Being gay or lesbian in India mostly means staying in the closet because a law dating back to 1860 criminalizes consensual sex between the same gender.
While Section 377 of the Indian Penal code has been previously questioned and overturned, India’s Supreme Court has yet to pronounce a final verdict.
It states: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Currently, the different branches of the government and even the church have opposing views on the matter, forcing homosexuals to live their lifestyles in hiding. It also certainly does not help that homosexuality has remained a taboo in India.
Living dual lives have become the norm for the nation’s gay population who are trying to live in a society that refuses to accept them for who they are.
Quora user Anamika Pareek, a self-admitted lesbian, wrote about her painfully honest experience in response to a question on the website, “What is it like to be a lesbian in India?” Sharing how her parents don’t know about her sexual preference, Pareek shared how it is almost impossible to hide it because she oftentimes can’t fight her own nature.
She also shared how complicated it got when in college she ended up sharing a room with another girl who didn’t know she was a lesbian. She writes on Quora:
“Our life would have been much easier had people accepted us. Since they don’t, so our life revolves around pretending and hiding.
Life gets complicated somehow. Especially if we go away from our home for further studies and share room with just another girl. It’s easy to hide for some time but can’t hide it all the time. If not everyone then roommate surely will get some hint.
Though we don’t fall for every other girl but there are things which make us uncomfortable, and that’s the grey area where we find it difficult to hide. But then the problem is we can’t control it plus if we confess it then it will leave others uncomfortable around us. Like, the other day my roommate was asking me if her nipples were visible in the top she was wearing. I looked and told her no. But when I said this, I had a smile on my face which I could not control. Now this question was normal that two girls can ask each other but you tell me will she ask the same question the moment she gets to know that I’m a lesbian?
This was just a minute example that I gave but there are many things which makes us uncomfortable and people think that either we are weird or insane to smile for no specific reason.
The reason we have to hide and pretend all the time is that society will hate us. The only reason we live in depression most of the times and have suicidal thoughts are that we can’t tell anyone and not everyone is courageous to come out and face the trouble.
The other day my gf wanted to kiss me. I told her to wait for like years till we start living together because if anyone see us, we will be in jail. Though I consoled her, but here “living together” looks like a distant dream when my parents are worried about getting me married (obviously with a boy). They have no clue about anything.
Accepting the fact that there exists people of different genre can make our lives much more easy. Till then we are hiding and pretending to be straight. The problem is this mask can’t be affixed permanently.”