The colours of the rainbow

I wrote this as an experiment. This piece does not reflect my true views on the LGBT community. As I am not a member of said community, it would be difficult for me to understand their views properly. Hence, I am neutral in the issue. If I were called to vote on the issue of gay marriage, for instance, I would not vote, no matter what the stakes.

“Should he have resigned?” he asked me.

“I don’t know, mate,” I said, working on my laptop.

“Come, on,” he urged me. “Think about it. Give me an opinion! I want to know your stand on it.”

I rolled my eyes. He could be such a drama queen at times.

“Forget the fact that I’m gay, mate,” he said. “And you know that I won’t hold anything against you.”

I sighed. “Fine,” I responded. “I don’t think Eich should have resigned from his post of Mozilla CEO. Happy?”

“Reasons, man!” he hollered, a large grin on his face. “I need your reasons!”

I groaned. The only way to oblige him here would be by acquiescing to his request. I took a deep breath.

“Look,” I began, “What is a company all about, hmm?”

“Building a product,” he replied.

“And what is Mozilla building?”

“Firefox, and Thunderbird, or they were building it anyway. Oh! And Firefox OS.”

“Exactly. And what does Brendan Eich’s stance on Gay marriage have to do with any of them?”

“A lot, I would think,” he replied, his voice turning a tad serious.

“How is that?” I asked.

“Well, imagine if my employer openly discriminated against the LGBT community,” he said. “Would I be comfortable working with him?”

“Mate, giving a donation to prop 8 is hardly discriminating against the LGBT community.”

“But it is!” he was getting serious now. It had started as fun, but I knew that this would need me to abandon my essay to focus properly. “He’s taking away my right to be with the man I want!”

I sighed. “No one’s taking your right to do that away. What you can’t do is legally marry him.”

“And isn’t that discrimination?” he pointed out. “Isn’t that the kind of discrimination sane, thinking human beings want to put an end to? I realise that you’re not particularly receptive to the feelings of the LGBT community yourself, but you’ve never said anything against their agenda either.”

“Well, think about it this way,” I said. “What is the end product of a marriage?”

“Happiness,” he replied instantly.

“Well, lots of heterosexual men would object, but no, that’s not what I meant.”

“Then what?”

“Children,” I replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

He stared at me. “Man,” he said at last. “That is so nineteenth century.”

“No, think about it,” I replied. “Can any other institution allow you to have children?”

“No,” he said.

“Then? The only thing a state gets out of a marriage is new citizens. If you take people’s emotions out of the equation, then what is the need to allow gay or lesbian marriage?”

“But you can’t take human emotions out of the picture,” he pointed out. “Lots of people marry for reasons other than bringing forth kinds into the world.”

“And yet a majority of those in a marriage end up having kids,” I pointed out.

“Agreed,” he admitted. “But still, children is not the reason people marry. People have children when they are comfortable enough. It’s just a side product of marriage.”

“The most important side product of a marriage,” I pounced on his statement.

“Happiness is the most important side product of a marriage,” he pointed out. “People get divorced because they’re unhappy in their marriages, you know.”

“I do,” I replied. “I know that marriages break apart because of tension between the couple. But that tension can be caused due to many factors. You need to be happy in whatever you’re doing. Children could be a major reason for that tension, so could religion. Who knows? Maybe the wife suddenly realises her husband is a dumbass. It could be anything.”

“So the point where we disagree is the biological side product of marriage,” he said. “Well, it has been proven that homosexuality is biological.”

“And you know something else?” I said. “The very nature of human reproduction means that homosexuality is doomed to die out.”

“And yet,” he countered with a smile, “it hasn’t.”

I smiled back. “It hasn’t,” I replied. “But again, we’ve drifted off topic. How does this discussion affect what Eich’s decision should have been?”

“Because Eich supports inequality,” he replied.

I sighed. “I don’t think he does, fella. You’re allowed to marry whichever female agrees to marry you, as am I. How’s that unequal? He never tried to make things unequal for you.”

“He’s taking away my right to love whoever I want and not get vilified for it.”

