helsinki via teleconferencing sessions because of his exile. The point now however is, should we really put up with this nonsense in the name of being politically correct at times and non confrontational at other times when the risks are so high. Is’nt it always better to question one’s motives and be skeptical about everything around us? Question everything, find answers that are sufficiently reasonable and battle...

COMING OUT TO MY MOTHER Jun02

COMING OUT TO MY MOTHER

She was in the kitchen. “Amma, can you come to my room now? I need to tell you something.” “Yes, what is so secret that you want me to come to your room?” “You will understand. I don’t want Achchan to know. Come fast!” Also I figured, kitchen could be quite hazardous for what I was about to do. Once we got it into my room, I closed the door. She found it strange that I’m behaving unusual and was giving a half laugh. “Amma, you may not like what I’m going to say now.” “Is it about your job?” “No.. something personal.” “A love affair?” “No Amma. I’m afraid when you hear it, you may even cry. But don’t make a big scene and let father know.” Those smiles faded away. “Yes tell me, I won’t cry.” “I know you will, but even then I have to say this to you. But before that let me ask you, are you stiff on wanting grandchildren?” “Well.. There is no tenacity that I want grandchildren.” “Then what about my marriage?” “Yes, on that I’m. You need to get married.” “Well.. that’s the problem. I don’t want to get married.. I’m gay.” She drew back in shock. I could see from her face that she didn’t expect this at all. But then she found words to say, “You could be just feeling that. It must be nothing.” “No Amma, this is not just a feeling. This is not something I’m doing on an impulse. I’ve been thinking about how to tell this to you for a long time.” “So what are you? A man or a woman?” “I’m still a man. But it’s that I don’t feel attraction towards gals. I feel that only to guys.” “Is it because of watching all those Friends and Will & Grace?” “No Amma. I had known about this for long time before watching all those.” “When did you start to feel like this?” “Well.. way before my teenage. But that time, I used to think that I could be the only one having this kind of feeling. But when I got internet, I realized that I’m not the only one and that I’m called gay.” “So is there someone?” “No.” “Are you sure marriage is not at all an option?” “Amma even if I do marry a gal, I will not be able to fulfil all her desires. And that is just unfair to her, don’t you think so? Since Indians are not open to talk about homosexuality, many guys will be afraid to tell to their parents. So they agree for the marriage and then without the knowledge of their wives, they continue sleeping with men. I don’t want to betray someone like that. I can never imagine doing that to a person knowingly. There are many instances of failed marriages because of this. Not getting married is much better than ending up in divorce, right?” “Yeah, that’s true.” “You must be remembering that scene from Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd.3 where the husband confesses to his wife that he is gay.” I wanted her to know that this i-am-so-cool-about-being-gay was not something that I achieved overnight. “I have always shared everything with you and Achchan. But this is something I couldn’t, even though I wanted to. When I began to feel attraction towards men, I was first confused. I didn’t want to feel that way at all. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me because my friends were crazy about gals and I wasn’t. There were times when I had been in serious depression. You and Achchan must not have noticed it. But it took me several years to finally accept the fact that what I’m feeling is completely natural.” I then asked, “Did you ever feel even the slightest of indication that I could be gay?” “No..” There was a pause....

Deepak and Don Jun02

Deepak and Don

A conservative society often thinks that same-gender commitment is not possible on a long term; they insist that the government and any religious organizations must not perform witness or bless the rights that unite two individuals of the same gender. We are taught to believe that marriage has always, in any civilizations, been only between a woman and a man. Let us not dig into the history of homosexuality when we have living proofs of partners of same sex. Meet Mr: Deepak(a Keralite settled in the UK) and his partner Don(an US citizen) who shared their tale of love and successful living together. “How did you guys meet and was it a love at first sight?” Deepak-“I met Don at a bear club in the US, where we exchanged sight and it clicked, LOL. We spoke for a while and found the spark in minds of each other which we took home, cherished for a long and here we are” Don-“Exactly, I found Deepak as a genuine personality; his cute smile added to my attachment for him”. The truth that gays are humans who can cherish love in its pure form is vivid here beyond the prevailing myth that homosexual relations don’t last for a long. The lives of these two men prove that commitment between two persons of the same sex is not inherently varied from the same between individuals of opposite sexes.   When people claim the right to marry, their sex or sexuality is not intrinsic to that right, although social prejudice makes it appear so and hence Don adds “We don’t find our relation as a gay relation, being gay is just one dimension of us and our relation encompasses the whole of us, two’. “Do you find same sex relations...

