Making Room for Gay in Gayatri: Hinduism and Homosexuality
When it comes to matters of sexuality, the Hindu Dharma has a wonderful opportunity to show the world its true enlightened thinking.
When it comes to matters of sexuality, especially homosexuality, the Hindu Dharma has a wonderful opportunity to show the world its true enlightened thinking. Some faiths are bound by the black and white dicta of their scriptures. For so many, no matter how much they want to be opening and affirming they are held back by verses they believe come straight from the lips of God. The Dharma (when expressed from its summit) allows for many instruments of knowledge to define Truth; including our scriptures, of course, but also the words of our modern day saints and sages, science and our own sense of reason and personal experiences. It is my understanding that much of contemporary Hinduism's (and India’s) less than progressive attitude towards homosexuality stems from the dismal legacy of Moghul and British rule over 800 years. I have read accounts of greater tolerance and appreciation in ancient times. We must reclaim this. I have heard great ignorance in the form of proclamations of fundamentalist Christian preachers that no civilization in recorded history has accepted homosexuality as a social convention.
As an actor I have had the gift of many more friendships in the gay community than perhaps most straight people are afforded. Yes, I've seen plenty of examples of what I consider adharmic activity (promiscuity, hedonism, etc.), just as I've seen in the hetero world. But I've also seen long-term loving, monogamous relationships that are inspirational.
One problem with this conversation is that we concentrate too much on the "sex" in homosexual. A committed, loving relationship between two people is way much more than the one percent of the time they are actually engaged in sexual activity.
Indian culture is quite passionate about family stability and the rather strict mores that accompany life in that paradigm. I certainly sympathize with parents who would go through the challenges of realizing they have a gay son or daughter. But we know from way too much experience that trying to force someone into a gender role that he or she cannot fulfill is damaging to everyone involved. It is much wiser for parents to accept the situation and encourage them to lead a healthy life with the hopes of finding a partner and creating a committed relationship. Much of the self destructive behavior that is so often found in the gay community comes not from the sexual orientation itself but things like being ostracized from friends, family and religious communities.