Identity Movements – LGBTQ and American civil rights movements


Identity movements seek to enhance the acceptability of certain individual characteristics like colour, sex, sexual preferences as definitions of who people are. These movements are also widely used by in sociology to describe the deployment of the category of identity as a means to make political manifestos or promote political ideologies. In this context, let’s discuss the identity movements led by the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) and that of the blacks in the USA.

LGBTQ movement in India:

Identity is on the inside as opposed to the outside. Most people define others by the outside based on one’s colour, based on one’s religion, and based on one’s environment, all of the external things that make one think that is who they are. The Indian society has always forgotten of the third gender and the queers. The British introduced Section 377 which declared homosexuality is against nature. The first recorded protest for gay rights took place in 1992 though nothing came of it. The life of the peoples of this community was horrendous.

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According to members of this community, they value equality and respect the most. They believe that just the regular norms that are applicable to everyone else are applicable to them as well and sexual orientation doesn’t change the way these norms apply. But they are all treated very badly. Not only by peers and the general public but also by their very own families. Another important part of this discussion is religion. Catholics believe in no other union than that of a man and a woman and it gets very hard for people surrounded by Catholics to endure their sexuality. In fact, there was a time when bakers in the USA, who were Catholic, didn’t take orders for baking cakes for homosexual weddings saying it was against their religion. Muslims, too, don’t support homosexuality. Hindus, on the other hand, don’t support the same but many ancient scriptures have cited homosexuality.

According to The Quint, the majority of women (by gender) in India who are homosexuals can’t even tell their own parents of their sexuality. They end up marrying men and even give birth to babies. They lead their lives just like every other woman and are sad they can’t lead a life of their choice.

The Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality by considering this section unconstitutional. Families will now understand the value of having people who are different and don’t fit the usual norm of being either a woman or a man. This will create diversity and also provides an alternative way of looking at love and life. Schools will teach the pupils that there are people around us who are different and it’s also normal. This change has helped reduce inequalities and also provide justice to the community. But there is still no acceptance in the society and many couples even flee from their hometowns so as to be together. The decriminalization of homosexuality is a huge step taken by India but the members of this community still don’t have any rights as such.

American civil rights movement:

The American civil rights movement in the USA was aimed at deriving rights for the Black people who were denied of the rights that the Whites had just because of colour. This movement was hugely supported by whites as well and many rose up to fight the social systems and the authorities that provided them these rights.

After the American civil war, slaves who were deported to the USA from Africa by the British during the colonial period were granted citizenship as African Americans. They were also given franchise. But, by ignoring the laws, many states even passed bills that asserted the blacks as inferior citizens. There was discrimination between the Blacks and the Whites everywhere. The Blacks were supposed to sit at the back in buses. They had to give their seats to Whites whenever asked for. Agitated, the Blacks decided upon revolting against the government to have a bill passed so as to provide them with the civil rights as well. They chose Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as their leader.

They fought for about a decade and finally won their rights. The then President signed the Civil Rights Act which forbade discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, colour, national origin, religion as such. It gave every citizen the right to use public property, get employed and also vote.

Every set of peoples has a different attribute which sets it apart. But the practice of one prevailing over the other is a very big issue since this might endanger and subdue the other one. And this is the reason why people protest when their existence is in question.

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An undergraduate student of Arts, Uma Sathwika is studying in the University of Delhi. She is ardent about writing things- things that truly matter with great intricacy