Misunderstood Homophobes May02

Misunderstood Homophobes

Being a rational -not a known giver of shits- Indian teenager, I sincerely believe that homophobes are mistreated everywhere. I mean, think about those poor people, often criticized for being complete jerks, assholes and other -not so cool- adjectives. What have they done to deserve something like this!? Since when did being stupid become a crime? To be honest, it takes a lot of guts to come out and admit the fact that you are a complete Idiot. I mean, I am an 18 year old Indian student, acing all my subjects, mugging up stuff and vomiting it on my answer papers three times a year and I have not given a single clue to any of my peers or my teachers or my relatives that I am an exceptional Idiot! So, dear Homophobes, I respect the fact that you are not pusillanimous. Homophobes are like misunderstood sharks to be honest. They are just trying to help you. According to them, it is obvious that you choose to hang out with people belonging to your own gender because of the fact that you are not really good at scoring points with the opposite gender. Due to the immense disappointment, you tend to give up any hopes of dating someone “for real” and prefer to stick with other “losers” who can’t score points against the opposite gender. This theory is as accurate as it can get. Take a look at Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen DeGeneres, they are like the biggest examples of being ugly and incapable of dating. They just wish to give you dating lessons so that you stick with the “Laws of nature”. Such nice people. Recently, I was having a discussion with one of my friends regarding this topic and voila! He turned out to be a homophobe! Can you believe this? – I have a friend, who is of my age, living in the same year, same century, same world as I am, yet he is so vintage! Man! he could give instagram some major inferiority complex with his retro-ness. He hates homosexuals. He hates them because he hates Justin Bieber. He hates them because he finds it disgusting when dudes kiss other dudes. He hates them because hot chicks are dating other hot chicks and he is still single. He hates them with a lot of pain and anger. I felt bad for him; but being a very genuine asshole and extremely good at it, I could not feel his feels. I chose to enlighten him with some universal truths instead.Universal truth no. 1 – “Being gay has got nothing to do with being a faggot” (which was shamelessly plagiarized of course) Universal truth no. 2 – “Stop watching gay porn and stop stalking the gay couple living next door” (for the humour)Universal truth no. 3 – “Even if those chicks were straight, you would still be single. You are ugly, just deal with it” (Wiser words were never spoken before)After putting some serious thought into it, for about 5 seconds, he replied “Are you gay bro?” I could see the genuine concern in his voice and that made me happy about the fact that he would still be my friend regardless of my sexual orientation. I was able to enlighten him and he was willing to learn, I did not wish to continue the topic anymore because I figured out that deep down inside, he did not give a shit about gender, love or sexuality. He was worried about bigger problems like getting a real girlfriend and breaking up with his right hand. People are rarely thinking on their own. They are motivated to think freely, but with the society’s permission. There are no homophobes, there are just people who are ignorant, people who prefer playing it safe. People like my friend, people who are essentially nice, but are blinded by the society’s so-called “law of nature”. It is the duty of marginally smarter beings like us, to remind them that there is no “law...

