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Lesbian helpline gets busy before its launch January 29, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Lesbian, Times of India.
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From The Times of India:

29 Jan 2009, 0337 hrs IST, Arun Ram, TNN

CHENNAI: The first dedicated lesbian helpline in the city started ringing early on Wednesday, 10 days ahead of its scheduled launch, indicating the urgent need for an outlet for lesbians, one of the most suppressed group among sexual minorities in the country. The Times Of India on Wednesday reported about the venture that would provide counselling, support and livelihood assistance to lesbians through the helpline 044-65515742 starting February 7.

“The phone began ringing at 7.15 am and we received 45 calls till 5 pm. We’ve told the callers politely that the service would be operational only from February 7. Our volunteers, however, are attending to every call. This means that there are a large number of people who are waiting to be heard and helped,” said Indian Community Welfare Organisation (ICWO) founder secretary A J Hariharan. ICWO is aided by Johannesberg-based NGO ActionAid and Sangama, a support group for sexual minorities in Bangalore.

“Some wanted to volunteer for us, while some others directly asked for a counsellor. A 26-year-old woman called up to say that she is having a relationship with another woman at her workplace. We promised her advise as soon as the helpline becomes fully functional. We have instructed all our volunteers not to ask the callers any questions and to just listen them out,” Hariharan said.

Activists for sexual minorities are overwhelmed by the response and see the helpline catalysing collaborations between like-minded groups. “We would be keen on joining hands with the ICWO in promoting and handling the helpline service,” said Padma Govindan of Sakthi Centre that hold group therapies for lesbians. “The first challenge would be to have enough qualified people to attend and document the calls.”

While social workers like Sunil of Sangama say it is ideal to have lesbians taking the calls, Govindan feels what counts in the person handling the call is professionalism more than sexual orientation. Initially ICWO will have gays attending the calls, before the organisation gets enough lesbians to volunteer.

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Celina starts Facebook support group for Homosexuals January 28, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Personality, Section 377.
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From Mid-Day:

By: Hemal Ashar

Date: 2009-01-28

Celina Jaitly takes support for gay cause forward; starts group on Facebook

Actor Celina Jaitly was the poster girl at Mumbai’s first ever Gay Pride march that took place in Mumbai on August 16 2008, from August Kranti Maidan up to Girgaum Chowpatty.

Celina had flagged off the trailblazing intiative, where she spoke about her belief in gay rights and her support for Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality to be abolished.

Thinking ahead

Now, Celina proved that the Gay Pride celebrity appearance was not just a token gesture.  The actor has gone ahead, using the popular social networking site Facebook to call for support for the gay cause and formed an online petition towards abolishing Section 377.

Celina says on Facebook: ‘I summon all my friends and fans in joining me in my movement to have section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which bans gay sex to be amended/overturned….”

Celina’s stand is different from the standard celebrity response to the gay cause. She is straightforward about her support for gays and lesbians. Actors are wary about their public image. Not  Celina. She says, “I do not care about image, this is what I believe in.”

Celina’s stand

On having taken the support for the gay cause forward…

I started a group on Facebook six days ago. This group called ‘Celina calls for gay rights in India’ is a group asking for support to abolish Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

On not hiding behind the HIV/Aids umbrella

No, I am not. I believe in my cause. I am doing this openly. I support gay people. You either support them or you don’t; that’s it.

Openly happy and gay in Orissa January 27, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in dnaindia, English, Lesbian, LGBT, Organizations, Personality.
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From DNA:

Subhashish Mohanty
Monday, January 26, 2009 2:42 IST

 

Bhubaneswar: Homosexuality is coming out of the closet in Orissa. “Orissa is now ready to discuss issues of trans-sexuality, lesbianism and gay sex,” says Oriya film personality Dr Sarat Pujari.

