I go to a fitness centre in Bangalore for aerobics and zumba classes. Our zumba instructor Vikas, is a homosexual. This doesn’t affect me in any way, but it serves a purpose to my story. The dance classes are usually attended by women only.
Vikas always ends every class with us dancing to the song ‘Lovely’ from ‘Happy New Year’. Keeping aside the feminist issues relating to item songs which objectify and degrade women, we basically love this part ; each of us secretly thinking we’re as hot as Deepika in our own special way. Vikas leads the way with all the swaying and thrusting, and does it fabulously.
A few days ago, a couple of men entered the class and stood in a corner, pretending to be deciding which dumbbells to lift. Vikas knew what they were upto; their not-so-subtle sniggering said it all. He was their source of entertainment; someone to mocked at. He tried his best to ignore them but his eyes kept drifting. He was lost between being himself and trying to mask his humiliation, and in the end, skipped the ‘Lovely’ routine.
I was seething within. It just wasn’t fair. Vikas was made to feel like less of a man merely because of his sexual orientation. There are so many things wrong with our country, and this is another one of them. We’ll do anything to suppress someone else’s way of life if it’s not something we consider ‘normal’.
The whole concept of what makes a ‘man’ is completely flawed in India. A gay man is chastised because of his mannerisms but a man who can get his wife to shut up with a glare and put her ‘in her place’ is respected.
It’s high time we change the way we measure a nation’s progress, from things like GDP growth and standard of living, to its people’s ability to accept and nurture the human spirit.
But the real question remains- Will Vikas live to see a day when he can truly dance like no one’s watching?
By Sangeetha Bhaskaran
(Names of people in the story have been changed)
Image Source: flickr.com