News of a doctor at AIIMS killing herself on discovering her husband, also an AIIMS medico, was gay was reported on Sunday. A most tragic outcome of what is regrettably a not uncommon practice among gay men in India, the case is only the latest in a series that have hit headlines, another one being that of the Bangalore techie whose wife got him arrested under Section 377 after coming to know about his homosexuality.
On the surface, the details of both the cases are nearly the same. A husband who refuses to come out to his wife and denies her conjugal rights, this leading to growing tension between the couple over the lack of sexual intimacy, the husband or his family putting the blame on the woman for not performing her wifely duties - in bed, and so on. There, however, the two cases diverge. While the Bangalore techie's wife took on the mantle of righting the wrong done to her (whether or not the husband's arrest was called for is another debate), the AIIMS doctor opted for a drastic, irreversible step.
The details of the AIIMS case call attention to its mess. The lady doctor was made to feel cheap for demanding sex by her husband whose porn consumption habits and phone data made it abundantly clear to her which way he swung. Yet, she believed him when he told her his computer had been hacked and that he was not gay. In a Facebook entry posted before her suicide, she wrote she kept her doubts to herself because she loved him and hoped things would work out one day.
About a month ago he came out to her as gay or bisexual (he told her he was not sure which but I can bet that's just chauvinism speaking - the guy was gay, all caps). The sadder thing is that she was willing to live with him in spite of his homosexuality if only he had shown her tenderness. In her post she wrote: "I loved you a lot and in return you took all my happiness from me. You are not a human being; you are a devil who took away my life from me. I never wanted anything from you but due to your abnormal sexuality you thought I needed sex from you but that's wrong. I just wanted to be with you and accept you because I loved you very much, but you never knew the importance of this. You are a criminal".
Gay rights activists tend to portray such cases as ones in which there are no right answers. They point to how society studiously builds expectations of heterosexuality around men and that it takes balls of steel to defy this trend. Add dimensions of property/family inheritance, and it is not easy in the least, they argue, to live openly as gay.
Which, in a word, is a load of crap. Coming out is not about courage. It is about finally ridding yourself of the miasma of incompleteness that you discover you have caged yourself in for no good reason. It is about telling yourself: "Thus far and no more." It is about rising to the surface for some desperately needed oxygen. It's survival, not an episode of Fear Factor. It is about realising your life's potential and leading a fuller existence. And it is about being humane. If you do not have the guts to come out, sure, stay in the closet, but don't marry, and if you have to because chachaji has a nice packet stacked for you somewhere provided you do the straight deal, then be loyal and nice and husbandly to your wife. Make a family and live the hetero life, with pleasure. If you then do not have the heart to give your wife what she expects from a marriage, it is not because you are gay and cannot bring yourself to. It's because you have chosen for yourself a life of convenience where you want the best of both worlds without sharing a shred of that comfort zone with your wife. In other words, it's because you are an asshole.
The AIIMS doctor wrote in the FB post about the depth of mental agony she endured on account of her husband's sexuality. This story is no ordinary weepie, where we can shed silent tears for her even as we tch-tch at the inevitability of it all. This is rank murder. You cannot treat a woman like a nice accoutrement to the giant lie that you have spun around your life, particularly a woman who has nurtured fervent dreams of togetherness with you. Ah, sometimes I wish we made our women stronger and prepared them for all the bullshit this world presents them. She killed herself, dude. You and you alone, not the sob story surrounding your homosexuality, is responsible for this.
So yes, it would be very nice to have greater equality for gays so that they can come out and marry whomever they want. That would be swell, but in the meantime, let us not fool ourselves that anything about our society or our family structure or our institutions forces gays to marry women. Nothing can force someone to deny something so intrinsic to one's identity as gayness. Let us not buy into rubbish that covers up a guy's brutishness under what is (indeed) a broader social issue.