Till only a few years ago nobody would even think of discussing such issues. But on Saturday, over a 100 young girls, around 20 eunuchs and a number of gays turned up at an auditorium here to see movies on AIDS, sex and trans-sexuality as the Siddhartha Gautam Film Festival-2009 kicked off in Bhubaneswar.

The festival is organised by the Solidarity and Action Against the HIV Infection In India (Saathii)

“We organised the film festival to create awareness on these untouched subjects,” said Mayadhar Rath. Four films — Ame Chari (We Four), Mamatara Phul (The flower of Love), Bhul Re Bhul Karani (Never do a Mistake for Mistake Sake) and 68 Pages were screened followed by a panel discussion on gender, sexuality, human rights and HIV.

The film festival is being organised in memory of Siddhartha who pioneered the work and died of cancer at the age of 28.

Most Orissa girls who witnessed such an event for the first time, said they would always support free and safe sex. “Every individual has the right to enjoy sex,” said Kalpana Bishoi, a student of Centre for Rural Development-IMS. Instead, even trans-sexuality and lesbianism are welcome, she said.

“I would never mind indulging in lesbianism, as long as it keeps me happy,” says her friend Swarna Prabha Mohanta.

Most all them sat nearly five hours through four movies.

Most eunuchs who attended the festival were aware of the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. They complained that they continued to be ostracised socially. “Why do people continue mock us,” asks Basant Kumar Das, a transgender.

On Sunday, mobile film shows were organised in Bhadrak.”Film shows will also be held at Titlagarh and Balangir on January 27,” said Pawan Dhal, country director of Saathii.

Incidentally, a girl from Raghunathpur area left her house on Friday and moved into her “girlfriend’s” house.

Raghunathpur police O-C BN Samal, however, does not see it as a case of homosexuality. According to him, “this was a case of love and friendship”.

Abandoned by ‘gay’ man, wife seeks maintenance January 27, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, LGBT, Marriage, Times of India.
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From The Times of India:

25 Jan 2009, 2328 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: A woman filed a maintenance case against her husband recently, alleging that he was involved in a homosexual relationship with his best friend and had left her and their child when she found out about it.

As per the case, the couple got married in 2004 but the problems started when the woman’s husband was spending more time with his best friend, who is also his business partner. The woman alleged that her husband was earlier working with his elder brother but quit the family business and started a small business with his best friend.

Earlier, the woman had filed a complaint against her husband in 2008 asking for maintenance. The court, last year referred the case to the mediation centre in order to counsel the couple in order to settle the case out of court. Opposing his relationship with his friend, the husband said that he was into a business with his friend and he earned his living by the work. Therefore, he would not leave his business at the behest of his wife.

With no hope of reconcilaton, the case was then transferred to the court of metropolitan magistrate Sunaina Sharma as her husband refused to pay her monthly allowance.

In her petition, the woman said that she got married in 2004 and they were living happily for some time. But she soon realized that her husband was not showing any interest in her and used to enjoy the company of his friend. The woman said that her husband refused to give up his friend’s company and she was sent back to her parent’s house within few months of her marriagewhile she was pregnant. She also alleged that her husband refused to accept his daughter who was born after the couple got separated.

Plight of gay community finds a voice January 27, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in LGBT, Times of India.
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From the Times of India:

26 Jan 2009, 0443 hrs IST, Radheshyam Jadhav, TNN

PUNE: Offbeat, the first Marathi musical on the problems faced the gay community, will be staged in the city on January 27.

The heterosexual community in Pune has come together to stage the play, which took almost an year to get a censor certificate. Jamir Kamble, writer and director, also went through a harrowing time convincing actors to take up the roles.

“I am gay myself,” says Kamble. “I believe that my sexuality is a vital part of my identity. I have seen that this important aspect of my life is neither accepted by society nor does it find representation in any form. That is how I came up with the idea of writing this play. Thereafter, I had to struggle for almost a year before I could get a censor certificate. After I managed this, I struggled to find actors professional and experimental who could enact the bold roles in my play.”

