Mr. Gay contest 2008 results are out. India is not the winner. 33 year old Carlos Fabian Melia from Argentina is. However for the Indian gay community and other gender benders, Indian contestant, 26 year old Mumbai based model Zoltan Parag is no less than a winner. Zoltan may not have won the contest but he sure did made a lot of us proud.
I admire Zolan’s guts to come out with his sexuality and to be the first Indian to participate any such contest given that he might well be booked under the criminal law of the country. Many at the contest thought Zoltan stood a good chance merely because of his courage alone.
I wanted to know more about Zoltan so googled for him. Used various combinations, but couldn’t find any significant information except a few repetitive lines. Found this blog post where the author has spoken about Poornima Advani’s homophobia and found a few news article.
Being a new media evangelist, I expected this invisible section of our society to express themselves freely through blogs. But I couldn’t found many quality blogs to be honest. One reason could be that they are yet to explore blogs as a medium. The other of course is the social stigma behind being homosexual.
Indian homosexuals are an invisible bunch of people. Coming out with homo-sexuality is threatened with criminal prosecution and social ostracism.
Section 377 of the IPC criminalize homosexuality. Not in that term but in effect. It reads,
‘Whoever has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life’.
The words “against the order of nature” can be interpreted in a number of ways but is mostly interpreted as anal sex. It also penalizes sexual acts like oral sex, regardless of whether it is heterosexual or homosexual; even penile-masturbation of one person by another – is considered criminal (basically they wanted to penalize everything that is not the missionary / Victorian penile vaginal penetration meant for procreation)
A non legal person often wonders, ‘how would the law (police, court) ever find out what two people are doing behind the closed doors?’ The thing about criminal law is that, a prosecution can be initiated on a third party complaint. Which means even if the person reporting the crime has got nothing to do with the victim or the oppressor the police is bound to take an action. And the third party complaint might well be by the police itself.
In some of the horrendous incidents of police brutalities, queers from the lower class and caste have been humiliated and tortured by conducting anal inspection on them to determine if the said crime have been committed. For the police, one of the easiest way to extort money from a gay couple hanging around the Ulsoor Lake area would be – a threat of arrest under this section. Funnily, enough there have been reports of gay sex workers being raped by hetero-sexual police “men.”
It was only recently that queer activists in India raised a protest against this 150 year old law introduced by the British Raj. In December 2002 Naz Foundation filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to challenge the section in the Delhi High Court on the grounds that, by prohibiting private, consensual sex, the section violates the right to privacy.
It has been a long standing trend, not only just in India but all across the Globe, to wrap rights related to sexuality under some health issue before they can be sought and lobbied for.
For the first time, through this petition, the slogan of right to chose one’s own sexuality have been raised. The text of the petition and other legal developments can be found in Lawyer’s Collective’s website here. The petition got significant support from various Delhi based NGOs who eventually formed into a coalition called Voices Against 377
The social ostracism queers have to face is even worse than police torture. There prevails a blanket homo-phobia in the society, more particularly amongst patriarchal hetero sexual man whose man hood is his honour (which basically is in his D*&$). This ‘man’ refuses to recognize a gay as ‘man’. A gay is called by names, looked down upon, made fun of, looked at with suspicion. For an heterosexual man the idea that a man can be physically attracted to another man is scary and disgusting. I often hear they say, “what if he feels me up”
And I am talking about urban, English speaking men here. The other day I was talking to a friend whose socio political understanding, outlook and inclination earns a huge amount of respect from me but it made me sad to know he is a homophobic. And I just cannot come to terms with that. This homophobia leads to social ostracism. Like he said, he wouldn’t not be friends with a gay, says he won’t even like to be seen hanging around with a gay.
I don’t know what the RSS thinks about this law, but to me this law is more against the Indian culture than protecting it. Homosexuality have always been a part of Indian culture. One can find mention of the transgender Shikhandi in the Mahabharata. Yet it is so difficult being a homosexual in India. If anybody has any knowledge on what stand does RSS / BJP has on Section 377 please share with me. I am curious to know.
This post is getting long yet there are a lot that can be written on this topic. As of now I’ll close it by aggregating some of the interesting blogs written by homosexual authors. I know, none of the popular blog aggregators subscribe to these blogs, I also know 95% readers of this present blog don’t read any such blog but may be today you should take a look at the other world.
I. While searching I first stumbled upon Jalaj’s blog ‘A Gay Delhi Guy At The Crossroads’. To quote the author from one of his posts,
“I decided that when I would start writing a blog , I would state it on the masthead that this is a blog written by a GAY individual. Period. Anyone who sees the website sees ‘Gay Delhi guy…’ There is no place for beating about the bush here”
II. Queer India by Nitin Karani. There is an incredible quote line in the description of the blog which caught my attention.
“Oppression can only survive through silence.” -Carmen de Monteflores
This blog is about looking at queer issues and culture through my eyes…It will also be of interest to people interested in sexuality, gender, pop culture and queer activism.
III. Confessions. Confusion. Connotations. Conundrums. And Close Talk.
Didn’t read this blog in details but it has got an interesting look to it. Found the link from Jalaj’s blog and I’ll quote Jalaj here, “
One great thing about our lovable Bong-Boy is his honesty. Most guys you meet love assuming a holier-than-thou posture on matters sexual and simultaneously lust after every piece of new flesh their eyes can humanly feast on. Bong boy lives life kingsize (size does matter…) and wears it on his sleeve.
IV. In small pieces by Monica Mody. A friend who is a lawyer, a poet and a queer activist. She is not blogging these days for some reasons but do check out the archives.
V. Lesley E (writes by the name Bombay Boy), a queer activist and an editor in a leading English magazine, I have met her couple of times while attending the voices meetings. I personally admire her personality and attitude.
VI. Kris Bass from Mumbai, India writes this blog called “Engayging Life… of a queer, amateur songwriter and a bassist”
And this is what he has written in his about me.
As I foray into the depths of adulthood striving to be independent, my life evolves… along with myself. A story of my life as a lover-boy, surgeon, bass player, band-member, friend and an ultimately private lousy arse!
From the above link I found links to a whole lot of other gay blogs but I am not linking them here right now coz I didn’t read them. But I’ll keep adding to this list.
Meanwhile, Monica moved from her blog to another one where she mainly publishes her poetry, (she is an awesome poet btw) and she and Lesely together write a colla-blog called, “Kaun Jaaye Zauq“. They insist you read the blog to figure out what’s the name is about. Besides these two I can’t find many Lesbian Bloggers in India.