The opening game of the 2018 Women’s World T20 game between India and New Zealand at Providence, Guyana saw Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur create history with a stunning century to give her team a stunning win over the White Ferns.
Kaur’s knock was not the only significant moment on that day. It was the first time that audiences witnessed a lesbian couple take to the field in a major ICC tournament. Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu created their own slice of history when they played in the World T20 as a married couple.
Satterthwaite, the ODI player of the year in 2017 for her four consecutive centuries, got engaged to Tahuhu, considered one of the quickest woman bowler, in 2014 and they officially tied the knot in March 2017. In an interview to stuff.co.nz earlier in the year, Tahuhu talked about her relationship, “We take it as an opportunity that if one person reads this, or hears about us, and it helps that one person that might be struggling a little bit, then I think that’s a really great thing for us to be able to do.”
Greater acceptance in women’s cricket
Following on the footsteps of Satterthwaite and Tahuhu, South Africa woman skipper Dane van Niekerk married her team-mate Marizanne Kapp in July 2018 and they will become the second-openly lesbian couple of play in the World T20 in West Indies.
Even in the Australian team, there are a couple of players who have openly professed their lesbian orientations. Elyse Vilani, who forced Australian society to look into the mirror when she openly declared she was a lesbian in 2015, is reportedly in a relationship with fellow team-mate Nicole Bolton. After Australia voted Yes to same sex marriage in November 2017, Megan Schutt announced on her Instagram page that she was ‘planning a marriage’ soon with her fiancée Jess Holyoake.
The presence of so many lesbian couples of women’s cricket on the biggest stage gives the tournament a magnificent and colourful twist. Tahuhu, in fact, remarked that being lesbian does not really change the dynamics of the team. In the same interview to stuff.co.nz, Tahuhu said, “You have a bit of a closer bond in the team environment, which is natural. It's the same if there are a pair of sisters in the team, or brothers playing.”
The statement by Tahuhu and the camaraderie in the women’s game has shown how high the levels of acceptance are. This is in stark contrast to Indian society, where homophobic jokes are prevalent and openly talking about sexual orientation is scorned despite scrapping Article 377.
Hard in India despite Sec 377 scrap
In September 2017, the Supreme Court struck down a legal provision in Article 377 that criminalised same-sex relationships. The judgment has become a major turning point for Indian soceity. However, despite this, it will be hard for Indian players to come out in the open and declare their orientation.
A combination of societal regression, the lingering viewpoint that LGBTQ relationships are un-natural and the patriarchal suppression of women all combine to ensure women and people who are outside the ‘normal norms’ of society face ridicule.
With the presence of so many lesbian couples in the World T20, India, be it players or society, might still not open up about this aspect. The fact that this took place in a stadium named Providence is a great sign.
In the English dictionary, the definition of Providence is a force which is believed by some people to arrange the things that happen to them. It is apt that the first lesbian couple in world cricket had to play together in Providence.