Finally it was decided that the play would be staged with a mix of gay and heterosexual actors, under the banner of Begum production. “I will not say that we have a great play here, but I am sure that it will question people’s narrow-minded perceptions on gender and sexuality and their definitions of man and woman. It will definitely make people think,” says Kamble.

The play will be staged at Bharat Natya Mandir at 9.30 pm. It is the first Marathi play to speak directly about the problems of homosexuals in India, from the social and legal perspective. Not only does it showcase the inner world of homosexuals, but also uses satire to expose the rigidity of a patriarchal society.

The play mainly highlights the fact that according to the estimates of the National AIDS Control Programme, India has 2.46 million men who have sex with men. However, under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, homosexual acts of sex are banned as unnatural.

“Gay people either become a laughing stock or end up facing brutal reactions and lack of understanding, both at home and in society,” says Kamble. “This lowers their self esteem, which results in an increasing rate of suicidal attempts. It also makes homosexuals vulnerable to infections, like HIV,” said Kamble.

Healing by the book January 27, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Hindustan Times, HIV, Personality.
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From The Hindustan Times:

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi , Hindustan Times
January 23, 2009

Repeal of India’s Sodomy Law January 23, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Online/New Media, Section 377.
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From Ego magazine:

By Yuvraj Joshi*

Drafted by Lord Macaulay in 1860, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code—India’s sodomy law— criminalizes ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. The law has been called ‘archaic and brutal,’ ‘the colonial era monstrosity’. In 2000, the Law Commission of India in its 172nd report concluded that it should be repealed. Nevertheless, Section 377 continues to be used to target sexual minorities and violate their rights and well being. There is a debate among human rights advocates and the political and religious right concerning whether legal reforms are necessary to protect sexual minorities. This article surveys the main arguments of that debate. The international human rights community has largely overlooked the plight of sexual minorities in India. However, as this article will illustrate, the abuses that occur under Section 377 are serious violations of the rights of sexual minorities and should draw the attention and concern of state and non-state actors.

 

Background

On 4 January 2006, the City of Lucknow police arrested four men under Section 377 for allegedly having sex in public. An independent investigation later found that the men were not having sex in public and that the First Incident Report filed by the police was false. The police had arrested one of the men after learning that he was a homosexual and coerced him into providing information concerning the others. The Lucknow incident illustrates that the person who appears likely to commit sodomy is the target of the sodomy law, whether or not he commits the act. Even when the law is not being used to prosecute sexual relations, its existence operates to legitimize practices that violate the rights and well being of sexual minorities. Hijras and kothis have been raped during police investigations involving Section 377. The statute has also been used to intimidate lesbians into ending their relationships. NGOs working with the queer community face the threat of being found culpable for aiding and abetting a crime under Section 377. Section 377 is currently under challenge at the Delhi High Court. On 7 December 2001, the Naz Foundation, an AIDS NGO based in New Delhi, filed a writ petition before the High Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 (Naz Foundation v Govt of N.C.T. of Delhi & Ors [2001]). The petition asks the Court to read down (not repeal) Section 377 by decriminalising private consensual sexual relations, which would allow its continued use against child sexual abuse. Until a separate child sexual abuse law is created, Section 377 remains the only recourse to justice for male victims of child sexual abuse. On 2 September 2004, the High Court dismissed the Naz petition without considering its constitutional challenge. It found ‘no cause of action’, declaring that ‘just for the sake of testing the legislation, a petition cannot be filed’. On 3 February 2006, the Supreme Court of India overruled the dismissal and ordered the High Court to consider the petition based on its merits. As of November 2008, the appeal is once again being heard at the High Court.

