Counting Tears: Forced Into Heterosexual Marriage

Posted By: Sourav Songara

Picture Courtesy of Yogesh and Tarun

The story you are about to read is a true story. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Aound February and March you hear the sounds of wedding bands everywhere in India. They are celebrating love but not all of them, some are celebrating love getting butchered.

I recently attended a marriage of my very close friend Yogesh. He just got married to a girl. Sounds simple enough right? But the painful fact is that he’s gay.

Yogesh (28) loves another man Tarun (27).

The fact is that we can’t choose who we fall in love with – it just happens. We aren’t criminals anymore after the September 6th judgment of the Supreme Court scrapping parts of Sec 377. In the court of society however,  we still are heathens.

Tarun got married at the age of 21. In states like Rajasthan and Haryana, it is common to marry children at young ages. Both of them had told their families that they are gay but at the age when Tarun got married, he wasn’t in a state of self acceptance so he drifted with the dicey idea of heterosexual marriage to please his family and honour them. He was of the opinion that he could only be married to a girl. The idea of homosexual marriage was simply nonexistent in his frame of mind. His elder sister told him it’s okay if he is gay but that heterosexual marriage is mandatory – a story that many of us are far too familiar with.

Yogesh on the other hand, he is 28 now. He told his family about his orientation but couldn’t stand his ground when faced with emotional blackmail from his own mother. His mother had said that it is her societal duty to get him married and that he may be able to let go of the marriage afterwards. All through his marriage rituals he was depressed and sad, it was plastered all over his face.

I left the marriage one day prior, and my friend alone because I could not witness such a tragedy. I never felt so helpless in my life. Even today in the LGBT+ community, the idea of entering heterosexual marriages out of convenience is widespread. This idea of forced heteronormativity is inculcated in the mindsets of LGBT+ individuals. I have met so many queer folks who believe that queer sex is just for fun and heterosexual marriage is a duty to society and mandatory to retain family’s honour. This view is so gut wrenching because not only does it destroy the other person’s life they are marrying but also destroys the progress of our movement.

Yogesh told the girl before marriage that he’s gay. The patriarchal pressure is so excruciating that even after knowing this fact, the girl could not say “No” to her family about this marriage. In India a majority of our marriages are not consensual.

We sit as we read this story, we say it’s easy to say “No” , but it’s really hard to understand the root cause. Humsafar Trust’s data shows that about 80% of Indian gay men still marry heterosexual partners which goes on to show that so many people enter into these types of doomed arrangements willingly or unwillingly every year.

Legalisation of gay sex made society a little bit more accepting but the absence of Gay Marriage Rights and Adoption Rights still makes the future unclear for us. I have seen my friend opening his heart not just to his family but also to society, he sacrificed his love for nothing but to save face of the family. My friend is not the only one – he is just an example, there are thousands of queer individuals who go through the same silent but very real violence. It’s us who make the society and it’s us who need to break the norms with love and revolution.

Do you or anyone you know need help? Check out our resources page to find the kind of help you can get as a queer person anywhere in India.

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