A sad reality one learns to accept as a minority is that your suffering only truly counts in death. There are no guarantees even then; but ironically, once gone, you make some kind of place in a world which values eternal absence way more than any kind of fight for equality when a person is alive.
The recent news of a gay couple from Kerala is a reminder of this. Jebin Joseph, survived by his partner Manu, had to wait for the latter’s family to give him the ‘permission’ to bid a final goodbye to his love. This is the same family that categorically refused to accept Manu’s body because he was homosexual.
The court went out of its way to convince his blood relatives to hold a funeral for him. Meanwhile his life-partner went from one office to another, trying to convince the upholders of law to allow him to do it. Manu’s mortal remains were in the mortuary for 6 days, as people who rejected him and the one person who loved him fought over the technicalities of his funeral.
This has created an uproar across the country, as it should, but there is also a feeling of helplessness. If I feel that as an ally, one can’t even imagine the mental ordeal the queer community must be going through. There are fights you fight, knowing fully well that you may not see victory in your lifetime; but it is spirit-crushing, still, to see the evidence of it at times. Manu’s death is that evidence.
I wish I had the right words, or any words, that do justice to the torment being inflicted upon Jebin, but I do not. However, this has made one thing clear to me. I always thought that there is no bigger sin than forbidding love but this case has made me realise that in fact, there is. Not allowing a person to see their life-partner for the last time, as they brace themselves to live an already arduous life is a bigger sin.
My mind keeps going back to all the unknown battles the two must have fought for their love, and how lonely that must have been. They must have told each other that it will all be fine, even if the world does not support them. That they will make it through. And they did, they managed to make a life together. However, you can’t defeat fate and its cruelty. Today, they have much more support as their story is now national news. Except, it’s too late.
The dead can’t read our words of solidarity; and this is why it is important to stand up for as many people as one can while they are still around.
I understand the complications of an unfair world. Often, opposition to discrimination gets caught in the web of particulars that most of us don’t know how to navigate. We must keep trying, though. To all the Manus who are not with us anymore, we are sorry we could not make this world safe enough for your love to exist; and to all the Jebins, we promise that we will never quit.