As I said, I like writing, so yep! You’ll surely get a mail from me in reply to yours. ;-)
How are you doing by the way? How are things around you? I am just generally asking - though I know that you are feeling a bit low of late. So let me jump in immediately and address the letter you sent my way.
When I was young, I was incredibly effeminate as well. :) It is only when I am really close to someone that I behave in a carefree manner, and sometimes, the way I used to be pokes out its head. Not because I don't want it to or that I am uncomfortable with it – but because after so many years of realizing who I am, I really do not care about what other people think.
No! It is because now I am conditioned in behaving like the 'normal' stereotype ... when I was a teenager, I was the object of ridicule, and in more ways than one, I have changed accordingly to suit society's norm. Eventually, I realized it was just not worth it; because I changed to suit other people's demands of how a guy 'should' behave. In effect, I realized also that I would only be lying and hurting myself, for I would never get any recompense from society.
I found, as I grew, society never returns any consideration. I also grew enough to think that if I keep changing as per the standards of this hypocritical society that we live in, then soon enough, it would expect me to change my sexual orientation and not just my mannerisms. This was when I had reached my twentieth year, and that was when I decided enough was enough! So, I chucked the way I used to think and emancipated my thinking further. I am an individual. Made the way God created me so why, in God’s name, should I change, according to the whims, fancies and prejudices of human beings?
This is one of the foremost and main reasons why I never look down upon effeminate guys. Mainly because that is not something that they do purposely, they are just made that way. And I certainly expect gay people to understand this, because if we start discriminating against people of our own orientation, what understanding do we expect from the straight world? It just relates to my theory of being confident about what you are and what your place in this beautiful world of ours is.
Secondly, and just as important, it is the effeminate guys who have the biggest balls. :) Truly speaking, it takes guts to sashay down a main road, dressed in flamboyant red pants with an orange scarf around your neck, declaring your taste in guys for the world to see. If it were not for them, all gay men would be in the closet – technically, homosexuality would never have gained the attention and the legal rights that it does now the world over. Don’t get me wrong: there are ‘straight-acting’ gay men who have done their share for gay rights, but the Queens are the ones who have done the most to bring our world to the level of acceptance.
Why do you think gay men are called Queens in the first place? Because of the pride that we inculcate in ourselves. Why do you think our Movement is called the Pride Movement? Because we should be proud of who are – not ashamed. Why do you think our flag has the colours of the rainbow? Because it goes to show that humanity comes in all colours and put together they appear all the more beautiful.
If we want to be ‘straight-acting’, when we are not straight, really then, why are we even interested in men? I always believe that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well! So if one wants to act straight, go right ahead and marry a woman and produce children and stop sleeping with men! That is how straight men live their lives and that is how a gay man who wishes to act straight should be.
Regarding the bitching, running down each other's character, fashion talk, celebrity assassination, plotting against buddies, back stabbing: does it not happen in the straight world as well? Oh! It happens in the straight world, believe me! Intrinsically, it is not sexuality or sex that makes one into a bitch. A straight man can be just as big a bitch as a gay man or a woman! I have known straight men like this and can give you a few examples right from my family. :)
We talk of fashion because gay people are – let’s admit it – leaders in the fashion industry. ‘Few industries are seen as gayer than fashion. Stereotypes aside, the world of couture has indeed been molded by the vast numbers of gay men and lesbians working in the industry. Yet Seventh Avenue and its European counterparts remain strangely closeted. We’ve charted some of the brightest lights who’ve made no secret of their sexuality.’ They are: Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein (bisexual but mostly leaning toward homosexuality), Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Domenico Dolce, Giancarlo Giammetti, Giorgio Armani, Norman Hartnell, Rudi Gernreich, Stefano Gabbana, Valentino Garavani and Yves Saint Laurent - to just name some from the bigwigs of the fashion world!
Richard Lippa has repeatedly shown clear central tendency differences with respect to occupational choice preferences between homosexual and heterosexual men, which are similar to male-female differences with respect to occupational choice.
