Queerness is a diverse and inclusive umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of identities and experiences. A term used to describe individuals whose sexual or gender identity falls outside of traditional societal norms.
It wasn't until January 2023 when I finally came out of the closet and accepted the fact that I am skoliosexual—fighting with your inner thoughts every time you get attracted to a non-binary person. But the moment I embraced my identity and accepted the way I am, I was at utter peace.
As someone who is both, queer and has a super religious-brahmin-pandit family, I know the challenges that come with it all too well. It's like balancing a boy with Andrew Tate's personality with a girl who can recite all Taylor's songs like hymns. It isn't exactly easy. The first question that popped up in my mind when I discovered my sexuality was 'How will my family react to it?' The thought of them not accepting me was apprehensive. Many of the queer folks might've dealt with similar criticality too.
I could've been like "To crap with your thoughts. I am who I am. You can just go to god's lap". But let's face it. They are my family, the ones who paid for this laptop I am writing this article on. The situation was just confusing and it still is. When I told my dad that I was writing something about how religion opposes queerness, the pandit side of him immediately asked, "Shourya, are you gay? Are you sleeping with other men? We will throw you out if you are, blah blah." Thus, the second question arises.
Why is he like that? Why is society like that? Why does it compare queerness with religious norms and considers being queer an immoral act or a sin?
So, all the queer and straight people, let us together dive a little deeper and bring out the reasons for this old-fashioned clash of belief systems.
Literal Religious Facts
A long time ago, when there was no religion and everyone was part of a big happy family, someone decided to split people in accordance with their belief system and who they worship, giving birth to religion. I wish I had a time machine to stop them from doing so.
Anyway, in the aftermath, each religion decided to pen down its own faith and its beliefs over everything, including sexuality.
For instance, according to the Bible, it's a big no-no to "lie with a male as with a woman" (Leviticus 18:22).
I guess that means no pillow fights or binging Netflix in bed with your significant other of the same gender.
And in the Quran, there's a story about a bunch of folks from Lot who got punished by God for engaging in some homosexual activities.
Sounds like God was not too pleased with their extracurricular activities, huh?
I mean, I get it. These texts were written a long time ago when people didn't understand much about human sexuality. But still, it's pretty harsh to say that something that comes naturally to some people is an abomination. It's like saying, "Hey, you there. Yeah, you with the curly hair. Your hair is an abomination. You should be ashamed of it."
However, contrary to their own texts, there are also some examples in both texts of individuals who may have had same-sex relationships or characteristics. For example, the relationship between David and Jonathan in the Bible has been interpreted by some as a romantic or sexual relationship, and the Quran describes the existence of "mukhannathun" or effeminate men who were accepted and respected in society. Moreover, some Hindu mythological characters like Agni, the god of fire, are married both to the goddess Svaha and the male Moon god Soma with Agni having a receptive role in this relationship.
So you really don't want your thoughts to be based on texts which were written at a time when maybe dinosaurs didn't even turn into fossils.
Ultimately, the interpretation of religious texts is subjective and can vary greatly depending on the individual or community. While some may see these texts as being inherently opposed to queerness, others may find ways to reconcile their faith with their sexuality or gender identity.
Religion as a defence mechanism
India is often called the land of diversities. Be it cultures, languages, or religions but not when it comes to queerness. It's rather restricted to 2 sexes. Not only that, the response of religious leaders in India to queer identities and relationships has been mostly negative, as if they were allergic to rainbows!
In the Hindu community, we have the immortal yoga guru who believes that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured with yoga and meditation."THE IMMORTAL BEING" has also been a strong advocate for banning same-sex marriage in India, arguing that it goes against the traditional values and norms of Hinduism. He has claimed that Hinduism defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are unnatural and against the principles of dharma (righteousness) and karma (action).
The Muslim community has also expressed opposition to queerness, with Maulanas stating that it's a sin in Islam and that those who engage in same-sex relationships should be punished under Islamic law.
In the Sikh community, Akal Takht has called for a ban on same-sex marriage, stating that it's against the teachings of Sikhism.
While India is known for its diversity and democracy, the response of religious leaders to queerness has been largely negative, highlighting the need for greater understanding, acceptance, and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community in India, thus affecting the people's state of mind and general awareness towards queerness.
Threat to family values
Religious leaders as mentioned above have been known to argue that homosexuality poses a threat to traditional family values. Apparently, they believe that the only reason people get married is to pop out babies and raise them. And according to them, same-sex couples are incapable of fulfilling this purpose.
A lesbian couple from Kerala faced opposition from their families due to their same-sex relationship in 2018. The families argued that it was a threat to traditional values and brought shame to the family. The couple's plea for protection was initially rejected but later received support from the Kerala government.
Well, it's clear that some religious leaders are just not up to speed with modern society. I mean, who still believes that the only reason to get married is to have kids? The Dark Ages are long gone. It's like they've never heard of adoption, or the fact that families can come in all sorts of configurations. What's next? Banishing left-handed people for not being "traditional" enough?
Many celebrity faces like the famous hip hop rapper Jay Z and the famous female singer Mandy Moore have queer parents and we all definitely know that they are making much more money than those religious leaders mentioned.
Queerness: a disorder?
Imagine waking up on a school day and asking your mom for a day's leave. The reason you tell her is "Oh I am feeling queer today."
Isn't that amazing? Many religions and belief systems state that queerness or being queer is a sign of a mental disorder.
The Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to natural law." They have also been criticized for their role in promoting harmful conversion therapy. They think that being queer is a result of some kind of trauma or disorder that can be cured with a little therapy or prayer.
Well, let me tell you, if that were true, I'd be the first in line for some conversion therapy to change my attraction to chicken wings. But in all seriousness, mental health professionals have debunked the idea that homosexuality is a disorder.
The American Psychological Association (in 1973) and World Health Organization (in 1990) have both stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, helping to reduce stigma and shift societal attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Trying to change someone's sexual orientation is not only ineffective, but it can also be downright harmful. So let's focus on loving and accepting people for who they are, rather than trying to fit them into some narrow, outdated view of what's "normal."