Save us from the “kindness” of well-wishers.
Once Ghulam Nabi Azad as health minister told a convention on HIV/AIDS that homosexuality was “unnatural”, a “disease” and “not good for India”.
And if there’s a disease, there must be a cure. Goa’s sports and youth minister Ramesh Tawadkar has bravely taken up that cause and declared “We will make them normal.”
Tawadkar has ideas on how to make those pesky gays normal as well. Sports activities. An Alcoholics Anonymous style centre because after all as Baba Ramdev once told us being gay is an “addiction”. Medicines. And to prove that he’s serious about it, and not just blowing hot air, the good minister has promised a “detailed survey” be carried out of the LGBT community just like other target groups like “juvenile offenders, drug afflicted youth, marginalized or migrant youth, geographically disadvantaged youth.” What Tawadkar does not get is many of the problems faced by the LGBT community stem from the stigma accorded them by people like him who think they are "abnormal".
Even as Tawadkar was trying to make gays “normal”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in New Delhi he was “proud to stand for the equality of all people - including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” and laws like Section 377 even if not enforced “breed intolerance.”
What Tawadkar might not know though is that the curing gay business has a long and rich history though the US Surgeon General David Satcher wrote in 2001 that “there is no valid evidence that sexual orientation can be changed”. Before Tawadkar tries to reinvent the wheel he should take a look at some of the options already out there.
Bicycling: American neurologist Graeme Hammond thought homosexuality was rooted in nervous exhaustion and the nervous nellies could be fixed with some good manly bicycling exercise. Tawadkar could approach a cycle company for a public-private partnership. The tagline “Hero Cycles for a better world” could have a whole new meaning. It’s not clear if lesbians can be cured by excessive cycling however.
Yoga: Now that we have a ministry for yoga why not put it to some de-gaying use? Baba Ramdev has already told us he can cure homosexuality at his yoga ashrams. A Baba Ramdev Yoga Ashram for Gays seems just what Goa needs. If that works that would give India one more reason to crow over those Christian ministries that want to “pray the gay away”. Instead we can have yoga a day keeps the gay away. A gay cure that’s also #MadeInIndia no less.
Prostitution: 19th century German psychiatrist Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing thought that a trip to the brothel preceded by lots of drinking was just the thing to fix the homosexual. This sounds a lot more fun than electro-convulsive therapy. The only problem is a lot of heterosexual men might want to pretend to be gay and sign up for the programme. So there needs to be a strict admission test to make sure only 100% certified gays enroll. Also Tawadkar should have a word with his colleague Sudin Dhavalikar who wants to ban bikinis on public beaches of Goa. They should stay in the interest of tempting poor gay men, if noone else.
Electric shock and Nausea: There’s nothing like some nausea-inducing drugs and electric shock to genitals while viewing homoerotic images along with some hypnosis to turn you off homosexuality for good. At least that’s what M. P. Feldman believed his “Aversion therapy” could do. One gay man in a conservative Christian family in rural Iowa described his “Month of Hell” which consisted of tiny needles being stuck into his fingers while he was shown pictures of explicit sex acts between men and then electrocuted. Tawadkar should stay away from that. It might affect Goa’s image as a tourist paradise.
Cocaine: Physician Denslow Lewis thought women had sex with each other because of being brought up in luxury and developing a case of “hyperesthesia” (excessive sensitivity to stimuli). That was in 1899 and we are more hyperesthetic now for sure. His remedy? Cocaine solutions. Saline cathartics. Even strychnine. He claimed a few cures except one of his patients went insane proving that the cure might be worse than the “disease”.
Prayer: When all else fails you can pray the gay away. That’s been the approach of many of the Christian ministries that want to cure homosexuality through prayer. Goa as a state with a large Christian population might think it’s perfectly positioned for this. The only problem is one of the largest ex-gay ministries Exodus International folded in 2013 with an apology to gays and lesbians “for years of undue suffering and judgement at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.” But Dawadkar could rush in where Exodus fears to tread.
Vaccine: A Russian scientist Dr. Dmitri Yuskorov Slamini claimed he has discovered a vaccine that can prevent early symptoms of homosexuality and even cure humans if you catch them early enough. The scientists believe there are too many estrogen mimickers in the modern environment thanks to pollution and that’s what is upsetting the endocrine system. Some prenatally administered testosterone propionate could nip the “gay” in the bud. Russians in Goa have gotten a bad rap lately. This could be how they make up for it.
Come to think of it, a beachfront therapy centre with a little yoga in the morning, hypnosis in the afternoon, and drinks and drugs in the evening does not sound that unappetizing. No wonder a #ClinicBharo hashtag is taking off on Twitter in response to the good minister. @mlechha tweets “Twitter queers & faeries: Use the #ClinicBharo hashtag to tell the Goa govt we’re getting in line for treatment.”
But let’s say this for Tawadkar. At least he does not think gays are unIndian and need to be packed off to Pakistan. He’s even planning to invest state resources in "fixing the problem" instead of throwing Section 377 at it. The minister actually wants to put his money where his mouth is. Unfortunately it also so happens that his foot is currently in his mouth.
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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2015 18:44:11 IST