In a sample of 363 homosexual men assessed on sexual behavior, Götestam also reported a high involvement in creative endeavors: music (11.2%), composing (2.2%), creative writing (6.0%) and painting (2.8%). The prevalence of left-handedness, stuttering and dyslexia is higher among males compared to females and higher among homosexual men compared to heterosexual men - but this does not mean that Hrithik Roshan is gay, since he stutters!
In one classic Mel Brooks movie, set during World War II, Mel Brooks’ character says, “Without gypsies, jews and fags, there is no theatre!” :)
I remember reading a wonderful essay by a very cool writer, Peter Tatchell titled “What Straight Men Could Learn from Gay Men” – I shall quote a few paragraphs from there for you to read:
“The vast majority of violent criminals are men. Blaming men is, alas, a little too simplistic. When it comes to crimes of violence, it is not men in general who are the culprits; but a very specific type of man. As well as being mostly young, poor, uneducated and unemployed, violent criminals are overwhelmingly heterosexual.
Although not all straight men are thugs, nearly all thugs are straight!!
They are the ones who go on the rampage terrorising women, smashing up council estates, robbing the elderly and getting into drunken fist-fights.
Gay men, in contrast, rarely participate in such belligerent behaviour. Usually more gentle and refined, most of us queers prefer to love men rather than fight them.
So why are straight males different? Macho attitudes begin in childhood, with boys’ toys and games that encourage competitive, domineering behaviour. Not surprisingly, many young men end up viewing rivalry and aggression as normal male conduct.
This normalisation of the macho mind-set is reinforced and legitimated by cultural icons of masculinity, such as tough-nut football stars like action-movie heroes like Bruce Willis. These symbols of modern maleness link being a 'real man' with machismo and womanising. Their public personas promote the idea that a hard, uncompromising masculinity is not only sexy and desirable, but also part and parcel of the socially-prized state of male heterosexuality.
Gay men deviate from this masculine norm. We are generally (though not always) less fully masculinised than our straight counterparts. This queer 'unmanliness' is, in fact, a great virtue. It is precisely our incomplete embrace of masculinity and our unwillingness to 'act like a man' that - thankfully - makes so many gay men disinclined to violence. Looking at gay celebrities like Boy George, it is difficult to imagine them terrorising anyone - except perhaps with their make up. :)
The contrast between hetero and homo behaviour is not, of course, absolute. There are exceptions. Straight men have increasingly embraced the New Man ethos, rejecting traditional machismo in favour of a caring, sharing (and more queer?) notion of masculinity. In India, we have the term 'Metrosexual'!
Gay men, too, don't always conform to type. Although large numbers rebel against machismo, a small proportion (often straight-identified and those who are insecure about their homosexuality) behave just as belligerently as their heterosexual mates. Rape and violence are not unheard of in gay relationships. And who can forget homosexual mass murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen?
Nevertheless, despite the existence of macho queers and non-macho straights, the general rule still holds true: hetero men tend to be the most aggressive and gay men the least.
Wouldn't life be dull without the flair and imagination of queer fashion designers and interior decorators? How could the NHS cope with no gay nurses, or the education system with no gay teachers? Society should thank its lucky stars that not all men turn out straight, macho and insensitive.
The fear of being labelled 'queer' can be part of the reason some heterosexual men adopt an extreme form of machismo. They deliberately choose to be unruly and loud as a way of asserting their heterosexuality and distancing themselves from any taint or suspicion of queerness. Their hyper-masculinity is projected as 'proof' of hetero identity. It ostentatiously disassociates them from the perceived effeminacy of the homosexual 'other'. These insecure straights reassure themselves of their heterosexuality with the simple-minded syllogism: 'Straight men are tough. Queers are weak. I'm tough therefore I can't be queer'.
Because they see aggression as normal and legitimate, it weakens the restraints against violent outbursts. Mugging, rape and vandalism no longer seem so taboo. When this mind-shift occurs and straight masculinity is allowed to run riot, the whole of society suffers.
Some gay men may be 'sissies' but, unlike straight machismo, a bit of camp limpwristedness harms no one. It can even be fun and enjoyable. (I completely agree with this because my best friends in the gay community are the effeminate ones!)
