Last week, this writer witnessed a verbal altercation between a father and his 20 year old daughter. The topic so heatedly debated? Homosexuality.
Needless to say, Uncle was against it.
If there’s one thing more taboo than sex in a Tamil household, it is probably being gay. While more parents are open to this new culture, a majority of Tamil parents from the baby boomer generation are aghast at the thought of their children ‘turning’ gay. An aunt once confided in this writer that she would commit suicide if any of her children came out as gay. Melodrama aside, we wonder why parents so vehemently push this idea away? Wouldn’t you want your children to be happy, instead of following the norm?
The answer is simple. South Asians in general are exceedingly concerned about the way society perceives them. The norms in India are a testament to this. “Cover yourself, put on makeup, don’t cut your hair like a boy, what will people think?” The reason behind this glorification of social standing could be due to the fact that they themselves are the nosiest bunch of people, always asking where this person is working, or when that person is getting married.
Hence it is no surprise that many Tamil homosexual men and women simply cannot come out of the closet. There have been cases of homosexual people married off by the family in hopes that their new spouse will ‘cure’ them.
Tamil films haven’t been very helpful either. There is almost no positive representation of homosexual people. The few gay characters we see on screen are either comedic pieces, or appear sex starved. The actors portraying gay characters are made to prance around with absurdly dramatic gestures and dialogue.
In the latest adult horror flick, Irrutu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu, a homosexual character is told that gay encounters don’t count as a loss of virginity. To add insult to injury, a straight man claims that that the safety of men in public spaces is threatened by gay men.
My Son is Gay is an upcoming Tamil movie about a homosexual man coming out to his family. Directed by Lokesh Kumar, this movie has been screened at numerous film festivals, including the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival. My Son is Gay also bagged the award for best film at the Indian World Film Festival 2018. The movie stars Anupama Kumar, Ashwinjith and Abhishek Joseph George.
According to Lokesh, it was an immensely difficult task to convince mainstream actors to take up this role. “We have children in school, what will their peers and teachers say?” was the response he received.
While we were unable to acquire more information on the release of this movie, rest assured that we will be the first to inform you if it does hit the screens here in Malaysia.
But we remain hopeful. If an adult Tamil movie with a well known lead actor can be released and receive moderately positive reviews, perhaps someday we will see Tamil movies depict other forms of love, those that aren’t confined to the heteronormative ideas ingrained in the Tamil audience’s heads. It would quash all notions that being gay solely focuses around having sex, sex and more sex.
It was very disconcerting to listen to the aforementioned uncle’s argument, “If you are born a man, you need to love a woman, you should not pretend to be a woman and love another man, cheh!” There were so many things wrong with this statement that this writer was lost for words. His daughter, however, was relentless and fought tooth and nail to dispel the myths surrounding the LGBTQ community.
The one solace this writer found on that day was the fact that ALL the youngsters in the room, all millenials, agreed that being gay is normal, and is nothing to be ashamed about. Uncle’s generation may never change their views. But our generation has a whole new set of views, and helming the crusade into the future, that’s all that matters. After all, how can love be wrong?