What Does The Label Read ?

Remember walking into a store and looking around when you find the perfect pair of shoes? You pick it up, turn it around and read the label. You put it back down because it’s way too expensive. You mentally think it needs to be cheaper but that does not mean you suddenly think the shoes are ugly. They’re still perfect but just not what you would choose for yourself. So you walk away. You don’t stand there and scream. You don’t rally outside the store. You don’t hold placards and demand a law against the price. You definitely don’t send the store owner hate mails and death threats.

There was this couple. They met in high school. Shared an apartment in college. A few years after graduation, they got engaged. The guy got diagnosed with cancer shortly after. They stuck together through it and after he’d won the battle, they got married. They couldn’t have a kid, so they adopted one. Their love story has inspired many in their town. It was the kind of love we dream of. The kind we read of. The big, fancy, whole-hearted love that makes your heart melt. But that love came with a label – Gay.

He was perfect. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really want to be caught in a relationship. So was he. We were compatible and he could have very well been The One. But every time we talked I wanted him to say the word. I kept thinking ‘What will the world say about me if he didn’t give me that title? Won’t they judge me?’ I ruined what could have been an incredible thing by waiting for a label – Girlfriend.

He hit her everyday. He abused her. Physically. Mentally. She was in pain all day, everyday. But she tried to make it work. She believed she can change him. For years she put up with trauma while hoping that her life will get better. One fine day, she couldn’t take it anymore. She made the decision to leave. She wanted a brand new start. But people looked down on her. Guys thought twice before dating her. They didn’t know her story. They just knew the label – Divorcee.

He knew who he was. He’s known it since the day he was born. His parents had difficulty accepting him. He struggled as he grew up. He tried to get society to accept him for who he was. A society that looked at his body and not his mind. A society that was confused because he didn’t look the part he was playing. So they tried to convince him. To change him. When they couldn’t, they simply gave him a label – Transgender.

Ugly. Pretty. Hindu. Muslim. American. Indian. Fat. Thin. Well-dressed. Shabby.

We are surrounded by labels. We label every person we see on the street. We label our friends, our relatives. Some of us have said to ourselves, “I don’t care for the label. I just want to be.” But peer pressure changes that. Social standards gives us the need to be labelled.

I knew a girl who captioned her wedding picture – “I’m a wife !” Ok.. So what ?! Did you love him any less yesterday? Do you now plan to wear sweatpants for the rest of your life?

I get it when someone says “We’re married !” It is a beautiful thing. I do believe a relationship changes after marriage. It is somehow more special in an unexplainable way. But it bothers me when the first thing someone wants to flaunt about it is the label.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I very strongly believe “Love is love.” Have you seen certain people at a wedding – they cry when they hear the vows? When the rings are exchanged? When the promises are made? Have you seen the exact same person stand out on the street and chant “Say no to homo” ? So what were the tears of joy at the wedding for? The bride’s dress? The groom’s tux? The flower girl’s hair? If it was at the sight of true love, then why does it have to change with the label?

Every war has two sides. Both sides with children and elderly. But we don’t see that. We don’t think “That child is just like any other child.” We just go with the label. What if we stopped doing that? What if we took that label away?

When you disagree with the label you see at the store, you walk away. Why can’t you do that with people? So he’s fat. She’s black. They’re gay. Why does that change the way you look at that person? And if we are so desperate to put a label for every person we see on the street, here’s the easiest one – Human Being. Everyone deserves to be treated the same way. Every love deserves a chance. Every darkness deserves a dawn. And if you still feel an undying need to judge someone and label them, I advise you to start with the person in the mirror.

So go on. Go stare at the mirror. Look deep into their eyes. Feel their emotions. Understand their love. Remember their path. And while you’re at it, tell me – What does the label read ?

“Homosexuality – Love in its purest form : Illegal”

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but when I watched fairytales as a kid, I didn’t really melt over the concept of a man and woman getting together. I connected with the love that lasts happily ever after. That kind of love that saw no bounds. Like the love from a mother to her child, the love you feel for your first best friend, the love you have for someone that helped you when you were living your worst nightmare, the love you have for your father, your siblings..

Ultimately, the love you feel when you find that one person that fires up your heart. The person who makes your eyes shine with unknown emotions every time they walk in to the room. The person who brings you out of your shell and makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. Someone who accepts you for who you are instead of what they want you to be.

That’s how one feels about their hometown as well. It’s the place that saw you through your good times and bad. The place that lit you up when you felt low. The place where you grew up. The place where you learnt good from bad. The place where you figured out who you are.. The reason it holds that soft spot in your mind is because no matter where you go or who you become, if you ever forget yourself, you come back home and it’ll remind you..

But imagine not having the ability to be yourself at home? The place that’s supposed to support you is now asking you to retreat your steps until you’re back in that closet.. Now, shut the door and hide there. Because if you dare to walk out, you’ll be jailed.

I woke up this afternoon and did the first thing I do everyday. Facebook. The first post on my NewsFeed :-

“Homosexuality illegal : Supreme Court.”

It took me a good two minutes to gather my thoughts and my emotions and I realized, I wasn’t just hurt or upset. I was outraged. This was by far the most ridiculous thing my country had ever done. Which was surprising considering how many they’ve been doing lately. Every time my mother left my country to go visit another one she would say, “Nothing like India. The friendliness, the hospitality, the love.. You can’t find it anywhere else.” Today, I had something to prove her wrong. Because, today, my country had chosen not to support love. Today, my country shut its doors on kids, adults that were not like them. Today, my country chose to say I will love you for what I want you to be, not for who you are. Today, my country decided to turn its back on the people that need its acceptance and love the most.

Remember that feeling I was talking about? That love that turns your world upside down? Making you look at things differently and feel things differently? Here’s the problem with that. Your emotions don’t see what the world and your brain asks you to. Your emotions don’t know caste, race, ethnicity or gender. Your emotions don’t understand the difference between a man, a woman and a transgender. Like the famous romantic-comedy movie title, Love Happens.. You can’t stop it and you can’t run away from it and you sure as hell cannot turn it off just because the people around you think it’s unnatural, immoral and “disease spreading.”

I would like to think that well-educated, well-knowledged people would have the ability to understand something this simple. LOVE IS LOVE. No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you do or how you look. Homosexuality is proof for that.

Someday, this decision will change. Someday, my country, like many others, will pick love over laws. Until that day, I will stand strong and fight for those people who deserve the chance to love and be loved. I will fight till those closet doors break open. I will fight till the people around me can turn those doors to wings and fly high, showing off who they are, with pride, for every one to see. Until that day..