'Badhaai Do' trailer sheds light on lavender marriages: All you need to know about it and why it could hurt LGBTQ cause in India

A lavender marriage is described as a wedding of convenience between a man and a woman in which one, or both, parties are homosexual

FP Staff January 28, 2022 18:56:26 IST
'Badhaai Do' trailer sheds light on lavender marriages: All you need to know about it and why it could hurt LGBTQ cause in India

Image used for representational purposes only. Pixabay

Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar’s hotly-anticipated movie Badhaai Do dropped its trailer on 25 January and since then it has generated a lot of buzz over its portrayal of a ‘lavender marriage'.

We take a look at what exactly is a lavender marriage and why its portrayal could affect the LGBTQ fight for equality.

Lavender marriage explained

The trailer shows Bhumi as Suman Singh, a 31-year-old physical education teacher, who is interested in women. She marries a cop named Shardul Thakur (Rajkummar) to escape the pressure of their families.

Suman and Shardul have the arrangement to live like 'roommates' but chaos ensues when her girlfriend (Chum Darang) comes to stay with them. Things get further complicated when their families begin pressuring them to have a baby.

The last scene of the trailer reveals Rajkummar's secret - he, too, is homosexual.

As explained by the trailer, a lavender marriage is described as a marriage between a man and a woman in which one, or both, parties are homosexual. Usually, but not always, both parties are assumed to be complicit in a public deception to hide their homosexuality.

The phrase itself came into colloquial use during the 1920s.

Lavender Marriages aren't new and was very common before World War II, when public figures and celebrities would hide their sexual preferences — because it was such a taboo — and get married, so as to have a stable career in the film industry.

Arouba Kabir, a mental health counsellor and a wellness coach, was quoted as telling Indian Express, that 'lavender marriages’ are over a 100 years old.

"This form of marriage can be understood as an 'act of convenience' for creating a public deception when two individuals — usually a male and a female — come together secretly harbouring their mixed orientation."

Examples of lavender marriages

There have been quite a few lavender marriages in the past. According to History.com, these weddings were normalised as big Hollywood studios had a 'moral clause' for every actor in which a gay actor or actress had to keep their sexual preferences hidden.

To give the appearance of being straight—and often at the insistence of their agents or studio—homosexual entertainers would sometimes marry a person of the opposite sex.

One of the most prominent examples was of Rock Hudson. In 1955, the Hollywood heartthrob’s career was threatened when reporters at Confidential magazine were to publish an article exposing Hudson’s closeted behaviour.

His agent, in an attempt to squash the story, hastily arranged for Hudson to marry his pretty, young secretary, Phyllis Gates. Gates always insisted that it was a legitimate marriage, not a lavender one. But most people maintained that Rock Hudson was legitimately gay.

Another example is that of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Judy Garland’s husband lived as an openly gay man in New York for a number of years before hitting it big in Hollywood. It was the restraints of Hollywood’s morality clauses that forced Minnelli back in the closet. Apparently, Garland was well-aware of his lifestyle and went ahead and had a child with him — Liza Minnelli.

Why it could hurt the LGBTQ fight?

While Badhaai Do is being hailed for its depiction of homosexuality, the depiction of the lavender marriage could be problematic at a time when the LGBT community is fighting for equal rights in India.

Lavender marriages reflect that homosexuals in Indian society still face pressures to keep their sexual preferences in the closet — a step back from trying to achieve equality.

Moreover, through its depiction we are normalising this practice and sending out the message that a marriage of convenience is better than living a life of a gay person.

One must keep in mind that the Delhi High Court is hearing pleas on same-sex weddings and the matter is listed for 3 February this year.

With inputs from agencies

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