I stood up. “You know something? If I went back home and told my mother that I’ve fallen in love with a Black, African woman, my mother will try to be happy for me. But she won’t be as happy as if I had chosen a White girl. Quite a large faction of my ‘modern Indian family’ will be scandalized.

It would have been the same thing had I suddenly decided to go gay. My parents would have been supportive, I’m sure, but I’m certain my grandmother would have gone into depression.”

“Well, that’s not right either,” he pointed out. “That’s pretty racist and petty of them.”

“My point is,” I said, glancing at him to shut him up, “that their views don’t mean jack to me. I can go against my family’s views and not care that they’ll stop loving me. I think it’s pretty clear that Eich might have, at one point, been against gay marriage, the same way I am academically, but that hardly means that he’s going to order all the members of the LGBT community to GTFO or STFU. In fact, I doubt he would honestly care what you do in the confines of your house, or even if you bring your partner to work for some reason.”

“But imagine this,” he argued. “Your employer is working actively to make sure that you never get to marry a chick from another country. Would you still work with him?”

“But is Eich actively doing that?” I shot back. “He donated $1000 once to prop 8. If my employer had once donated to some cause I hate, short of a terror outfit, of course, I wouldn’t really care. I mean, yeah, I work for you, and we have different views on something. That’s it. End of story. We smile and move on. That’s what a professional should be like.”

“Except that you probably don’t have issues that hit so close to home,” he pointed out. “He’s not violating a fundamental right of yours.”

“He’s not violating one of yours either,” I countered. “His supported view is not enforced any more, and you’re hounding him for a donation he made to a cause which was supported by the majority at that time. It makes little sense.”

“I don’t feel comfortable working with someone who hates people like me. I don’t feel comfortable knowing that he has it in him to fund something which tries to take away from me something which makes me happy.”

“What? The right to be with your partner? No one’s doing that to you. You can’t marry him, but you’re free as ever to walk out into the sunset holding hands. No one can legally stop you.”

He threw up his hands. “You’re impossible.”

“No,” I replied smugly, “My point of view is different from yours. I’m speaking as the devil’s advocate here regarding LGBT rights. Of course you should have them. But even if your employer decides that he or she personally does not share your views, you should not let your professionalism suffer for it.”

“Also,” I continued after a short pause, “Movements like Feminism and even LGBT Rights tend to irritate me. They make a lot of noise. Yes. I agree that you need your rights. Yes, I know that you’re fighting for them. But why do you have to emphasize it all the time?”

“Because every waking second for us is a struggle,” he said softly. “We’re denied things you heterosexual men take for granted. Freedom to choose who you want.”

“Then get into the government and change things,” I pointed out. “Rallies and excessive noise, like feminism, actually creates animosity.”

“That’s how we make people understand, that’s how we force them to look at the issue.”

“And for someone like me who’s actually looked at it, it’s annoying. I sympathise with your plight. That doesn’t mean I’m going to lift a finger to help you.”

“Evil is propagated when good men decide to do nothing. Don’t be one of those men.”

I took a deep breath and let it out. “I’m not going to be an obstacle to someone who’s doing something about it. I’m not going to be someone who doesn’t support people working on this. But don’t expect me to take the initiative. It’s not my fight.

When LGBT decides to add polygamy to it, call me. I’ll be protesting right up there with the best of you.”


6 thoughts on “The colours of the rainbow

  1. You are right in saying that a Good cause can be made Bad when advocates become overzealous. But the question is, have feminists and LGBT communities really been overzealous as to hinder their very own causes? To a certain degree, I think there needs some noises, propaganda, and even obstinate insistence to make voices heard. Yet the effect usually depends on the way advocates go about it. (Make it a good case that works, you guys, don’t spoil it…)

    1. I don’t really know the answer to that question. In many ways, they have. I do know someone who works for female empowerment in India (that’s the term they use for feminist activism there). We’re quite close, in fact. The group with which she worked is filled with lesbians, divorcees (very rare in India, weird as it might sound), most of them women. I have met this group of people often enough. However, every time I have met them, I have been given the cold shoulder simply for being a straight male with slightly conservative views. Returning the discrimination is not the way to go.

