LGBTQIA and Western Ideologies in Nagaland: A discussion

Rambo Ao 
Political Science, 4th Semester, Delhi University 

I would like to preface this by saying, I am currently a university student and these are mere thoughts, opinions and speculations with no factual bindings. It is not meant to cause harm or distress to any community, it is only meant to enhance discussions.

Nagaland prides itself in being a Christian state withholding traditional values based on a heritage that is predominantly conservative in nature. Over time, a major part of Nagaland’s history and past have faded, primarily due to our lack of written history, and our compromise for advancement. Our state is merely 60 years young but since its inception it has been bound by its fair share of controversies; controversies that are still in progression to being solved. Even the subject of our recent past is neither taught comprehensively, nor discussed deliberately. But all this we have endured while keeping our values, traditions, and our own form of morality intact, with Christianity being our guiding principle. 

Nagaland is not only a young state but extremely young intellectually. Most of our grandparents or parents for that matter have come from villages and were not educated in a traditional sense. It is only recently that we have developed intellectually as a state through education, which also helped us realize our identity and values. This current phase of Naga history could prove to be transformatory- a phase after which everything that is, will be; and everything that is lost, left behind. Why? Because in this current phase, we are finally able to communicate and interact with the rest of the world through a common language. By this ability, we can precisely depict what makes us who and what we are, and what does not. This could prove important for the future of our state. Ultimately, the world dictates who and what we are- if and when that time comes, if we are not equipped with the description and knowledge of our own identity and past- we will be subject to whatever the world tells us we are. 

Despite our many wrongs and faults we have survived for centuries, primarily through our way of doing things. This means what we have done, has worked out for us- for better, or worse. So, we should be cautious in replacing our systems for foreign ones.

 As we integrate novel diverse elements into our identity, we seek to gain different perspectives and evolve our ways of thinking but also risk inhibiting our fundamental values. If we begin accepting foreign ideas before establishing our ideals first, we risk losing all we hold dear, so we should be wary of this, lest we lose our identity.  We should not include Western ideologies solely out of compassion or blind acceptance, assuming their superiority; it should stem from discussions and deliberations basing off the ideology’s usefulness. I want to emphasize that all major wars on our planet were fought based on ideological differences, so we too should be prudent.

Discussing this issue of the LGBTQIA, we are faced with the dilemma of acceptance versus tolerance. Is being tolerant of something the same as accepting it? What does acceptance of something truly mean, and how different is it from its tolerance? Toleration basically means allowing the existence of something we don’t agree with; while acceptance means consenting or validating something.

From this 2 fundamental questions arise- “can we tolerate something that we do not accept?” and “can we accept something that we do not tolerate?” The answer could lie in the varying degrees of the toleration and acceptance. For any society to maintain social harmony, embracing diversities and differences are a prerequisite. Even us, as citizens, we daily tolerate and accept our differences without actually comprehending it consciously. We do so, by all our various interactions throughout the day, which are so implicit in society, we don’t even realize it. From this, the reasons for tolerance and acceptance are quite clear- for social harmony and peace. We can tolerate something we don’t accept as we can recognize its existence without actively opposing it; and we can also, accept something that we do not tolerate as we can accept the reality of something without fully endorsing it. Through these definitions of tolerance and acceptance we understand that we can also validate and allow the existence of something without personally participating in it. Now the question of varying degrees of tolerance and acceptance lies ahead. Our Fundamental Rights gives us the freedom of speech and expression. This means that we cannot essentially curtail someone from speaking or expressing themselves- but ones freedom of speech and expression should also not impede the others well being. Freedom of speech and expression implies that something is being propagated because one cannot truly express oneself behind closed doors. So, since it is being propagated we have to decide whether or not, it impedes our well being, and disrupts the sanctity of our values. This is where decisions as a society are made. Another caveat to the varying degrees of tolerance and acceptance can be seen in the magnitude of the density of the situation, like demographic concentration. So broader society generally decides the varying levels of tolerance and acceptance of something. Since, society decides, each of us being a part of society, should choose wisely.        

On this matter, the general consensus among the masses seems to be, anything that is done indoors is no-one’s business. Any form of sexuality can be expressed indoors but should not be flaunted, encouraged, taught and publicized to the children and youth, while they are still in their developmental stage. In this form, it can peacefully coexist and be tolerated, without adulterating the sanctity of our values. The children and youth must first be conscious, of age, and only then be able to judge for themselves whether they belong to the LGBTQIA or not. They should not be indoctrinated while they are still young and naive. This does not mean, discriminate, promote prejudice, bigotry or chauvinism. It only means, we should understand what we want.  We, as independent thinkers, ought to formulate our ideal society and beware of insidious Western ideologies influencing the minds of our Naga youth and children. The old adage of “If we don’t stand for something, we stand for nothing” holds true here.