Jun 29, 2015

Less clichés, please!

Many of you must have read the news story about the mother of an openly gay man in Mumbai placing a matrimonial add for a suitable groom for her son.

I happen to personally know the son, Harish Iyer, who also happens to be a fellow blogger at The Pregnant Thought. He is very well known as a gay rights advocate. But he is probably even better known as a victim of childhood sexual abuse by his uncle. Although he sometimes comes across as an outspoken individual with a borderline narcissistic personality, his work in the LGBT rights scene is admirable.

Although I haven’t interacted in person with the mother Mrs. Padma Iyer, I have seen on several occasions such as Gay Bombay Parent’s Meets, Pride marches, and of course on television. Again, she deserves to be applauded for her undevoted support to her son’s activism.

So when I heard about the story first, I honestly thought it was a publicity stunt. Why? Because I had just learned that a Brahmin woman put a newspaper advertisement to find a Brahmin groom for her son.

To put things in perspective, gay marriage is not legal in India. In fact, being gay and having a same-sex physical relationship is considered illegal alongside other forms of non-vaginal intercourse. So, honestly, it sounded like a thunderous slap on the faces of the Hindutva brigade.

So I was happy. Why not, I thought? After all, such a story will push LGBT rights issue further into the mainstream and enable dinner conversations about sexual orientation in conservative families.

Of course, I had to grapple with the dichotomy because of the forced conformism aspect—this was an ad for forging a modern/liberal relationship but playing by the rules of the traditional/conservative arranged marriage. Is this not conceding to the perceived fallacies of modern liberated relationships and accepting to the so-called advantages of arranged marriages, which seems to only survive because of the societal/peer pressure?

But then again, this was a joke, wasn’t it? So everything is cool.

Apparently not, thanks to this article.

I did not react well to this.

I did cringe at all the Tam-Bram stereotype references. Harish Iyer finds a suitable boy, and it all just ads up http://t.co/NlNtZihLiF

Let me make my stance clear. I am okay with marriage/civil parternships between any two adult individuals as long as the ceremony consolidates an already established friendship/relationship. I have recently come across a research paper stating that marriages are successful after two to four years of friendship. That seems just about right.

I also think that screening of potential partners by the mutual knowledge likes/dislikes, shared interests/hobbies, and pure physical attributes as inclusion criteria is also fine. But when you add religion/race/caste as exclusion criteria because your family is not okay, it is retrogressive.

This article, however, gives us the impression that not only were Harish and his mom serious about the ad, the entire affair is going to be a copy-paste of the straight Tam-Bram arranged marriage situation. I sincerely hope that this is just the journalist’s hyperbole of the associated clichés.

In the background, however, I hope that this works out of Harish and his groom/partner.

(Photo: from The Hindu)

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