While writing this blog, I couldn’t resist mentioning my friend Namzie who proclaimed himself bisexual on social media in 2009. He was dating (or at least pretending to date) girls in college while sleeping with his classmate in the hostel. He told me the tag “bisexual” made him look cool even though deep down inside Namzie and I both knew he was a pure bottom.
‘Sexuality’ is how you express yourself sexually. It is how you feel about sex, the people you are attracted to, the things you’d like to do in bed. Men who find other men attractive should call themselves ‘gay’ and people who find both men and women sexually attractive may say they are ‘bisexual’. But, this doesn’t happen in India. No matter how funny and ridiculous it sounds, Indian gay men love labeling themselves as bisexual.
In western countries, people from the LGBTQ community use words like ‘gay’ to define them while others would rather not be labeled. In our country, it is a different story. In this blog, let’s try to figure out why Indian gay men are more comfortable with the “bisexual” tag.
Sexuality and sexual expression is an important part of many straight men’s lives as they grow up in India. However, Indian gay men have to deal with hyper homophobia. Sexual feelings and sexual attraction towards men can be exciting for any gay man, but also complicated and confusing. Declaring to the world that you are gay can be especially hard when everyone around you would assume that every Indian man is born heterosexual.
But it’s much ridiculous to know that this homophobia exists within the Indian LGBT community too. Bottoms are considered lower than tops. But, if you label yourself as a bisexual man, you are hailed as a hard taskmaster and that one “experienced” guy.
I know we don’t talk about it much, but Indian guys struggle to feel at ease being anything other than gay. Many of us grow up, come out and have a great ‘self-acceptance’ story to tell. For others, especially the ones in rural India, the journey can be rockier. The culture of small towns and cities has never cared about the children who struggle to come to terms with their sexual identity’. When they realize they are gay, they need support and someone to talk to. But, trust me they never have this access, which ultimately leads to self-loathing.
Consequently, many men claim to be ‘bisexual’, stating they have the freedom to experiment. They simply want to give themselves the time to adjust. Until they don’t trade these feelings for anything else in the world, they are comfortable with being called ‘bisexuals’.
No one to look up to
Since 2013, many voices have been heard has during the LGBT rights movement in India, however, the representation of LGBTQ people in media and films hasn’t reached anything close to the western world. While gay characters are finding finally their places globally, India is still lagging behind.
If Karan Johar could do anything good for the Indian gay apart from coming out to the public that would be not stereotyping gay characters in his films. Be it Dostana or Student of The Year, the portrayal of gay men in his films is extremely laughable and ridiculed. No wonder if this and having no role model to look up to subconsciously push young Indian gay men to never proclaim their true sexuality simply because nobody wants to be called Bobby Darling on the street. On the contrary, if you play it cool and call yourself bisexual, people still wrap their head around it, rather than calling you “Chakka” right away.