HE, HIM AND THEM May02

HE, HIM AND THEM

Any gay individual would long to be in love with a man and to have a relationship.  Sanjay, who hails from Kerala and lives in Bengaluru, wanted to be with a man and to start a family together ever since had been in terms with his sexuality and accepted himself about a decade ago. Yes! You heard it ‘Family’ comprising of same sex partners and lets read on why Sanjay is open about his Relationship with his lover, Sudhir. “How strong were you through out as a gay before you did end up in a relation?” Sanjay-“I had always been a strong person; it never rankled me when I was made fun by my friends for being different. I was not too bothered with the arguments the straight world came up with, ‘Two men cannot be a family, ‘without kids a family will not be complete’ etc: Their arguments, indeed, made me stronger to emerge as a man who loves another man”. “Can you brief your experience from being single to be a committed partner?” Sanjay- “In my pursuit to have a family I have had my share of short and long term relationships, dates and Finally I could  find the right person. Sudhir too has gone through several ups and downs in his life and has finally found his love in me. We both are very different persons; he loves reading and I hate books. Sudhir likes sports and I don’t even know who hold the latest cricket titles. ‘Opposites attract’ did prove for us though not in terms of gender and we are a family for almost two years as of now”. “Do you find yourselves different from heterosexual couple, in any means?” Sanjay-“Oh Yes. We don’t live for the sake of...

Being Gay 2 Apr05

Being Gay 2

Let me begin this by showing a picture of the text message that I got after writing my first post on Against Ignorance I never told the person who sent me these messages about my sexuality yet after reading the article, that’s what he had to say. Being gay is not bad or dark, like the movie sets of “Twilight” or “Sleepy Hollow”.  It’s about love. It’s about seeing a person’s true self. It’s about your friends making you feel “No matter what, I will be there for you”.  I don’t know how this works but from what I have experienced, if you belong to any of LGB or T, magically people start to love you more. (Well, they have their own reasons. No matter how greek god-ish you look, you are no longer a threat to another guy! Amen!) People start to love you. Things doesn’t just stop there, they will let you know that you are loved. I think that is more important. Showing the true affection what you feel for others. All of a sudden you are their valued possession. There will always be someone around you. People start to raise their voices to defend you. I’ll tell you something which happened to me. My best friend is a proper traditional Rajasthani Rajput guy, 2 years elder than me. He has only seen the concept of homosexuality in American movies. He was the first person whom I came out to during my under graduation days. It was a telephonic conversation and when I told him that I was gay, he didn’t speak for about 30 seconds. Pure silence. After that he asked me have I tried changing myself. He even tried to find me a girlfriend in college so that I’ll...

Am I Gay? Apr02

Am I Gay?

There comes a point in lives of every queer individual where she/he needs to accept her/his sexual orientation though one need not come out regarding this. Yes, coming in terms with one’ own sexuality stayed as a herculean task for me too, especially being born as the eldest son in a traditional Syrian Christian family. Though I was quite vivid on the fact that am attracted only to chiseled male faces and toned chests of them, I was totally unaware of terms like gay, coming out etc: . For me life as a teenager was all engaged with various activities that kept me restricted from the jocund of cute girls. Though I didn’t even know any gay people in person till I was 21, I always carried the fear of denial that took me farther away from the answer I was seeking. Internet brought me many friends with the same genes and I could learn more about the alternate sexuality from various sources, but then as told homosexuality was a matter of secret to every gay man I came across, who all were hiding their true face from their wives and leading a dual life. Even, I had not much worries and had plan to get married and live on with family. As years passed and my age surged to late twenties I did not only realize that testosterone ooze in me only when males pass by but also my sexual quotient for women was null. It was then I met a few gay persons who were living single and was Open about what they are. They could give me an idea on the natural default to which we all must return at some stage and how impossible it is to be miserable forever, how natural it is to us and it’s not a choice! Yes, the blockage of...