 

Main Positions

The first position theoretical and political position concerning the repeal of the sodomy law is the conservative view that Section 377 should not be repealed or read down. India’s political and religious right has articulated this view in response to calls for overturning Section 377. The conservative position defines homosexuality as ‘not Indian’, equating national identity and citizenship with heteronormativity. The second position is the liberal view that calls for the decriminalisation of particular sexual relations. through an appeal to the legal rights of sexual minorities. At the core of the liberal position stands a distinction between public and private realms. According to this view, private consensual sexual acts should be protected from interference by the state. The conservative and liberal positions represent the two most commonly held views in the mainstream of the sodomy law debate. The third position comes from feminist and queer dissenters and responds to the liberal position. While dissenters strive toward positive social change for gender and sexual minorities, they criticize the reliance on the legal rights discourse and identity-based politics that is required by the liberal approach. There is also a further debate within the queer community concerning whether any legal reform is useful for creating positive social change for sexual minorities. While some maintain that the law is the most powerful means for creating significant change, others contend that legal reform impedes more radical efforts. Finally, I want to present a fourth position. This position calls for the repeal (not reading down) of Section 377 and the simultaneous creation of a law prohibiting the sexual abuse of children. While I am sympathetic toward the concerns raised by the feminist and queer dissenters, their criticisms do not diminish the case for overturning Section 377. It is difficult to envision a safe condition for sexual minorities in India that involves the existence of Section 377 in any form. While there is no doubt, however, that the repeal of the sodomy law by itself cannot relieve the plight of sexual minorities, it will help to create conditions that are conducive to positive social change. Archana Parashar’s claim, made in context of the struggle of Indian women, applies to Section 377 as well: ‘…instead of dismissing law reform as a means of achieving equality… it is more productive to realise the limitations of law and have appropriate expectations that law reform by itself will be insufficient to change society’

 

Arguments for Repeal

Rights advocates argue that Section 377 violates the fundamental rights of sexual minorities in a number of ways. On one level, Section 377 indirectly leads to rights violations by allowing stigma and discrimination toward sexual minorities. It engenders prejudicial beliefs and legitimizes discriminatory practices by both state and non-state actors. On another level, Section 377 directly requires state actors to violate the legal rights of sexual minorities. The police, for example, may arrest any person suspected of engaging in ‘unnatural’ sexual relations, whether or not the act has been committed. Therefore, state actors violate rights through the ‘proper’ implementation of Section 377. Section 377 also directly contradicts the legal rights guaranteed to citizens under the Indian constitution. Rights-based arguments have garnered considerable support, yet they are not without some limitations. Feminist and queer dissenters argue that such arguments exclude those individuals who do not or cannot conform to limited notions of sexual identity. For example, hijra is an indigenous gender identity regarded as a ‘third sex’ that is neither man nor woman. It, therefore, defies the notion of binary sexes that is implicit in both heterosexual and homosexual orientations. Some also argue that libertarian ideals may not carry the same moral appeal for Indian judges as their counterparts in the United Kingdom. Therefore, a critical evaluation of the limitations of legal rights discourse in the Indian case is imperative. The Naz petition manifests some of these limitations. First, recall that the petition asks the court to read down and not to repeal the law to allow its use against child sexual abuse. Feminist and queer dissenters argue, however, that reading down the law seems to require leaving existing sexual categories untouched. Consider secondly the use of the right to privacy argument. As the law stands, two men cannot have private sexual relations because homosexuality cannot be conducted within ‘the right kind of privacy’ of a heterosexual marriage. Naz calls for the inclusion of homosexual relations among those privileged private relations that are protected under the constitution. The feminist and queer dissenters respond that once the notion of privacy is understood in its broader social context, it becomes clear that sexual minorities cannot even hope to enjoy the benefits of privacy. Gautam Bhan illustrates that since the homes of hijras are perceived as public ‘brothels’, police can walk in without even a warrant. Therefore, questions concerning who can afford and who is afforded privacy in India merit critical attention. Naisargi Dave’s analysis of the Naz petition captures the essence of the feminist and queer dissenting standpoint: ‘[Naz’s petition] has been critiqued by advocates as an anti-woman, and even anti-poor, political compromise to safeguard certain forms of newly respectable sexual behavior’. The author sees Naz’s efforts to secure privacy for homosexual men as opposing the feminist struggle to challenge the private sphere, which holds several women captive and protection through which remains a fantasy for several others. More generally, the feminist and queer dissenters see the inclusion of gender and sexual minorities into a hetero-patriarchal legal regime as reason for concern. Section 377 also renders it difficult to target HIV/AIDS interventions to sexual minorities and violates their right to life. Due to the threat of prosecution under Section 377, homosexual men do not seek the health services that are necessary for HIV prevention, which makes them vulnerable to transmission. Health service providers also are discouraged from reaching out to the queer community, which diminishes accessibility of services. Section 377 undeniably violates the rights and well being of sexual minorities, even if there is a debate concerning the usefulness of legal rights discourse. This article now turns to arguments against the repeal that have been put forward by the political and religious right in India.

