ĎMy son is gay, and Iím proud of himí

Bina Guha Thakurta

Parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children go to the Supreme Court to weigh in on the debate over same-sex relationship. The story of how they came to accept and understand their children.

In the office of Minna Saran, the manager of a beauty salon in

Le Meridien, Delhi, nymphets with flowers in their hair gaze out of gilt-edged frames on the walls, and ceramic angels sidle up close to fuzzy ducks and bunnies on the shelves. At her desk, with a sweeping view of central Delhi filling the window behind her, and a portrait of her son Nishit beside her, Saran herself is all steely-eyed, unsentimental resolve. The lead signatory on a special leave petition she has signed with 18 other parents, she is determined, on her

son's behalf, to defeat the self-elected guardians of "family values"

who oppose the Delhi High Court's July 2, 2009 judgment which read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law that criminalises "unnatural offences", including consensual same-sex unions. "If we have legal, human rights, as citizens of this country, why should our children be denied these rights?" she says hotly. "When they're toppers or go to Harvard, they're acclaimed. Should they be ridiculed just because they have special preferences?"

She may not have had far to go, but Saran has still come a long way from when her son came out to her on camera, in his moving 1999 documentary Summer in My Veins. "You're joking. You like to shock people," she had said to him then, adding, with a near-imperceptible wince, "Are you going around with...men?" With his calm reply, "I have," her disbelief and shock turned, in an instant, to total acceptance: "You're my son. I'm not going to be ashamed of what you do, or who you are. Till the time I'm alive, I'm with you, I'm with you, I'm with you." Nishit died in a car accident shortly after, in 2002. "Talking about all this takes me back," she says,

... contd.

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