Being Gay Apr02

Being Gay

My name is Gopu. I am doing my masters in Human genetics and molecular biology. I wanted to do masters in social work but my heart beats for DNA. Well, who said that I can’t be a “social work-ing geneticist” ? I hate the colour pink, I’m a blue/red guy. Dog person. Scared of heights, but did bungie jumping once. Yea, I like to live dangerously. I love dancing, sipping coffee, soaking in the sun, riding motorbikes, being with kids, watching gore stupid horror movies. Madhavikutty is my favorite author. I love songs by ABBA and Boney M. I have won many awards for my acting skills during my school days. During my under graduation, I discovered a new strain of bacteria “Bacillus foraminis” that has the potential of causing food poisoning. Oh! and I am Gay. If you are one of those stereotypical Indian citizens who are bothered about a person’s sex life and orientation than understanding the fact that there is more to a person than his sexual preference, then I guess you are not interested in this article anymore. All my achievements are irrelevant, just because I am not into women. Being gay in India is dramatic. Here you are always expected to be this hyper – masculine, testosterone – oozing super male who can hit sixes in cricket and with women at the same time. If you are anything less than this, then you do not qualify to be an Indian “Mard” . Here, people raise their children just to mate with the opposite gender and populate the streets. Understanding one’s self and accepting one’s own sexuality is itself a huge thing that requires courage. When you feel that you are not normal, you cannot tell about the way you...

IT’S NOT A CHOICE Feb05

IT’S NOT A CHOICE

Many a times I have asked myself what if I were not born this way, what if I had only the usual feelings that a guy has to another. My life would have been different for sure, I would not have undergone many chapters of confusion and pain. I would not have felt the need to suppress my emotions. I would not have had to choose living a closeted life. In short, I could have been living a life much free of insecurities and confusions. During my school days, there was this boy whom I used to find really weird. He always behaved as if he were a girl. I found his feminine conducts not befitting to a male. I guess he was ignored by most of the boys and he had only girls for company. I too used to think low of him, used to look at him with contempt, even finding difficult to give a smile. My eight year old mind didn’t want to understand him. Many years later, I realized I’m gay and the path towards that realization was very trying. I found myself asking questions unable to find answers. I felt like I was the only one feeling this attraction towards men and I couldn’t find anyone to ask for help. Then through the internet I understood there are many who feel the same way and I also became aware that most of the people do not see gays as equal to them, often gays are looked down upon. I read many instances of homophobic attacks. I felt this was all very unfair. That’s when my mind spoke to me, “Now how do you feel when you are on the receiving side of this hatred and contempt!” I then realised...

Superiorly Stupid Question Feb02

Superiorly Stupid Question

Superiorly stupid questions I come across as a LGBT rights supporter with answers and explanations. Ever since I started supporting rights of LGBTs, I have been confronted with quite a few exceedingly hilarious questions. 1. What???!! There are people ‘like this’ in Kerala also? You mean people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity than the traditionally defined ones? Yes. The fact that they are not visible in our society shows how non-progressive and non-inclusive we happen to be. Nothing to be proud of. 2. Oh God!! You have gay friends?? I have never seen one in my life. Too bad. Chances are you never will. They’re too awesome to be friends with you. Homosexuals are human. You haven’t seen humans? Oh right! You only see heterosexuals. Please tell me how you have this sexual orientation-filter? 3. I saw your photograph where you hold the “I am gay” sign. Will you be arrested by the police? We enjoy the freedom of speech and expression under article 19 of the constitution. (I think you should be stripped of your citizenship rights for asking this question. But ya. Freedom of speech & expression= freedom to ask stupid questions too.) 4. If a person is openly homosexual and found in sharing a private space with a person of the same gender, can’t he/she be arrested? Here’s the explanation. (Read in Malayalam film star Suresh Gopi’s voice) IPC section 377. Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and also be liable to fine Interpretation: Though devised to criminalize and prevent homosexual sex, the ambit of section 377 extends to any sexual union involving penile insertion. Thus, even consensual heterosexual acts such as oral sex and anal penetration may be punishable under this law. Anyone could be arrested. Not just homosexuals. This is why you should join us in the effort to rid our nation of this outdated law that is incompatible with fundamental rights and lacks logic in any shape, size or form. (Just remember that) 5. Homosexuals and transgenders are different? I thought they were all the same. Every person is unique and has a unique gender identity and sexuality. Sexuality and gender roles are not monolithic. You and your best friend won’t have identical sexual interests and preferences (even if both of you are heterosexual and of the same gender). Just broaden this spectrum a little more and you will be able to see lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders- everyone. So yes. We are all the same. We are all...

