Faith without Fear: Being Indian & Gay in South Africa

Indian gay rights activists shout slogans during a protest against a Supreme Court verdict that upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Hundreds of gay rights activists gathered in India's capital and other cities across the country on Sunday to protest a decision by India's top court to uphold a law that criminalizes gay sex. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

42_440x300Frankly, I am not bothered by how you (the gay hater/basher) perceives my orientation. The straight person may well have a totally different appreciation of me and I am cool with that.

This is just the message I want to get across to some desi’s here in SA.

Six years ago, 23rd April, 2009 my inbox was overwhelmed with emails relating to the marriage of a homosexual couple in Durban.  Some were in support of their bold move and some used their special day to further harass the gay South African Indian community.

Coming out to the world left me with some family/friends disowning me. I was no longer Halaal.

To this day – on one hand – I can still count the number of family members that speak to me and those that have caution in their voice. No longer simply a debated concept, same-sex marriage is fast becoming a reality in the Indian diaspora society today—both in India and the West.

Hundreds of gay and lesbian Indian couples are literally “tying the knot” in wedding ceremonies both public and private, with family approval or not, and increasingly with the blessings of officiating priests.  Of course, not all opinions in the South Asian (Indian, SA Indian, North Indian, South Indian) society are so favourable and open-minded.

Gay desi’s in South Africa have become more resilient to society’s harassment and have begun living their lives openly.  This by no means shows any increasing tolerance to homosexuals in general.  For one, as a gay Indian individual our ethnic background & gender are the strengths that allow one to push the barriers further to make a point undeterred by the Islamic community one-sided views, the Indian community and the general gay hating part of society.

The influence of living in South Africa is that it teaches the beauty of tolerance to a greater degree. Our society allows respectful co-existence of all cultures, stereotypes and sexually based lifestyles. Shouldn’t the subcontinent and the rest of the traditional part of the world learn from this as well?

If we as adults do not display this maturity to tolerate, should and will a death/suicide of a mothers/father son nudge one into this direction? We live in hope that this will not be the case.  

The case of one’s orientation does not determine one’s individual identity as a person. Get over it, I am gay. I have the #MoralCourage to share my personal identity with you. @IrshadManji, the shining light that gave me the courage to stand up proud of myself.


About Naufal Khan

Publisher & editor of Indian Spice.