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Right to choose

sex-and-relationships Updated: Feb 03, 2009 19:31 IST
Rochelle Pinto
Rochelle Pinto
Hindustan Times
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Rochelle Pinto is comfortable with gay friends...

Growing up in a moderately religious family has its advantages. One is taught that negative actions will invite heavenly wrath and God keeps track of one’s good deeds in his little black book.

A firm believer in karma, this teaching helped me to balance the fine line between mischief and mayhem. However, there was one point of debate, which my spiritual parents and I could never agree on. My parents are anti-homosexuality, while I celebrate and adore friends, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

It began as a mild dinner table argument some years ago but turned into a war of words when I made my first gay friend.
I was completely in awe of him because he was defiantly gay, without subscribing to the pink-shirt and flailing hands stereotype. He was a successful designer with a sound relationship (his boyfriend was sweeter than the boy I was dating then).

Like any other 16-year-old girl with a new best friend, I hung out with him as much as possible. Our never-ending conversations peppered with, “Darling and honey,” didn’t settle well. While my parents couldn’t accuse me of flirting with a man, they didn’t approve of this friendship.

Up in arms
While my parents protested the ‘unnatural inclinations’ of the gay community, I argued their right to choose. Or more importantly, their right to be themselves. Having grown up singing the tune, God made all creatures great and small, I found it difficult to believe that homosexuality was just an almighty accident. Unfortunately, the argument didn’t end there. My uncles and aunts who are priests and nuns rose up in arms, and tried to reason with what they assumed was adolescent insolence.

Being myself
And since I’ve inherited their argumentative spirit, all rules went flying out of the window when this touchy topic was raised. My cousins, smartly diplomatic, stayed away, although they secretly agreed with me.

Five years and a dozen gay friends later, my parents have come to terms with their incorrigible child. They even avoid politically incorrect gay jokes when I’m around. While their acceptance of my choice of friends may not be extended to the friends themselves, I can count on them to be
hospitable and polite if they are ever introduced.

While they may never fully accept homosexuality as another state of normalcy, at least they afford me the right to choose my friends.. and to be myself around them.