I AM PROUD TO SAY, MY GRANDSON IS GAY Jan02

I AM PROUD TO SAY, MY GRANDSON IS GAY

It was the eve of Delhi Queer Pride parade, 2010. My home seemed like a madhouse. I live in a joint family and that night, we were double the number with my cousins, aunts and uncles who I had invited for a family dinner. I had intimated everyone well in advance and had plans to talk to them about gender and sexuality, and how these come to be experienced in a Punjabi middle class family. Most of the male relatives took a lot of time to come to terms with my sexuality. But it was worth all the effort. It has been four years since I came out to my mom. I was 17 then. The time since then has seen a series of battles with ignorance and hatred; and now, I can finally see glimmers of realization and love. Back in 2007, when I came out to my mom, I knew that I had to exit the narrow and dark roads, and open myself to a massive exploration of my life. But having seen my heroes fight for their rights at the forefront over the years, I became determined. All those activists, writers, filmmakers, lawyers and many other everyday heroes, gave and continue to give strength and messages of hope to middle class guys like me who often come from very conservative households. I live in Kashmeri Gate, in old Delhi, among about 20-25 other joint families that have managed to survive over the years. People tend to get deceived by the appearance of the place and think it’s a slum, when it in fact one of the more economically developed places in old Delhi. Another advantage is its proximity to the metro service. Which takes me back to 29th November, 2010, the day of the Pride. My brother was away on a road trip with his girlfriend so we didn’t have our car. My mother suggested we take the metro. I looked at the painted banners and placards we were carrying for the parade, and then looked at her in open-mouthed disbelief. ‘So what?’ she said. ‘They are going to stare right? Let them. For years I have seen people struggling to change our society for the better and, like you told me, this is no small cause.’ Left astonished, I simply nodded and said ‘yes Mom, you’re absolutely right’. It was a little difficult for my grandmother as she is really old, but on the eve of the parade, I remember listening to her talk to the rest of the family about the relevance of participating in the Pride parade. I can’t describe the joy I felt, at witnessing such a revolutionary and drastic change that night in my own family. It makes me think about how far we have come in these four years. Earlier, on hearing homophobic comments, I would argue for myself, but now, my family steps ahead. It is they who support me and defend my right to live the way I want to; they understand my sexuality and slowly and steadily, they are coming to terms with it. A lot was decided that night itself—who were the courageous ones, or shall I say the activist kind in my family, who would come forward and participate at the Pride event the next day. Upon which, my grandmother was disappointed to see that it was only my mom and my cousins and herself.  My brother wanted to come but he couldn’t because he wanted to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday in the hills. So, I was okay with that.  Besides, I still remember that moment in 2009, when the Delhi High court had passed the landmark judgment; we had assembled at Jantar Mantar after a year to celebrate one year and my brother came there and supported me. My grandmother is an old but energetic and fierce woman. She has taught me a great...

