SECTION 377: From Criminals to Sexual Objects

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gay pride

Picture by Eric Johnson VIk

From emerging class differences to sexual objectification of gay men, there have been a lot of changes since the decriminalization of homosexuality, observes Dr. Himadri Roy

2nd July, 2009, Thursday – Judgment Day. Yes, as the news broke out, closeted LGBT people of the city jumped with joy. A jubilant pride followed that Sunday with sweat dripping down the nape of hordes of participants, including me. Imagine the sultry weather of Delhi! People still didn’t hesitate to greet each other without even being familiar. But who cared! At least everyone was happy to be gay as the harassment of the cops would stop– free cruising in the parks and public loos, no shying away from colorful pants and gaudy jewelry, no hesitations to do muah-muahs and hugging friends in public places. Everyone around suddenly seemed to have developed a different attitude.

Days passed by and this attitude drew lines of differences– class consciousness and beauty tinged with glamour. One started feeling strong about one’s looks and splurging money for brands –yes capitalism hit the market soon. Gays from every nook and corner didn’t even think twice before buying expensive CK underwear or such brands which would keep them in high pedestal when they unzipped. Visiting spas and discs were now a part of life. The gaze of the public changed from abhorrence to awe, except parents/family who shouted about unnecessary expenses. The gay response was simply rebellious, “My money so lemme do whatever I want to!” Subtly, but gruesomely, moral ethics vanished off. Every gay man’s family in the city had such squabbles and arguments but no one dared to say or discuss openly what their sexuality was, and why they were revolting like this. As always, family would never talk about such things, moreover, discussing sexuality or sex isn’t part of family morality in this country. Not returning home from late night parties, or returning late from hook-ups at cruising areas or new sex-dates became a scheduled lifestyle. Visiting the gym and getting a toned body like film stars and gyrating like them became a fad for everyone. While the public gaze was still of awe, among the younger generation things slowly changed. Their gaze carried a sense of envy and insecurity.

To make things more open for every reader, cyber dating whooshed up immediately from gay sites to common ones like Facebook. Facebook pages and groups opened up catering to the LGBT people, so everyone got a ticket to enter that exclusive domain and poor gay men felt a sense of pride that they can change the mind-set of everyone. Cruising shifted to Facebook and many of the gay men started dating them- if things work out why not sex? Soon it was hard for everyone to figure out what their orientation was, till the desires and urges were accomplished. No headaches and no strings attached became the modus operandi for such dates, and the result was a sense of pride that one has dated a straight man and “made” him bi-sexual– Wow, what an achievement! Poor us, forgetting what Freud had said ‘Every damn man is a bisexual’. Most men had and will always be promiscuous and their sexuality has nothing to do with it. And soon the gaze changed from sense of envy to objectification of such men who were conspicuous in public.

As days rolled by, sex for gay men became an easily available thing at every nook and corner of the city. Before the Judgment day, one needed to think twice before approaching someone in a crowded metro or a DTC bus or even in a fancy mall. Only voyeuristic pleasures could be derived by standing close to them or peeping to glance at the object of fantasy in the posh mall loos. But still a sense of fear haunted the mind all the time. Now it seemed a bindaas-mentality hovered around the object of fantasy till there were blatant rejections/denials. Seeking love now became a dreamland desire that could never result from sex-dates and could never be achieved. But still gay men felt, ‘It’s better to have something than nothing at all; what’s the harm to have sex-dates than long-term relationships?’ This kind of temperament drove today’s gay men to live life at their own terms –from breaking all traditions in conventional family set-ups to friendly environment. Those men who didn’t believe in these thoughts and principles of life aren’t part of the friend circle. But interestingly, all this occurs till middle age knocks their doors. Till then life should be enjoyed to the fullest.

Now the scenario is such that if one stares back more than once at another young man driving his bike, or the co-commuter, or the spectator next to you at the Cineplex, the response turns out to be positive in most cases. The response can be shocking at times –one biker followed my car till a traffic signal and handed me over his phone number and zoomed off, another liked the tight trousers on my butts and made me feel his throbbing erection in a crowded Metro and slipped a chit of paper into my pocket before vanishing in the crowd; another pulled my hand in a Metro station and wrote his phone number on it and went away. None of them are probably gay or bisexual.

These makes one ponder – What is it that is running behind the mind? Is it bi-curiosity? But then the statistics of bi-curious men would reach the top of the cartography sheet. Or is it simply that gay m­­­­en have become the most desirable object for sex? Who knows the answer! If this is true then the conclusion is logical that Judgment day has converted every gay man into a sexual object and an object to be dragged to bed for fulfillment of the mortal desires. And interestingly, all gay men feel a sense of pride in acquiring this position amongst the masculine world and beating their counterparts –the women –to nothingness. Kudos! Cheers to the Judgment then!

Himadri Roy

Dr. Himadri Roy is an Associate Professor in the School of Gender and Development Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.