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Alternative destination December 3, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay & Lesbian.
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From India Today:

Alternative destination

SEX SURVEY ’08: GUEST COLUMN 

And, ladies and gentlemen, the Oscar goes to Hyderabad. Even the Titanic received only 14 Oscar nominations and won 11. But Hyderabad, India’s second largest city today, has won more than 15 all-India firsts in the INDIA TODAY-AC Nielsen ORG MARG sex survey, 2008, thus confirming that it is unarguably the sex capital of India. Dubious distinction or not, the other Indian cities are sure to feel sexless by comparison.

Let’s take a look at some of these Sex Oscars. Hyderabad leads India in the following sexual arenas: highest incidence of adultery, wife-swapping, sex with prostitutes, sanction and practice of homosexuality, use of sex toys, practice of underage sex, role-playing, different positions, sexual adventurousness, bisexuality, heterosexual anal sex, overall use of pornography, overall partner use of pornography, video pornography, and even the making of one’s own porn videos!

What I have always suspected but have never been able to prove has finally been validated. But though all this might be news to many of us, Hyderabad’s legendary sexuality has already been chronicled in books like Asian Homosexuality, With Respect to Sex and Sexual Sites – Seminal Attitudes.

During the reign of the Nizams (circa 1724 – 1948), Hyderabad was prosperous, and with prosperity, quality of life matters like sex get an undue share of attention. Sex was celebrated in this time, and polygamy and alternate sexuality, including homosexuality and paedophilia were accepted as a part of life. Hijras, castrated eunuchs who guarded harems, often doubled as homosexual partners. There is even a record of two of an erstwhile Nizam’s sons stabbing one another over the love of a beautiful Hijra named Rehman.

The migration of people from elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad brought in aspects of feudal and Devadasi sexuality. It is not surprising, therefore, that so many Hyderabadis patronise prostitutes, swap wives, practice adultery, try multiple positions and use sex toys. More recently, Hyderabad’s booming prosperity has attracted many young men and women from faraway places, many of whom are ready to mingle, whether married or single. The tolerant and permissive sexual ethos of Hyderabad has also made it a favourite LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-sexual) destination. Many young men and women live alone and this provides great LGBT opportunity. A disturbing downside to all this is that Andhra Pradesh has the highest numbers of HIV-AIDS-afflicted. Another worry is the recent spurt in homosexual sex crimes and killings.

The eye that looks carefully will see LGBTs everywhere. The parade grounds and public gardens are gay havens after sundown. The Yahoo! chat group, Gay Hyderabad, ranks among the top 10! There are gay bars, gay groups like Saathi (now extinct) and Mithrudu, and we even have our own Ashok Row Kavi, Hoshang Merchant, who is the author of Yaarana: Gay Writing from India, and other books.

Acceptance is important and the real reason why Hyderabad tops gay lists is because it is sexually a very tolerant and accepting place. I would even say ‘evolved’. It is perhaps the least homophobic of all Indian cities. One sees men holding hands, or walking with an arm over another man’s shoulders or waist, walking on the streets with the obvious body language of gay men, and nobody gives them insomuch as a second glance. The same is true of lesbians.

There is another reason. Let me illustrate. Californian law is homophilic. Therefore, many homosexuals move there, and San Francisco, for example, has a truly higher homosexual population than many other cities in the USA. By contrast, Indian law is homophobic, and gays can and do face a lot of public ostracism and opprobrium. In the absence of legal sanction, societal sanction and acceptance become extremely important determinants in such matters. By this analogy, it may be stated that Hyderabad is like the San Francisco of India because the population here is more liberal and many gays therefore choose to move here. The city is the LGBT headquarters of the nation at a time when a campaign is on to recognise alternative sexuality.

The writer is an andrologist, sexual medicine expert and author of Sex is Not a Four-Letter Word

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