EQUAL RIGHTS FOR TRANSGENDERS Oct02

EQUAL RIGHTS FOR TRANSGENDERS

The honorable Supreme Court on its landmark judgement (dated 15/04/14)on the rights of Transgender community has directed the federal and state governments to bring welfare for the third gender people including education, healthcare and employment opportunities and to aid them overcome economic and and social challenges. The community  with souls of one gender trapped in body of the opposite, had always been marginalised for being born the way they are and in their attempts to train and catch up their bodies with their actual mind they find themselves as the third gender who establish a rigid symbiosis with their minds and bodies. Yes, when it comes to gender the transgenders break the societal rule being male or female and hence they are found as a threat by the same patriarchy, the very existence of which depends of every individuals’ compliance  which denies presence of them in politics, government or in the public. Moreover, if they live visible and Open , in most cases, they are tagged as perverts and are hated and hurt.   I had only seen those media  representations in which transgenders were portrayed as over-sexualized species, sex workers or drag queens and I hence carried the wrong idea that due to the visible presence of the Hijra individuals  at the queer pride marches,  quite an orthodox state like Kerala finds gay men too as trans persons. My pseudo notion towards the third gender individuals was jolted when I had met them in real life and spend time with. I had always been told that men don’t cry, and I didn’t at least for things that directly affected me, which proved wrong when I confronted with them in person and to know the shocking lives they pass through counterbalancing their dual identities.  I felt extremely shameful for myself for knowing only a little about them before and my hate for them vanished in a jiffy as soon as I realised that I was wholly wrong. The ignorant ones easy fall into the trap of such stereotyping and often miss to grasp that they too do things like every one else does. Hardly few knows the truth that Trans people have a gender(male, female or inter sex  and an orientation(homo, hetero or bi) as we are persons who inhabit only the conventional gender roles. Their identity, about which they are not ambiguous , leaves them with much more emotional and mental stress than we do. They deserve respect for the fact that each person’ bond with her/his body is unique and in doing what works to adapt their bodies for their true minds . We must not understand them  from their performances for earnings but as real people and lets have enough empathy to be conscious to not find their attire as cross-dressing but just their way of wearing clothes. When it is quite vivid that these fellow humans of alternate gender do not have proper place in the society for not being real male or female,  let us remember that there are many ways to be HUMAN than being only Man or Woman and hope that the law stay enough strong ,following and with justice to the verdict,  to enable the officials to integrate transgenders into the mainstream society and may be even a level beyond so as to amend 377 in near...

Oh Right, Gay Rights Aug02

Oh Right, Gay Rights

It is a funny thing, the human intellect. The same person who would discuss Non Newtonian Fluids with you, in the same breath would go all conspiratorial and say ” Pssst, I think he is gay”. It does put things into perspective. We live in an age were sexual orientation or sexual preferences get as much screen time as real actual news and real actual science. How many movie stars were purported to be gay? That in itself tells us that people are really interested in what other people (whom they don’t even know) do in their sexual lives. Sit back for a moment. Just think, just imagine what exactly may be going through a person’s mind when they talk about the sexual orientation of another person. I have been asked “can you imagine him putting his thing into him”.  No I can’t. More to the point, I do not want to imagine where they or whoever puts their whatever.  But by that theory, conversely, if such a thought is used to judge a gay couple, does that mean that you can imagine what people whom you know who are straight do with their genitalia?  How perverted can you be, if you need to imagine where people put their sexual organs so that you can approve of another person’s relationship.  This need for people to pry into another person’s sexuality brings out the most contemptible aspect of man. A need to create a society were everyone has to approve of another person’s most private aspect of life. A need for people to conform to the narrow-mindedness of a set of people who put themselves on pedestals fuelled by the imagined power of religion or politics. I have heard from my friends who are gay about how...

HUMANISTS IN FORT KOCHI Jul02

HUMANISTS IN FORT KOCHI

The echoes are still there, when we called out for supporters of Humanity and Equal Rights and Kochi responded like never before. More than 40 people joined up to rock Fort Kochi for an impromptu...

