Tuesday, 15 August 2017

When Pride Rhymes with Love: Report on Q.L.C. Meet August 2nd, 2017

Juveria Tabassum

“Love is a marriage of true minds,” said William Shakespeare in one of his many sonnets dedicated to a young man he was in love with. Just like the timeless English playwright, the world of literature has seen many brilliant poets and writers who found love in partners of the same sex, and chose to write about the wondrous sensation of loving another person, with little regard for the gender  of their beloved. 

Sumitra Ma'am Starting the Discussion
The Quills Literary Club explored few such authors and poets with its meeting on the theme, "Homosexuality and Literature". Dr Sumitra Jaiswal  gave a brief history of same-sex love in literature. 
The members then watched an award-winning animated student film, In a Heartbeat, which captures the innocent love between two young boys in the most endearing fashion. The film by Beth David and Esteban Bravo of Ringling College of Art and Design has gone viral on the Internet and has teased widespread discussion on the importance of such depictions of the LGBTQ+ community in mainstream media.

Meghana Shares Her Views on Homosexuality
After the film, Meghana delivered a speech about how homosexuality has always been prevalent in literature even though these texts have not been given the attention they deserved. She touched upon the social taboos around homosexuality and how change needed to start with classroom education that attempted to overcome such regressive thinking.

Ruhina Talking About The Color Purple
Supriya With Some Stirring Spoken Word

The next presentation was by Supriya and Ruhina, who talked about writer Alice Walker’s epistolary novel, The Color Purple. Set in the early 1900s, the novel explores the female African American experience through the life and struggles of its narrator, Celie. This was followed by a moving spoken word poetry performance based on the story by Supriya. It conveyed not just Celie’s pain through her days of abuse and neglect, but also brought forward her euphoria over finding true love in another woman.

Rakshita on Frank O' Hara
We then moved on to a presentation by Viola, Chandana and Rakshita on Frank o’ Hara’s truly delightful poem, Having a Coke With You. The poem talks about how O’ Hara finds the man he loves, to be a far more enchanting muse than admiring great works of art or visiting exotic places, or indulging in philosophical thought and research. O’ Hara’s breathless verse conveys his deep affection for his beloved in lines like,
It is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
Viola's Take on Having a Coke With You
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.’
The poem and the presentation left the club smiling in a weird sense of shared contentment. After all, what can be more captivating than an expression of true love?

Maliha and Avani on How We've Made a Great Mess of Love
D. H. Lawrence’s We’ve Made a Great Mess of Love, is a remark on how the society has contributed to the perversion of love by making “an ideal” out of it. The poem, presented by Maliha and Avani focused the conversation around how the excessive definitions and boundaries that we put around love have broken down its innate purity into something that’s insincere and artificial.

Conversations on Homosexuality- Indian Style
While we deliberated over these thoughts, Soujanya, Gunapriya and Neharika came up with a light-hearted skit that showed a young Indian Millenial attempting to explain the concept of homosexuality to his oblivious mom and his adamantly homophobic dad.
This was followed by a video by Shravya, Swati and Ashmita, 

which was a collection of views and opinions of the students of the college on homosexuality. It was an interesting way to bring the conversation to our own shores. We had Srinidhi set it up for us with her brief speech about homosexuality in ancient India, where we learned how the concepts of gender and sexuality remained fluid in mythologies that maintained every human form to be a natural manifestation of the divine.

Akshara and Group take us Through Love's Great Power
The last presentation was by Akshara, Akhila, Srilekha and Rakshita on Vikram Seth’s Through Love’s Great Power. The poem is a scathing protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling of December, 2013 that overturned a previous amendment to section 377 of the IPC, which criminalizes homosexual love as “sexual activities against the order of nature”. Seth’s powerful verse suggests that it is not love that is an unnatural crime, but the use of power in a way that victimizes an already marginalized group of people, and deprives them of basic human rights.
In the end, as we reflected over the poignant verses that we’d just read, we realized how a discussion on homosexuality somehow ended up being a celebration of love in all its exceptional forms.
Celebrating the Many Colours of Love 

We do not choose who we fall in love with. And love is, beyond everything, an intimate, inexplicable connection between two minds and souls. Criminalizing or fearing homosexuality or any other expression of a person’s love, is merely an expression of ignorance. Maybe it’s time we stop branding each other with labels that dehumanize our true, natural feelings and let love run its own course.