 

Arguments against Repeal

The standard politically conservative response to the plight of sexual minorities in India has been to deny formal discrimination under the law. The Government of India, in a counter affidavit to the Naz petition, provides, ‘[Section 377] has only been applied on the complaint of a victim and there are no instances of its being used arbitrarily’. Alok Gupta astutely observes that rigid evidentiary requirements have obscured Section 377’s impact on sexual minorities. Since trial proceedings are not recorded, cases that went to trial under Section 377 and were not appealed remain unreported. Gupta recommends a reevaluation of evidentiary requirements as well as notions of harm, cause and injury ‘to fully understand the impact of anti-sodomy laws’. To undermine the plight of sexual minorities, the Government emphasizes the use of ‘neutral’ language in the statute: ‘Section 377 of the IPC does not make any distinction between procreative or non-procreative sex. It only provides punishment for carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. However, although Section 377 does not mention an offense of sodomy, the case law of Section 377 testifies that the state in fact applies the statue in ways that targets sexual minorities. A second argument against the repeal provides that homosexuals are not an Indian minority at all. The Government argues, ‘[there has not been] any history of persecution of MSMs [men who have sex with men] in this country, hence gathering, organising and publicly campaigning for ‘equality’ for such a group has no justifiable rationale’. This argument presents a dilemma for right advocates concerning the use of identity-based arguments. On the one hand, the use of identity categories such as gay and lesbian in legal discourse is inherently exclusionary and generally oversimplified. On the other hand, recognition as sexual minority group is critical within legal discourse that does not recognize equality claims unless they are made in reference to the normative standard of heterosexuality. A third related argument against the repeal posits that Indian society does not tolerate homosexuality. Citing the Law Commission’s 42nd report released in 1971, the Government argues, ‘Indian society by and large disapproves of homosexuality and disapproval [is] strong enough to justify it being treated as a criminal offense even where the adults indulge in it in private’. Since the Law Commission’s more recent 172nd report recommends that Section 377 should be repealed, this argument relies on a false appeal to authority. The more problematic part of this argument, however, is its reliance on majoritarian morality: ‘The public… have shown tolerance of a new sexual behavior or sexual preference but it is not the universally accepted behavior’. Legal reform does not necessarily reflect and may lead to changes in public opinion. The Indian Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, for example, did not reflect the outlook of a male-dominate public sphere. Furthermore, homosexuality is neither ‘new’ to India, nor a ‘western’ import. There is also at least some tolerance of and ambivalence toward homosexuality in contemporary India. Therefore, public opinion concerning homosexuality is not as monolithic as the Government makes it out to be. The public tolerance of homosexuality is itself extraneous to the deliberation of the rights of sexual minorities. The Government seems to be arguing for Lord Devlin-esque conception of legal moralism that is problematic both from a philosophical standpoint and also by appeal to constitutional rights. The harm principle condemns legal moralism, and it is possible that the harm principle and other appeals to liberty play some role in Indian jurisprudence. The Hindu right is another politically conservative group that argues that homosexuality is against Indian values, where ‘Indian’ is code for ‘Hindu’. Besides delineating ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ sexual relations as per usual, the right also distinguishes between ‘modern Indian’ values and ‘western’ values. Since homosexuality is defined as necessarily ‘western’, there is no place for homosexuals within the Hindu state. The leaders of the Hindu right occupy important political positions and influence legislative decision making in India. The courts, however, are relatively distant from their pervasive influence and are more open to secular liberal political voices. The law, therefore, is an important site from which to engage in a political struggle for sexual minority rights. These arguments against the repeal are flawed and cannot justify the prolonged existence of Section 377. A critical analysis of the conservative position reveals that it is against the fundamental rights of life, liberty and equality that are enshrined in the Indian constitution. In the end, these arguments strengthen rather than weaken the case for overturning Section 377.

