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Is DU out of the closet?

delhi Updated: Jun 24, 2008 12:34 IST
Rahul Sabharwal
Rahul Sabharwal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

We’ve come a long way — from vows of eternal love to the idea of live-in relationships. But talk about homosexuality and all it provokes is an anecdote about a sissy gay guy or a butch lesbian. Progressive DU? Hardly.

Homophobia

Vijay, a final-year student in Hans Raj, is bisexual. He says that whenever the topic of homosexuality comes up on the campus, “people conveniently skirt the issue saying they don't have a problem with it. But once you come out in the open, all that people do is ridicule you — as if you are a different species.” For others, the trouble is much more than facing a difficult attitude. Shubham, a gay second year DU student, says about his hostel experience, “The ragging in the boys’ hostel is outright harassment if you are gay or even a bit effeminate. I lived in constant fear for an entire year.” His suffering was so extreme that Shubham cannot bring himself to even speak about it.

Nisha, a resident of a DU girl’s hostel for three years, has had it a little easier. “Girls are more comfortable with the idea of same sex couples,” she says. “As long as it’s between two consenting adults, there’s nothing wrong with it.” But that’s not to say lesbians can come out of the closet without facing any hurdles. Girls can be cruel, too. “Many seniors make a joke of it. We have to be discreet about our relationships,” says Nisha.

Keep it close

Sanjay Kumar, who teaches at Hans Raj College talks about how DU, for all its tall talk about spreading awareness on HIV and other issues, has an ostrich-like attitude towards homosexuality — it wants to keep its head buried in the sand.

Homosexuality, he says, is tolerated as long as it’s in the closet. “But as soon as one comes out in the open, the right-wing patriarchy in DU feels threatened,” he says.

Dr Samir Parikh, chief of the department of mental health and behavioural sciences in Max Healthcare, feels that homophobia cannot be place-specific and is a worldwide concern, since it results in discrimination and stereotyping. “Homosexuality is normal from a medical point of view and people must realise that everybody is not the same,” says Dr Parikh. “The solution lies in giving people their space and not imposing your views on others.” Some names have been changed to protect privacy.