Rasika Gopalakrishnan and girlfriend Shivangi Singh’s had to face a harrowing ordeal at the Slate Hotels on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Chennai on July 28. They have accused the hotel of homophobic treatment as they were asked to leave the premises for indulging in “inappropriate behavior”, which they have denied.
The two young women, both in their twenties, had gone to The Slate Hotels bar in the evening and a then moved to the dance floor. They allege that even at the bar, they were conscious of being stared at and their consciousness of a hostile environment intensified on the dance floor. People were staring, they said.
The stares didn’t stop, said the girls, who described the environment as “homophobic”. Following this, Rasika said the two of them went to the washroom. In her Facebook post that went viral, Rasika says, Moments later, we hear frantic knocks on our door, ordering us to step out of the washroom. 4 male bouncers and 1 female bouncer were inside the washroom, demanding to know what we were doing in the washroom together. They accused us of “doing something else”, they warned us about “several complaints” they had received from the guests, and they insisted that we leave immediately. So we left.
None of the customers intervened. Several news organisations tried to get an explanation from the hotel, and at first none seemed forthcoming. Since then, the hotel has completely denied the two women’s version of the events and hints that it is itself the victim of a “media conspiracy orchestrated by two students.”
Interestingly, the women said they had been threatened with a video that the hotel said it had of them behaving inappropriately, but when they insisted on being shown the footage, the management backed off.
The couple added,
”First of all, there is nothing inherently wrong about making out, but here’s the thing, we didn’t. We didn’t allow ourselves that kind of straight privilege. As a same-sex couple our display of affection towards each other is socially outlawed”.
Since then, the women have received plenty of support in the form of Facebook comments and their story has been extensively covered by mainstream and digital media. The general opinion seems to be that moral policing needs to be exposed, and that it is completely unfair for members of the LGBTQ community to be made to feel uncomfortable for having different moral standards from the majority in society.
It is sad that Rasika and Shivangi need to justify themselves because ”their love does not fit into society’s idea of love”. Moral policing needs to stop and needs to stop at the earliest. No amount of technological advancement and brouhaha can compensate for the lack of acceptance that has come to become synonymous with us Indians. Acceptance, as they say, begins one step at a time.
So to Rasika, Shivangi and the countless victims of toxic masculinity, patriarchy, and judgmental society, I say sorry for all that you’ve had to endure and I hope and pray that society becomes more accepting to all you beautiful people and that one fine day, love will triumph over hate.