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Is being gay like having chicken pox? June 16, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay, The Asian Age.
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From The Asian Age, 15 June 2008. This is the second edition from a weekly gay column.

Is being gay like having chicken pox?

Ayush Maheshwari

Well, as expected, there was uproar amongst my family and friends after reading last weeks article. Some loved it, some really felt disgraced that I should not have been so straight-forward and some reactions just reassured my belief that this column is almost necessary; necessary because life is more than just living in a box.

Then my mom got a call from a distant relative, who often calls with marriage proposals for me saying, “Well, now we know!” I am happy that finally they will not perceive me as ‘hot property’ in the marriage scene. What really shocked (troubled me) was my best friend Cyrus’ reaction. He called me up late Sunday morning and was obviously very upset (understatement) with me. The conversation started with a long pause, and all that was left to hear was the deep breathing of my friend on the other line. I decided to patiently wait until, if at all, he spoke.

“Ayush,” he said, “are you crazy? You’re openly talking about gays as if it’s the same as spreading chicken pox? How could you so comfortably tell the world at large about this. This is utter shame.” I surely did not think that being gay is equivalent to ‘having a disease which spreads’ (a self-proclaimed healer once stated that acupressure “cures” this.) Now the irony: Cyrus is gay. Since he is completely closeted (or that’s what he would like to believe), I can understand some of his reactions. Although what came out loud and clear, one more time to me, is that this column might assist in building a bridge between the double lives some people end up living (much easier said than done.) I decided to give myself a little break from this thought and went to watch Sex and the City. As the movie came to an end, with all those love connections, marriages, relationships etc., I started thinking about Cyrus’ reaction differently. My heart went out to him as I realised his reaction is simply based on fear. This sense of fear is universal; shared by various kinds of people, straight or gay, who at times hide their true selves to just fit in. A fear of the unknown, a fear of alienation and a fear to be looked down upon. I called him back and told him in the best possible way that I did not have any intentions to hurt his feelings.

All gays are hijras? Gays are the main reason why AIDS is spreading? Gay men are women in a man’s body? Gosh, be careful he is gay? Is there a medicine which exists which can cure this? Etc. etc. etc. These are all absurd statements (I perceive them to be questions based on sheer ignorance.) which are repeated, over and over again, in multiple shapes and forms, by a diverse group of people nationwide. There is one answer to all of the above “questions” and that is ‘NO!’

Whether it is a CEO of a call center I know or Cyrus (who actually considered getting married to an underprivileged girl and doing his thing on the side) there seems to be massive confusion in people’s mind about ‘what does it mean to be gay?’ Exceptions do exist; however, this does NOT always define what ‘being gay’ really means. All these questions lead to one direction i.e. lack of proper knowledge.

Then you also hear some really heart lifting comments as well (now these are what I call the ‘good’ stereotypes.) Things like, “Hey, gays are so creative.” “Gay men are always closer to their moms then straight men.” “Gay men make best friends to women.” “Gay men have the best bodies (well now I don’t hear that about myself generally. This is an area where I would like to believe that I am consistently a “Work In Progress Gym Goer”, but the reality is…) “Gay men have the best pedicure feet and perfectly threaded eyebrows” (let’s not even begin to talk about my spa bill.)

The reality is this: Gays are as human as everyone else. Gays have hearts that beat and lungs that breathe. I cannot help but wonder, “When will the day come when more and more men and women will be able to really live and not just simply breathe?”

You can email your experiences to ayush@bigindian.in

The writer is more popularly known as ‘Big Indian’, is an IT wizard, motivational expert, pop singer, TV performer and a social worker

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