 

Conclusions

Based on this article’s discussion of arguments for and against the repeal of Section 377, I want to propose three directions for legal reform. First, a law dealing with the sexual abuse of children should be created. Child rights advocates have campaigned for a separate law that addresses the needs of abused children, which are currently overlooked due to Section 377’s emphasis on ‘unnatural’ acts. The creation of a law dealing with the sexual abuse of children will eliminate the dilemma of deciding between child and sexual minority rights. Second, Section 377 should be completely repealed and not only read down. While legal reform sometimes impedes more radical efforts toward achieving positive social change, that is not the case here. By recognising the limitations and possibilities of legal discourse, rights advocates could and should use legal reform to improve the status of sexual minorities. There is no doubt that the repeal of the sodomy law cannot by itself relieve the plight of sexual minorities. Nevertheless, it may be a significant part of the solution. Third, there is a need for a broader conceptual shift in the understanding of sexuality and sexual assault under the Indian law. Rather than moralistic laws that maintain the hierarchy of natural and unnatural, there is a need for laws that recognise sexuality as a positive aspect of human life. There also needs to be a shift in the aim of sexual assault laws from the protection of the ‘modesty’ of women and children toward a consent-based approach. While some advocates are rightly skeptical about the creation of positive laws that will protect gender and sexual minorities, conjecturing legal possibilities is imperative for creating positive legal change in India.

 

 * LL.B. Candidate (University College London, United Kingdom), B.A. (University of Toronto, Canada). For inquiries, please e-mail yuvraj.joshi@gmail.com.

 

Published January 15, 2009

 

 

 

Eunuchs move SC seeking quota in jobs January 21, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Marginalization, Online/New Media, Transgender.
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From NDTV.com:

Two youths held for blackmail January 10, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in Crime, English, Gay, Times of India.
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From The Times of India:

10 Jan 2009, 0509 hrs IST, Nitasha Natu , TNN

MUMBAI: The Mira Road police arrested two college students for allegedly taking obscene video-clips of a civil engineer and his homosexualpartner, and blackmailing him. The two had threatened him to pay up Rs 5 lakh or they would show the clip to the his wife and circulate it in the society.

Based on the complaint filed by the engineer, the police laid a trap and arrested the boys while they were accepting Rs 25,000.

According to the police, the engineer resides at Andheri and has an office at Shanti Nagar in Mira Road. He was acquainted with the two accused, Wasim Shaikh and Shadab Baig, both 19. While Shaikh is studying in the first year of a commerce degree college, Baig works with a pharmaceutical company.

The unbreakable January 9, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay.
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From The Mumbai Mirror:

The unbreakable

A genetic disorder had Dinesh Gupta nursing 14 fractures by the time he was 13. He recounts his battle against the brittle bone disorder and coming to terms with his sexual orientation

By Lekha Menon

Posted On Wednesday, January 07, 2009 at 02:06:06 AM
At the age of 35, I went to school! And it was at that ‘ripe’ age that I experienced the thrill of attending classes, making friends, going to the cafeteria and doing assignments – things that are a part of ‘regular, daily’ life for most people. But my life has been anything but ‘regular’.

