Does love conquer all?

Does love conquer all?

Sukriti Taneja

In a country that jams to the tunes of Aadmi hu, aadmi se pyaar karat hu, you would imagine inclusivity and acceptance on the matters of who one chooses to love, to be an unsaid privilege. Unfortunately, that remains a far-fetched reality for most of the country.

The Supreme Court’s 2018 judgement made one thing evident, with time comes change; Change that our ever-growing country so desperately could count on to feel whole. 

Steering into a more welcoming and pride-coloured future, we have all, at a certain level, experienced the beauty of love through the eyes and words of those who marched with their heads held high and their beliefs clearer than the sky in the summertime.

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From a co-ed school that normalised making a mockery out of anyone seemingly different to one of India’s prime women’s colleges was a journey that I consider an eye-opener. The topic of sexuality is one in particular that was often brushed under the carpet, almost like a forbidden fruit. The lack of space and forum only became evident to me in a place that so beautifully nourished and nurtured us as students and individuals with their identities and sexualities.

Pride March and pride month were always some of Lady Shri Ram College’s most cherished traditions. With pride flags put across the college, marches with dancing and singing, open mics and face painting sessions, we all got the opportunity to embrace change and awareness; even if we did not directly identify with the cause, we all mutually supported it.

Years of neglect and lack of understanding by parents and friends all came to a standstill for many individuals when they entered the red-coloured gates in Lajpat 4. 

My college experience opened my eyes to the underlying struggles many of my peers faced in accepting and committing to who they chose to be with confidence. Hence, I can say with certainty, kindness and an open mindset go a long way, but opening the doors for unbiased communication paves the way for a cycle of love to push through.

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Goa, the party central of India, is advanced for its time not only in terms of its party culture but also in its efforts to recognise all citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation, as equal. The beauty of Goa extends beyond its lush greens and beaches; it makes its way in its efforts to implement educational plans to support young adults identifying with the LGBTQIA+ community since 2015.

While planned as a getaway trip, my visit to the state post-pandemic ended up being so much more. I decided to break the norm, stay in South Goa this time, and explore Goa’s hidden gems. 

Coming from Delhi, we are often required to be aware and conscious of the judgement that comes with being affectionate or intimate towards someone of the same gender. My stay in Goa and subsequent interactions with the locals rendered all my inhibitions null and void.

Being out on the beach for water sports, I came across a beautiful Goan shack owned and managed by two women. They had known each other since they were 15 and fell in love over time. Between friendship and business, they found love. 

Being a hopeless romantic, my heart was indeed full. However, one question I could not hold myself back from asking was, “Is it easy to break past the norm and choose to be with each other? Did your parents ever object?”

Not surprised by my questions, one of them responded, “Love is only love when you are willing to fight past all of it, and that we have. Fortunately for us, the fights mostly revolved around the last slice of pizza rather than our parents or the community.”

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Bollywood has its roots deep within the soil in the colourful land of Uttar Pradesh. It not only played a significant role in shaping and enhancing the state’s culture but also changed the ideologies that remain dominant there, slowly but steadily.

During one of my visits to Ghaziabad for work in 2021, I crossed paths with a woman in the Delhi Metro’s women’s compartment. She identified as a transgender woman. I was already seated when the Metro stopped at the Raj Bagh station, and she entered and sat beside me on the beyond the rare empty metro seat.

Evidently and obviously, a group of middle-aged women seated opposite us were uncomfortable with her presence in that particular Metro section and suggested that she go to the general compartment.

Being so close to the country’s capital, I questioned whether acceptance and sensitivity to the community had even remotely made their way past the busy highways into the state that is home to the most significant symbol of love in our nation, the Taj Mahal.

Offended and astonished by the remarks made by the women in the compartment, she laughed and replied, “Aurat sirf birth certificate pe likha hona zaroori he ye kisne kaha?”

I was inspired and awe-struck. When the momentary heat died down, I turned to her and applauded her for her courage. She gave me a very humble response, “If I can even inspire one person to stand up against society and be exactly who they want to be, I am doing justice to my beliefs and the community.”

We exchanged pleasant smiles as the Metro pulled up at the Vaishali station. I walked towards the autorickshaw, knowing that educating people about the importance of sexuality being more than a mere piece of paper, pre-decided at birth, is imperative. 

Our sexuality should only be defined as the essence of our identity and who we feel comfortable being without restriction and judgement.

While much progress has been made, acceptance is a freedom only some are entitled to. The choice of love while lies in the hand of every individual, the notions of acceptance towards an individual’s choice, yet somehow lies with us as a society.

To fail to recognise the sheer innocence and simplicity of love as an individual identifying with the LGBTQIA+ community, the failure to view it as anything but ordinary and natural makes us failures in the eyes of a so-called ‘liberal society’.

Love conquers all is one saying we have all grown up hearing; the question remains: Are you willing to support and fight battles you may not associate as your own? 

Are you doing your bit to be the sword that cuts past years of neglect and unfiltered bias? Do you support the notions of pride, keeping intact your own?