Butterflies in the Closet…

The other day I read an article in the New Yorker by Paul Rudnick. It was a spoof piece on the sexuality of India’s most famous Gandhi titled ‘I was Gandhi’s Boyfriend ‘. Paul Rudnick’s piece was inspired by Joseph Lelyveld’s biography of MK Gandhi, Great Soul. The book was 422 pages of Gandhi’s struggle for social justice and hind swaraj and two pages of his relationship with a certain body-builder while his time in South Africa. Yet it was banned, a book that was never published in India.

We thought it was just sex education. No, its homosexuality too. The banishment of Lelyveld’s book is actually the banishment of out of closet homosexuals from India. India still feels that out of closet homosexuality is a threat to the existing social relations. Gays for that matter are at peace tucked away around its corners or inside its closets.
The Union health minister calls it a disease, Kushwant Singh rejects it as an aberration and the rest of us choose less to talk about it. Indian gays might have a law but they don’t have a life. The Inidan gays might have the laws by their side but not the society. No religion has same sex relationships in its cannons. But at least the occident has started accommodating them by giving them a minority status. If the western gays have a Lady Gaga, all we have a hazel eyed ex-beauty queen advocating less for equal sexual rights and more for her washed down bollywood career. In a manner, India is encouraging its citizens to live a lie and keeping the truth away from light.

India has a socio- centric demography. More than half of the decisions Indians make are influenced only and only by the society- marriage, kid’s education, car model and even bath fittings model. Society is so dominant in our lives that we are ready to spend a lifetime inside a closet rather than standing apart out offrom it. Another reason for the nation’s dismay for the gay community could be the state of denial the nation has been in. If the Chinese win wars through deception, India does that through denial. It is this refusal to accept change which is why people living a second life continue to do so.

The best thing about a democracy is that there is always a choice. But in fundamentalism, there is not. India is both- a democracy and a fundamentalist onecountry. There is no highway option for some here. In days to come, the politics of sexuality will dominate the khaki sphere. For that matter there will come a 15th August when the thought of same sex couples won’t incense the society. And they will be let free.

Ankietaa Chakraborty

The author is a 19 year old student of history studying at Hansraj College. She is one of those who Oscar Wilde would have described as in the gutter but still looking out at the stars. She loves the arts. When she is not studying history and getting worried about political issues in the campus, she writes or clicks pictures.