Never Too Much Love Jun10

Never Too Much Love

If we are honest with our selves, with  the deepest parts of our soul, we instinctually know that sexuality is not a neat concept with a stamp and seal of FOREVER on it.  It isn’t simply being attracted to one person, one gender, one expression of love or passion or about sex.  It is many things to each person as well as changeable in both definition and expression.  Humans  try and make sense of love and matters of the heart by making everyone follow the same rules whether imposed by society, a culture, or worse – a religion.   Supposedly life won’t be nearly as messy/chaotic/real/shocking when we all follow the same rules of attraction. In reality, though, it is messier.   Yes less messy on the outside – the mask we wear to make others happy or to follow the rules and all act the same – but how very messy it is on the inside of each person forced into a role they can’t authentically  play.   Our hearts ache for the true path of love and  we are bruised so deeply when teased, ignored and humiliated by others for our true selves.    We deeply hurt when people malign that which they don’t understand.  We grow up afraid to  show who we really want and how chaotic our own thoughts about acceptance become when we can’t openly and freely follow love where it takes us and who it takes us to.  Living in Fear is a messy, joy-killing and heart damaging life that leaves NO survivors!!! Of my 9 children more than one of my sweet babies identifies with LGBT. And yet, they don’t. They don’t because they refuse to label themselves ONE thing when they have the capacity to be...

We are what we are. Can we change? Sep02

We are what we are. Can we change?

  We are the social animals, but incidentally, every weak species in the planet are social. The weak find strength in numbers. The numbers ensure one thing, at times of distress, the chances of survival from within a group is more than the chances of survival when alone.A pack of deer, say a hundred strong, when hunted by Lions, might lose one or two, which is acceptable. Ninety eight survived, which is 98% survival rate. If it was a five strong pack, death of one reduces the survival rate to 80%. So the group has more survival rate, the weak lives together, the strong hunts alone.So , is being social a sign of strength? Or is it a show of weakness?Debatable.Being social has it’s uses. It gives a bigger target to the hunters, it gives a better survival chance to the weak.So us being social, is just a compensation for our weakness, because when our great grand fathers were faced with some really strong challenge like a mammoth or sabretooth tiger, they had to stand together, some one with a spear might get lucky. People folked around heroes. The weaker accumulated around the comparatively stronger. Societies arose, civilisations came together, space science came to being, earth became a global city.But while, we pride about being social, and social being something greater than being an animal, is there truly any difference?Calling ourselves greater than animals, calling ourselves civilised, calling ourselves the masters of all things on earth. Isn’t all this a little premature for a species that came to existence just about 300,000 years ago? A species which is physically unable to survive the nature, if left alone. As compared to the animals that are ready to hunt for food from the point of their birth?Our species was compromised in physical abilities which augmented the mental capabilities, the process of coming to being of all spcies on earth is a compromise between different abilities.If humans had greater immunity, that we won’t be falling sick under any circumstance, it might mean lesser response to digestive absorption process.We are developers of technology, so far reaching that we can go to planets and come back. Animals can’t do that, but a cheetah can run faster, a lion can hunt better, a dog can smell better, birds can fly, and a bat can hear subsonic. We created technology to overcome all these. Does it make us better? Or are we trying to catch up with natural abilities if other species?But whatever the technology be, whatever our achievements be. Our society is just as animal as it is in the wild.The strong preys on the weak. The tiger hunts the deer. The powerful humans ‘hunt’ the weaker. The corporates and political barons take away the freedom of the weak. Deers can run from a tiger, but the weaker humans are left with no other option than lie back and die against the massive strength of the powerful.A tiger protects it’s turf from another, they fight is with the natural weapons they got. Sharp teeth and nails. Strength of their legs and strength of their muscles. Unless severely deprived of food, the animal kingdom extols the fight between equals. While among as humans, the stronger just exterminated the weak. Totally.This is what civilization has given us. A sense of non existent freedom, where the powerful rules and the weak listens, sometimes the weak grows to power, or the powerful falls, but the equations of power remains the same. It is still death for the weak. Is this the true meaning of being civilized? Where everything that is being done is mirroring the animal world. Can’t we care? Can’t a human being show concern to his fellow being? Or is selfishness the key to survival? What happened to co existence and helping others? What happened to giving a shoulder if support to the ones in need? What...