To Indians with rainbow filter Facebook DPs: America is not the world

One wonders what can come out of the gestures of people who only want to be 'cool' and don't really care.

 |  3-minute read |   28-06-2015
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All my Facebook and Twitter timelines are full of people putting a translucent rainbow over their profile pictures. I wondered if so many of my social media friends were Americans, but a closer look assured me these were all Indians.

It’s bizarre that so many people are celebrating the legalisation of gay marriage across the United States. It’s good to see so many Indians care about gay marriage in America, but why only America? This euphoria would be understandable if the US was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage, which it should have been, given the flag-bearer of freedom it pretends to be.

No, the first country to have legalised gay marriage was the Netherlands in 2001, 14 years ago. Belgium followed in 2003, Canada and Spain in 2005, South Africa in 2006, Sweden and Norway in 2009, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina in 2010, Denmark in 2012, Brazil, New Zealand, Uruguay and France in 2013. Just last year, our former colonial masters, the United Kingdom, started having same-sex civil unions. On January 1, 2015, Luxembourg joined this list. As a result, Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel married his partner Gauthier Destenay just a few weeks ago.

The news from these 17 countries was at best in the inside pages of newspapers. Our "cool" social media folks didn’t so much as post links about it. But the celebrations about America are at the display picture (DP) level. The last time we saw Indians on social media change their DPs for something was the school massacre in Peshawar.

The DP-silliness will no doubt raise some awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in India, which faced a conspiracy of silence until 2010. Yet, one wonders what can come out of the gestures of people who only want to be cool and don't really care.

It would be understandable if Indians were using this as an opportunity to demand gay marriage in India. Or at least demand decriminalisation of gay sex. While the US Supreme Court has legalised gay marriage, the Indian Supreme Court thinks it is not its job to trash a law that seeks to put LGBTs in jail. You’d think that all these Indians with DP-level concern for gay rights would make the point. Nope. They only want to change their DPs and tell us how great America is and how cool they are.

It’s disturbing to see how many Indians think America is the world. This is the same disease that makes many urban Indians more interested in American news and politics than Indian. You can find people in this country who don’t know the name of the Indian President but they would know who Obama is. This is what happens when an elite secedes from the society it belongs to.

It’s easy to be DP-cool with rainbow colours because Facebook has provided a page to put those translucent rainbow colours across your DP. It has provided some light moments, with people running Baba Ramdev’s picture through those colours. But largely, these are people who just think it is cool to do so, and no, many of them don’t care a damn about gay rights. One Facebook friend, Sanu Nair, called out some people on their hypocrisy. “Saw few people, who are usually seen cracking 'gay' jokes, change their Facebook display pics to lend support. Hope they will now also change their attitude towards homosexuality,” he wrote in a status update.

I’m sure there are some rainbow-DP people who read that and exclaimed, "That’s so gay!"

Writer

Shivam Vij Shivam Vij @dillidurast

Shivam Vij is a journalist in Delhi.

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