Being gay in India

While a colonial clause is being argued in court, Nithin Manayath, a lecturer, traces the upbeat and varied journey of India’s gay community in the last decade. From Tehelka:

I am 30 years old, a queer man who teaches in a women’s college in Bangalore. With the Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and NACO both arguing that Section 377, the law that criminalises homosexuality, should be done away with, it seems like we ought to be looking at the present as a historic moment in the lives of gay and lesbian people in India. The euphoria in the sexuality movement and the day-to-day wartime reporting of proceedings in the Delhi High Court certainly lends itself to momentous events. But I am also uncomfortably aware that in the decade since I first met another gay man, a more complicated and colourful revolution has been underway without courtroom drama.

I was already wading through a series of sexual and romantic relationships before I read anew, at age 14, the word ‘homosexual’. I felt a ripple of identification. In the stodgy marriage manual that I read it in, it only meant a sexual act. It was later, in the mid-1990s, that the word ‘gay’ would suddenly illuminate for me why my schoolboy relationships never transformed into the forever of romantic love: because the other in each instance was never really gay. (I would have to wait till 2001, when an encounter with one of the most enduring figures of the sexuality movement in India would challenge this assumption.)


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