      Second, feminist activists generally bring up many pointless issues which have nothing to do with what feminism is really about. I’ve heard numerous things about say, the number of women in the top echelons of the government, in the boards of various companies, in engineering colleges, in high school, for that matter. Most of it is blamed on patriarchy, and rightly so. However, most of this hate is directed towards the expression of thousands of years of bad tradition now, without actually thinking a lot about how it came to be. The best way to deal with whatever is going on is to agree and understand that whatever change needs to come will affect men and women equally and then decide to deal with whatever is happening.

      Third, many feminist activists also focus on human rights and some other things like sanitation and employment, which is lovely, honestly, because it needs to be done. However, a lot of their work is focused on females. Female self-help groups are all the rage in the developing world right now. You know something? In a highly traditional country like India, no matter what you do to improve the conditions of women, you need to make sure men aren’t left out, because if you do that, there will be repercussions.

      And lastly, in India, specifically, which is the only place where I have interacted with feminists in a regular fashion, many of them are attacking the wrong things. You need to mount an attack in a specific manner in order for it to make an impact. You can’t keep making appearances on TV shows and critique the government all the time. You got to get down and dirty, and actually do some grunt work. And you have to do it in a manner such that the existing structure doesn’t feel too threatened.

      1. I love how you always give beautifully elaborated responses to the questions of your readers. These reflections show that even though you don’t necessarily agree with the exclusiveness of the feminist movements in India, you still care about them. And I appreciate the resilience you have demonstrated, for each time they give a cold shoulder at you, you still go back. (No sarcasm intended.)

        You have observed that the women empowerment group is mostly comprised of female self-help solidarity groups who seem to have driven men away from the cause by making blatant accusations. Recognizing that this is a shared problem in feminist movements all over the world, I want to point out that what you experienced was understandable given the composition of that group. However, it is unquestioned that everyone has self-respect, and would not take offenses easily. My friend who teaches feminism in summer camps says, “speaking from the point of view of a man is much easier than if I were a woman” because he makes his fellows understand that they are also suffering, and that there is also a gain for them. This way he delivers the message without hurting the ego, if I may say so, of those men participants who sit side by side with women participants.

        Do you know what Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) said recently on the 375th Commencement of Havard University? “I tell men, if you want to have more sex, don’t buy flowers, do the laundry.” Isn’t she amazing? She’s my new favorite role model. Do you also recall what I said about my future marriage plans? You said I shouldn’t be thinking about this when I’m still so young and that I shouldn’t let this restrain what the future holds for me, and that most importantly plans don’t always work. I seem to understand a bit more why I had planed my life that way – either it’s my customized thoughts about gender roles, or simply that I value family over work. If it’s the former, I really need some self-help groups to help me =] If it’s the latter, there’s a deeper question of that compromise – will I always sacrifice work for family, or should I let my future husband do the laundry?>.<

        At Middlebury College, feminism takes up such a fascinating form, not least bit of intimidation. Men and women write openly about sexual assaults, talk about abortion and homosexual rights in classes, debate about affirmative action for men in college admission, perform The Vagina Monologues. There is discussion and understanding of the beautiful things human beings are capable of appreciating, even though the origin of these discussions is the presence of oppression and inequality. Now, one of my goals in the future is to go back to China and start a campaign about a comprehensive sex education for the youth – our biology courses are simply inadequate. To achieve this goal, I'm gonna refrain from shouting at the government, and recruiting men to work for the campaign. How does that sound?

      2. Thank you for your heartening words. 🙂 I try my best to be open to both sides of the debate, though, being human, I am obviously biased.

        Your friend from summer camp sounds wise. However, Sheryl Sandberg’s words are the antithesis of what women really want, methinks. 🙂 What she wants is for men to be nice. However, “nice guys finish last” is not an adage of the old world, it remains very relevant to guys today.

        I wish feminism was that open in India. A good debate on that matter would be lovely. In a way, I wish it were that open in Japan too.

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