Straight men are turning to social media to engage with LGBTI people but our reactions are ruining this incredible opportunity.
I realized this as I looked through an Indian gay ‘confessions page’. The administrators and most members are closet gays, just as I am.
Many of the confessions were fascinating but the most striking ones were – surprisingly – posted by straight men.
The first post I read was from a man who said to all the gays of India that we are mentally sick. He argued homosexuality was caused by young people watching Hollywood movies and following western culture.
If it wasn’t for that, he claimed, nothing like homosexuality would exist.
Indeed, he confessed that when his nephew revealed he is gay ‘we beat him a lot, he left it and is now enjoying a happy married life’.
His advice to us all was to follow Indian traditions, think about our parents and family and live a ‘healthy life’.
Admittedly his confession about his nephew was shocking and it’s easy to understand why he stirred up strong emotions among the page’s LGBTI members.
But the replies posted to him were not just rude but senseless. Some even accused Bollywood movies and the mentality of straight people of causing the rapes of women.
Most significantly, not a single comment told him that if someone is a homosexual, it is not his or her choice it is part of them – that if someone is gay, they are gay and no power on this earth can make them straight.
Another straight man was even more accusatory. He asked ‘why you gays are just so cheap and try to touch bodies of boys in buses, metro trains and other public transport? It’s so disgusting, I hate gays.’
Obviously his claims are false and ludicrous. But almost the same sentiments were expressed against straights by the gays who responded.
‘Now you understand how girls feel when you do the same things with girls in public transport, it is a lesson for all cheap straights,’ they said.
Not a single commentator said that touching any other person without his or her will – be it a man or woman – is wrong and if a gay or a straight person does it, they are cheap and abusive. Nobody pointed out these acts have nothing to do with homosexuality, just as we can’t say all heterosexual men are rapists.
Another interesting confession was from a straight man worried by his small penis size. He revealed his girlfriend was watching porn regularly so he asked for advice.
In my last article I wrote about the size myth and certainly this man could have found the opinions I expressed there useful.
But to my utter astonishment, people didn’t react with support or even compassion. Most reactions were like this: ‘Not only your dick but also your brain is small, you asshole. What are you doing on a gay page?’
Can we get equality this way?
Whoever posts – gay or straight, friend or enemy – should get genuine advice and an honest, respectful reply. If you are not able to do that, at least stop spreading hatred or mocking others.
I don’t agree with or defend what was said by the first two straight people I’ve listed. But can these reactions help us to fight for our rights in India where both the law and society is already against gays?
Social media has provided us with a fantastic platform to react on gay issues and raise our voice for LGBTI rights. It is up to us to decide how we want to use it.