I was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease, a disorder characterised by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause. As a two-month-old baby I suffered the first fracture when I merely crossed my legs. Four months later, I sustained another one. Between two and eight, I had many fractures – sometimes when I walked, at other times, when I simply turned in my bed! But these would heal in a few days. The severity of the disease struck only when I suffered a severe, extremely painful fracture to my femur (thigh bone) during a trip to Ludhiana. At eight, I was disabled for life – unable to stand or walk. By the time I turned 13, I had suffered 14 fractures on various parts below the waist (my upper body was thankfully intact). But it left me and my family completely disillusioned. I stopped schooling and was forced to complete my studies from home.

OI is a genetic disorder. I inherited it from my mom, a diabetes patient, who suffered a severe fracture at 40. One of my sisters and niece also suffer from OI, but they are mild cases. Since I was born a few years after my mother’s attack, I was severely afflicted. My last fracture was at 13; it happened while I was sleeping! Apart from the excruciating pain, the worse part about OI is not knowing when you will suffer the next fracture. At times, it can strike the same body part. Thankfully, my bones stopped breaking after 13.

But I was going through another turmoil in my mind.

The turning point

After I attained puberty, I realised that I was attracted to men. Puberty, in many ways, was a blessing for me, for it not only stopped my fractures, but also aided my sexual development. Though I had not realised the implications of being gay, I confessed my feelings to my sister who supported and counselled me. Being practically bed-ridden, my social life was negligible so I never really understood the situation in its correct perspective, until years later.

Meanwhile, my struggle and the urge to lead a normal life continued. Despite the odds, I managed to score distinction in the SSC and completed my graduation as well.

After my SSC, I decided to get operated to enable me to walk again. The surgery at Hinduja hospital improved my mobility to a great extent. Within a year and a half, I started walking slowly, albeit with the help of a walker. It was an amazing feeling – I was actually walking after a gap of nine years!

However, it was only after I turned 25, that I started walking around my society premises (with a walker). The sense of freedom it gave me was indescribable. I slowly started going out for movies, to the beach and the ISKON temple, saw the setting sun and other sights of nature.

During this time I also discovered my sexuality. I had a few relationships which gave me the confidence to confront my sexual orientation head on. I approached the Humsafar Trust, and the counselling and interaction changed my perspective towards life.

After my mother’s demise a couple of years ago, I decided to come out of the closet. Thankfully, my father and siblings accepted me whole-heartedly.

A new direction

Yet, I wanted to do something to fill the lacuna in my life. That’s when I turned to writing. I joined the Digital Academy to get trained in script writing. It’s probably the best decision I made. The three-month course changed my life. I attended classes and started socialising, and it reflected in my moods. Slowly, the depression that had been haunting me for over 20 years started giving way to optimism.

I have written a story on my life which I hope to publish some day. I also want speak up more vociferously about gay issues. While society’s perception towards gays has changed in the past few years, there is still some way to go. It is high time the law at least decriminalised it, if not legalise it.

Most importantly, I want to do something for disabled people. There are hardly any support groups for OI- afflicted patients in India. I strongly feel the need for one to be set up so that they are taken care of physically, mentally, and socially.

Not everyone is lucky as I am to have a supportive family. Even today, though my legs are far from strong, I try to commute on my own, at least for short distances. I have learnt to accept myself, my sexuality and my life the way it is. This, by itself, has made a world of difference.


 What is brittle bone disease

Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder characterised by bones that break easily. Most forms of OI are caused by imperfectly formed bone collagen (a kind of protein). There are at least four distinct forms of the disorder representing extreme variation in severity from one individual to another. Some features of an afflicted person are blue sclera, dental issues, small stature, loose joints and poor muscle development. Treatment for OI generally involves prevention or correction of symptoms. Care of fractures, extensive surgical and dental procedures, and an orthopaedic procedure called ‘rodding’ are the recommended options.