Mr.Gay India

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.

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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”

http://vaivaswat.rediffblogs.com/

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.

http://queerindia.blogspot.com/

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.

http://talkingclosets.blogspot.com/

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.

http://insmallpieces.blogspot.com/

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.

http://mumbaikarindelhi.blogspot.com/

Addendum

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!

http://engayginglife.blogspot.com/

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.

28 thoughts on “Mr.Gay India

  1. although i personally am yet to come to terms with calling them ‘perfectly’ normal, it is now a fact that queers do exists. and with sexuality coming out of the closet in our society, we get to know more and more about them.

    i don’t think i am scared of them, or have anything against them. i feel they are, just like the rest of us, creations of nature. and it is for this reason that they must be respected.

    the law, like many others, is archaic. hope they do something about it soon.

    i once had this guy sitting next to me in the bus actually feel me up. and i was what, hardly 16 years of age. it took me a while to figure it out, and when i did, i politely refused and changed my seat. it did leave a bad taste then, but now, looking back, i would forgive the guy. big deal. yes.

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  2. Enjoyed reading this post. You should write more on law, sexuality rights than write about movie reviews. The way you write these issues on your blog makes an impact. Why not try writing for a social blog/ website. You would be an asset.

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  3. Sorry, don’t agree to your viewpoint at all.. why discriminate individuals as gay, lesbian or straight. human beings are human beings. Zoltan is just a guy with a different sexual orientation. I think he has the right to choose what he wants. Why degrade humans in the name of social activitism??

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  4. I am a 43 year old married woman with two teenage kids. If I had come across articles like this before I got married I would have saved myself 14 years of trouble trying to think that my husband thinks of me as another human being. A woman = Vagina + Boobs.This is the simple equation of women for men. If they are nice to you it is because they want to get laid. The over eager make the mistake of making the move too fast grossing the girl out.The smooth operators know how to woo, wine and dine to get to their ultimate goal. A woman is like food. The attractive ones are like rare treats, the plain ones like ordinary food you can suffice on if you cannot get a treat.

    For friendship companionship and conversation they have their men pals. Tell this to the young girls and they will behave exactly like I behaved at their age…like I am a frustrated embittered bitch. Sigh!

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  5. @SP

    Ok, it was for the hmm post, that’s what I was thinking such thoughtful comment but I can’t establish the context.

    About the comment, mam at your age when you say if you woudl have read the article before your marriage you’d have saved yourself 14 years of trouble, I think my existence on earth have been justified today, my 3 years of writing in public media is justified.

    Thanks a lot mam. And I know there is much more about your life that you want to share, you should blog too…do you?

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  6. @Sanjukta @SM

    your tweet followed me to your blog, read all related articles about your insights on Indian male psyche.

    It seem you have sense of hostility about all the guys you met. But as other said in the comments too.. All are not the same.
    Men do have higher sexual urge, its biological. So dealing with men is essentially up to individuals. Relationships can be extremely delightful and extremely painful too. It is again the probability of choosing the right mix.

    Last Night i was reading a story on Tehleka http://www.tehelka.com/story_main38.asp?filename=hub120408personalhistories.asp
    the woman has opposite viewpoint , to what you guys have.

    Personally for me woman != Vagina + Boobs , for me woman = emotions + support + care …

    Cheers !
    Jasdeep

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  7. Thank you Sanjukta. I don’t blog, but many of my female friends and colleagues are telling me to. So I will start and you will be the first person to get the link! Keep blogging and inspiring us women!

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  8. @Jasdeep: You know even after what I have gone through I am not embittered or hostile towards men, because I have decided after years of weeping and ranting that I cannot let people influence my life and happiness. I will be happy if I chose to be and vice versa! Today I am and acknowledged at work place and outside as one of the most pleasant person people have come across. Your experiences shape you. I chose not to get embittered!

    What I have written here carried not even an iota of bitterness. You have much to learn in life. It is when you will have a daughter that you will feel the real thing!

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  9. I came across this news tonight. I’m not gay. But I feel sorry for the plight that the LGBTs in the country go through. Zoltan has made India proud. He is a brave guy. Well done Zoltan!!

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  10. I definitely am proud of Parag, and really appreciate his courage.

    I would like to contribute in what i call, YUGYAG era.. era of a gay guy in reverse.. :)

    I read the definition under sec 377, but today there are many gays who are not interested in anal sex . Me being one. What about people like me. My being gay is legal or is it still illegal.

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  11. Thanks for the post, Sanjukta! I have been planning a post on Indian gay bloggers (especially female), but have struggled to get good ones. Your post is a good pointer.

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  12. nice post. You know something when people are supporting for same sex partners the first thing they say is “im not gay. but…” dont you think this hurts. when people support for women rights they dont start with the statement “im not a woman”. people are so scared to support because others may think that they are one of the group. if this changes in this country everything will be proper. nobody will be ashamed of being themselves.

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  13. Everyone has good points on this issue. As a gay American I can only say this. Activism helps. Lobbying, being vocal, getting out to the media, communication with others, even these blogs, even a write up in a local paper. It all helps eventually. Oppressionisnt won over night. It takes a long hard battle even to win the slightest gain… In the end is it worth it? If you believe it will help the greater good, and convince others of such then you havent lost at all.
    India Law says it is a crime because of unnatural sex… 54 genes are link to sexual orientation, animals commit same sex behavior, homosexuality has existed since mankind, and will continue to… It is natural, and anyone that says different is ignorant. Look towards scientific research for examples Simon LeVay has done some amazing studies.
    Uniting together will only help gain the attention, and respect that the LGBT community deserves, and not just for Indias sake, but for all of the world. Never forget the Ancient Indian Ideal
    “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – the whole world is one family.
    We are all in this together.

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  14. Zoltan Parag lives in New York, and he is a choreographer now, for a company called bollyarts. he has changed his name to Zol,.

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  15. “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.”

    why leave the women out of this homophobic saga. they are equally homophobic as their male counterparts. I remember watching brokeback mountain in a delhi theatre and all these women, some of them urban english educated young kept commenting “how disgusting, how disgusting, god knwos how can a man kiss another man….how disgusting, can’t they get a woman?” they kept saying this, some sitting in front row before me, and some in the rear row…till one of the men stood up and asked them to leave or shut up and watch.

    Secondly, I have also seem many women in acedemic conferences (read feminist issue based) where women have registered facial disgust (not vocally, as it would/ might seem politically wrong) at those papers which were on lebians and gay men in india.

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  16. hmm i read the article…….. donno whether after 377 is decriminalized…we will be able to live life as we want. The society doesnot want us to be gay or bi… they force us to marry a gal…..and think everything will be fine. Its ok atleast by next generation time..after may be 20-30 yrs..the condition will be relaxed and gay ppl will start living together as fixed couples.

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  17. This guy…ZOL…was my senior in our design school….He was fame hunger, tried to be cool, “well a man in know from his intelligence and hardwork”…we could see he was dumb, trying to be something else, He had the hottest girl then with him all the time and look fOr fame, see what has he done to himself, “he is just FAKE”

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