As the dust settles over the whole Onir and Yuvraj controversy, Sukhdeep Singh recalls a similar incident from his life where his sexuality was being used for personal gain by someone

Anything gay makes headlines these days, and if it has a whiff of scandal, it makes for sensational first page news! That is what happened with Onir, director of such acclaimed movies as My Brother Nikhil, and I Am. There were no police reports filed, just mere accusations and a “hickey” to show, and Mumbai Mirror ran a first page cover story, tarnishing the image of the “five foot nothing”  director and leaving him shattered. With Yuvraj Parashar finally withdrawing all allegations against Onir and tendering an unconditional apology, it has become clear that all of this was merely a cheap publicity  stint on his part.  However, the whole incident has again highlighted how difficult it could be to live a dignified life in this country for a gay man, with mere accusations being taken at face value, and someone’s sexuality being an easy escape for others.

A few months back, I had to go through a similar traumatizing experience when my sexuality was being used as an excuse by someone to further his interest. Although nothing in scale like the incident that has happened with Onir, it did leave me deeply hurt and shocked to the point that even today, I either avoid such situations or make it a point to reveal my sexuality, even though my sexuality shouldn’t matter at all.

Anyone working in the IT sector would appreciate how difficult and costly it is to find rooms in such cities as Bangalore or Gurgaon- the IT hubs. Fresh in my first job, I was sharing the flat with five other friends, all from my college itself. Three of them are also associated with Gaylaxy, and the fourth one is also a good friend. The four of them had already taken a flat in Gurgaon, and asked me to join them. Still waiting for my joining dates to arrive, I had heartily agreed to share the flat with them. However, I had another “friend” Indra who had got placed in the same company and was from Kolkata itself and had asked me to stay together at Gurgaon. I asked them if he could also join. Since Indra had also studied in the same college and was known to them, they readily agreed, and I or Indra never had to go through the hassles of searching rooms or haggling prices with brokers and room owners. By the time we arrived at Gurgaon, they had already settled down and as was obvious, the two of us were given a room to share. After about a week, on a Sunday evening I found my four friends discussing something in a hush- hush voice. The discussion stopped as soon as I arrived. The look on their face was enough to tell me that something was amiss. On enquiring I got to know that Indra had asked to shift to a room that had been lying vacant in our flat. This of course was unacceptable, for it would have meant unnecessary shooting up of the electricity bills etc. I was surprised to know why all of a sudden after a week this “demand” was made by him, since from the very beginning, it was pretty clear to him that he would have to share the room with me. None of them would tell me the reason, yet I could sense it had to do something with me. On pressing further I got to know that he had said that he wouldn’t share the room with me.

It was quite a shocker to me, since I was very much out in my college. All along he had known that he would be sharing the room with me, and I had never done anything “wrong”. Suddenly, I was made to feel like a molester or some criminal, all my pride shattered and bruised. I knew Indra was using my sexuality as an excuse, because there was no other way he could get the single room. I proposed that one of them shift to my room, while I move to theirs. With no further argument under his sleeve, Indra had to agree to this and the stalemate got over. However, I was left disturbed for the next few days, my mental agony aggrieving every time I looked at Indra.

Three months later me, Indra and a few office colleagues got posted to Bangalore and thus began the “house-hunting” drive again. My office colleagues were asking me to share the flat with them. But deep inside, the fact that there could be a possibility of my sexuality becoming an issue again kept me away. I instead looked for a single room, even though sharing the flat with them would have been economical. My pride had been hurt once; I couldn’t let that happen again.

The lowest a person can stoop to is using someone’s sexuality for his own gains. It leaves a deep scar in the mind, and shatters you in many ways. That is what seems to have happened with Onir, and  I can only express my sympathies with him. This incident highlights the fact that this country needs laws to protect the rights of the community, for someone should not be able to escape easily by using a person’s sexuality as an excuse for personal gains with just a “sorry”.