The social menace of male heterosexuality is all too familiar. While most people (especially women) walking alone at night in a dark secluded street would feel threatened by the approach of a loud, boisterous group of young straight males, no one ever feels endangered by the sight of several obviously gay men coming towards them in similar circumstances.
Likewise, police invariably report that the big difference between gay bars and straight bars is that there are rarely any fights in queer venues but often punch-ups in hetero ones. It is also entirely exceptional for gay men to slash bus seats, riot on football terraces, burn down community centres and graffiti subway trains. Such behaviour doesn't appeal to us.
(That is why I detest the idea of gay men trying to assimilate themselves with straight behaviourisms!) Assimilation involves the social acceptance of queers on the condition that we conform to the dominant heterosexual values. It is, however, crazy to want gay men to act like straight men. That would result in more violence and loutishness. Instead, it is in society's interest for male heterosexuals to behave more like queers, the vast majority of whom dislike machismo and thuggery.
When it comes to positive role models for young boys, gay men set the best example. Compared to the mindless he-man violence promoted by straight super-stars such as Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone, the thoughtful artistic achievements of queers like Rupert Everett, David Hockney, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Elton John seem infinitely preferable.
While gay men are generally less aggressive than hets, it is not impossible for us to be violent. If threatened or provoked, we gays can lash out too. But it is rarely instinctive queer behaviour. Confronted by a queer-basher, for example, most homosexuals run instead of bashing-back.
This is no accident. Compared to hetero youths, gay men usually have a gentler, more emotionally-open temperament. That is why straight women love our company. The gay sensibility is a pleasant relief from the dominating, bellicose behaviour of many (not all) husbands and boyfriends. The majority of women don't like that macho nonsense, and neither do most gay men. Hence the enduring love affair between hetero girls and gay boys. Women feel safe with us, knowing that our friendship is genuine and not simply a ploy to get them into bed.
Gay men do, indeed, have a lot in common with heterosexual women. Apart from our mutual interest in men - and our shared obsession with shopping, dressing up, cooking and interior decoration - we both get shafted by straight male machismo. It is hetero men who victimise women and queers. Their misogyny and homophobia causes us suffering. That gives women and gay men a mutual interest in sticking together and challenging straight male attitudes.
Surveying late twentieth century masculinity, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that heterosexual men are frequently a social liability, whereas most gays are a social asset. Compared to straights, we're not so desperate to conform to masculine stereotypes. Less afraid to express our feelings, we tend to be more in touch with our emotions. This gives many of us a sensitivity that has enabled homosexual men to play a disproportionate role in the creative arts and caring professions. Whether consciously or not, gay men redefine what it means to be a man. We show that maleness need not involve machismo.
But not all homosexuals are hairdressers and the like. Some work in masculine jobs like oil-rigging, lorry-driving and coal mining. However, even in these manly occupations, gay men tend to lack the hard-edged masculinity of their straight colleagues. They may do jobs that are dirty and physically demanding, but plenty still know how to bake a quiche and sew a pair of curtains.
This subversion of male orthodoxy is also at work when fashion-conscious gay men don the macho attire of motor-bikers, soldiers and construction workers. They undermine and transform these symbols of straight masculinity by discarding their aggressive connotations. No one really feels threatened by a tough-looking gay SM leatherman (whose hobbies off the gay scene probably include bonsai and opera). We all know his butchness is a pose. The masculine image of contemporary queer fashion thus embodies the eroticism of maleness without the violent menace of heterosexual machismo. It is the triumph of style over pathology.
Who can doubt that life would be vastly more pleasant if straight men had the pacific inclinations of their gay counterparts? There'd be much less gang warfare, wife-beating and late-night brawling. Were hetero males to embrace the less macho ambience of queers, society would end up calmer and more peaceful, not to mention caring and creative. The homosexualisation of male culture is, quite obviously, in the public interest. Where are the politicians with the guts to say so?”
