In Between Straights
edited: Thursday, January 31, 2002
By AMIT GUPTA
Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2001
Become a Fan
THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INDIAN GAYS HOW THEY LIVE. ABOUT THEIR PAINS AND MUCH MORE...
Gays here in India are no different like the gays any where in the world. The mentality, the pains, the emotions, struggles, desires and aspiration are all the same but for one reason and that is the freedom of expression and movements is simply pathetic here.
Men who like men used to gather at chic Delhi farmhouse parties until a year ago when a couple of violent incidents lead to injuries and police raids. Now the action has moved indoors to trendy, new restaurants like Soul Kitchen, which has exclusive gay nights every Thursday, nit to mention several existing bars where gays meet. The biggest meeting place, however, is in cyber sphere. The net has powered gay activity by bringing it in to every street corner cyber cafe and, of course, is to private homes. There are active gay message bords on many Indian sites, gay polls, gay e-zines, gay Agony Aunts and web sites with help lines run by Humrahi and Naz.
Let's unite all of us and take the cyber-bus to Hateless, Tolerant, Peaceville...
No more on the run
Find our place, in the sun
we didn't... but we can...and we will!
This verse on the home page of the web site GayBombay.com reflects the growing feeling among
the community in India. City-specific web sites have significant traffic on dating and chat rooms. Some like DatingDesi.com have given a significant boost to gay activity with hundreds of men advertising for partners-often in explicit, detail, male-on-top details about their expectations.
The gays of India would not come out of their dark, secret hiding due to the tremendous societal and administrative pressures that looms large over their heads. The fear of being ridiculed, and ostracized haunts them forever, quite naturally to all the gays here is India and that is the reason why at most of the cities if India, the gays arrange for secret group meetings and weekend rendezvous. In the secret groups meetings gays of all age and temperaments come together, express them selves, make new friends, companions and life partners and take solace in the fact that they are not alone but others as well like them also present and grappling with the silly orthodoxy of the society in this big bad world of straights.
While a lot of the activity is in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkkata, there are echoes in smaller towns and cities. Support is also coming from outside the gay community.
It's also here that activists like Shaleen Rakesh enter the picture. An engineer-MBA, S. Rakesh turned his back on a promising corporate career after stints with several blue-chip firms to do what he does now. S. Rakesh illustrates the need for spreading awareness among the gay community about HIV and AIDS. Son of the noted Hindi writer Mohan Rakesh, Shaleen believes the changing cultural scenario, satellite TV and the emerging middle class sensibility, which allows people to be seen individuals with their own desires, has resulted is a strong spurt in activity among Indian gays.
"Why should people's right be violated just because they are homosexual?" Wonders Shaleen. Whose besides demanding for men like himself what are very basic human rights.
Citing examples of how apathetic the system is towards those who are part of the struggle, Rakesh talks of Lucknow where the police and the judiciary played havoc with the lives of a small group of men from Bharosa, an NGO working to raise awareness about AIDS and HIV.
At the other end of the social spectrum, the diplomatic crowd has it's fair share of gays. It's
implications for a homophobic society like India are immense. Our social hypocrisy drives those with alternate life style to seek avenues of self-expression under cover of secrecy. But many
others have began to come out in the open.
– Amit Gupta