Renowned Indian author and mythologist, Devdutt Pattanaik has come out as gay in an interview he gave to CNN News 18. The show, titled Off Centre, was telecast on the news channel on 15th September at 8:00 pm and was repeated on 17th September at 12:30 pm and 8:30 pm. This is the first time that the author has openly spoken about his own sexuality and about growing up gay in a country that until recently criminalised homosexuality.
Talking about his sexuality to the host Anuradha Sengupta, Mr. Pattanaik said that he realised at a young age that he was gay, and that he never had a problem with his sexuality. But he realised that other people might have a problem with it. When asked when did he come to realised he was gay, Pattanaik said: “I was in 10th Standard, when I saw Jewel on the Crown movie… I heard the word homosexual.. and I looked up the dictionary and knew that’s what I am.” However, he also said that he realised most people will not understand and so he kept his sexuality a secret from others. However, he clarified that he didn’t have any guilt, rather, would find his secret pleasurable as it was fun to watch others presume his sexuality. On coming out to his family and parents, Mr. Pattanaik said he would leave clues for them by keeping copies of Bombay Dost at home. However, his parents kept ignoring those hints. When he crossed his 30s, his parents started asking him to get married, and he confronted them and told them that he won’t be getting married.
In the interview, Devdutt also talks about how queer people are acknowledged in Hindu text, how Shikhandi changes the course of Mahabharat, and that most people who say homosexuality is not part of Indian culture have not read the Hindu texts.
Watch the full interview here.