So you see, there are gay people who do talk about sport and topics of reforms and budgets! But you have to understand, R, that gay people, who are assured of their own sexuality, have other wider things to talk of as well – like gay reform, for example. We, as a community, have our own reforms to look forward to – tell me, do you know how far the Lawyer’s Collective in India has reached in its fight against the bill to decriminalize homosexuality? Or that in September 2006, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and acclaimed writer Vikram Seth came together with scores of other prominent Indians in public life to publicly demand this change in the legal regime. The open letter demands that 'In the name of humanity and of our Constitution, this cruel and discriminatory law should be struck down.'
During a recent visit to India by the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was asked by a journalist what he thought of the new law allowing gay marriage in Canada. His reply was that "there would not be much appreciation for a law like that in India," and he went on to talk about how they were culturally very different societies.
The supreme Sikh religious body, the Akal Takht, has issued an edict condemning gay marriage and has Sikhs living in Canada not to support or allow gay marriages in gurudwaras. In 2005, two unnamed women in Hyderabad asked the Darul Qaza, an Islamic court, for a fatwa allowing them to marry, but permission was denied with a rebuke from the chief qazi. None of the principal Christian denominations in India allow same-sex marriage. There have been a few cases of gay and lesbian marriages being conducted in India by Hindu priests as far back as 1993. However, these marriages have no legal recognition under Indian law, and are often meet with societal disapproval.
Gay marriage is not a debated issue in India, a country where homosexuality is still technically illegal. Except for a few sporadic incidents, homosexuality or same-sex marriages are almost never discussed in public though the situation has changed significantly. And why has it changed? Because of pioneering efforts by a lot of gay-acting homosexuals. ;)
I have never thought of being married. I don’t believe in the institution. That is my perspective and my prerogative – but in the same vein, I do not look down upon friends who do want to get married and I respect their opinion. So humanity is a very, very wide spectrum – the theory of relativity applies to it exceedingly!
‘Ironically, while the British drafted Section 377 of the IPC, while replacing a previously tolerant Indian attitude towards sexuality with a highly oppressive one of their own, this law was repealed in the UK in 1967. A recent study conducted by the UNFPA in rural India has found that male-to-male sex is not uncommon. ‘‘In fact, a higher percentage of men reported male-to-male sex than sex with sex-workers. Close to 10 per cent of unmarried men and 3 per cent of married men reported sex with other men in the past 12 months,’’ says the study.
Yet, India remains untouched though literature drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern fiction testify to the presence of same-sex love in various forms. Ancient texts such as the Manu Smriti, Arthashastra, Kamasutra, Upanishads and Puranas refer to homosexuality.
But finally, it is not a war between straight and gay. It doesn’t have to be. Each world has its positives and each world has its negatives! Surely being a mature man of the world, you will agree to this. A new mindset is the need of the hour! Otherwise, human beings will continue to suffer inhuman exploitation just because nature has nourished them with the need to be different. And it is the difference that makes us all unique!
You say that you have nothing to look forward to: well, I don’t know about other people, but I can say that if I die tomorrow, I will die without regrets. Life to me is not about looking forward to something that is monumentally varying – because one never know whether the change shall happen for the good or the bad – it is merely living day by day and saying thank you for the things you already have!
To me, the new release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is something that I eagerly look forward to. And then of course, the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Then – who knows? Perhaps another book. Or writing an essay. Or Anand sending me a poem. Or just receiving a letter from you. :) I live day to day. I don’t think about the future, R, because believe me, it comes soon enough.
I do not think you are being melodramatic when it comes to talking about the wounds that you have received from people. We all have our own share of scars. Someday, when we sit to compare them, you’ll realize once and for all, that everyone goes through shit and some point of time in their lives. I have also learnt – and this is thanks to my mom – that one should not look up and compare, but look down and do so. I may not have a dozen Corollas in a bungalow worth 20 crores in Malabar Hill, but I do have the ability to jump into a privately chauffeured auto rickshaw from a comfortable flat in Versova. Besides, when has having money been equivalent to having peace of mind? When has having scores of silly friends been equivalent to having one true friend?
BLOODY HELL, my “letter” has turned into a short story! God, you asked for a long letter, but I went overboard! So to quickly end my letter, I shall say, yes! There is a silver lining to every dark cloud. But I shall also say, open your mind, be true to yourself, rely on those who love you unconditionally and whatever happens, it will be for the best.