A: You are addressing your dislike and dis-gust of gays, and therefore, your disapproval in them marrying. First examine the origin of your feelings of shock, disapproval, and anger. Sometimes parents or other relatives make comments criticizing attraction that is not between a man and a woman. They joke about people who exhibit stereotypical homosexual traits. Some people were scolded, shamed, or severely punished when they didn’t fit into society’s mannerisms, or were seen sexually experimenting with peers of the same sex. Did any of this happen to you?
What do you see in two men or two women’s commitment to love and share their lives that is perverse and needs curing?
Throughout world history there have been same-sex unions. It is only in recent history that the power of patriarchy and heterosexism can repress and constrict the many ways of having sexual and loving partnerships. Centuries of European domination over India and much of the world may be largely responsible for this conditioning.
There are myths in Indian literature, including the Kama Sutra, about same-sex relationships. Additionally, the erotic temples in Khajuraho, India have sculptures depicting homosexual and bisexual sex. The Muslim culture in Persia and Jews in Northern Spain have stories of men loving men. Could this all be symbolic or only platonic? In light of the existence of healthy people seeking same sex partners, I think not.
Q: My partner of eight years and I just got married in San Francisco after Valentine’s Day. We are both women and have lived together in a monogamous relationship for six years. When we moved in together as a couple our parents thought it was strange and didn’t believe that our lives would be complete without husbands. They also worried what our relatives would think.
We all worked very hard to deal with our differences. We got together often for dialogues. My mother would start crying and grieve for a traditional Hindu wedding. My spouse’s father shouted at both of us for becoming Americanized and shaming the family. Our siblings had mixed reactions—tremendous support and questions. They wondered how we would influence their kids. Many of us got together regularly to have this kind of honest sharing. At times my partner and I wanted to just leave the entire family and be free to have our own life far away. At other times we felt the tremendous caring, pain, and love beneath the worries, fears, disappointment, and lack of understanding.
Now that we are married by the state, there is another level of respect by families. They have also suggested that we have some form of Indian ceremony to commemorate our legal marriage and our eight-year anniversary.
A: Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story. You’ve had an extraordinary experience. It took a lot from everyone in your amazing and diligent family to come this far. This is an example of a tight-knit Indian family going beyond their biases to transform, embrace, and truly come to acceptance and love of difference. You, your spouse, and families can be an inspiration to many others!
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in Palo Alto and San Francisco. (415) 205-4666. www.wholenesstherapy