Tag Archives: Gay Bombay

#PrideTalk: 21 (Fabulous) Men Tell Us Why We Need To Walk For Pride

 

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What’s that faint buzz that you hear (and feel in your bones)?

That’s the sound of Mumbai gearing up for its tenth-ever Pride March – and it’s charging up as you read this sentence. In a few hours, thousands of straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered folk will take to the streets for their right to love, their right to live, but most importantly, their right to be.

But are these numbers enough?

As these thousands take a stand and do their bit to make a difference, countless others choose to sit #Pride out instead  (and their excuses are equally abysmal.)

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is,  I asked 21 different men why walking the talk was necessary. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers.

They even poured in from my Tinder account.

Jokes (and accusations) apart, here’s what the men had to say:

Simply to stand up, and be counted. Wear a mask if you don’t want to be identified, but go nonetheless. Experience it and contribute to it, in however small a way.

Each attendance counts. 

— Varun, fashion editor

For one reason — continuum, because we owe it to our future generations.

The liberties that we enjoy today, the relative ease of coming out, the parties, the social acceptance, are all a result of  the social movement built over decades by people who had to face ridicule and discrimination.

It’s only imperative that we continue it all and play a role for furthering the cause for future generations.

— Aman, health professional

To spread awareness about the fact that it’s not a taboo to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. As a community we are extremely prone to protesting AGAINST something, but rarely in favour of anything. If more and more people walk the Pride, the other margin of the society who still think that it’s a taboo, will get to know that if a large part of the society is supporting a small community, it ‘probably’ isn’t taboo anymore.

Since the fear of homosexuality is so deeply rooted, primarily because of our attitude of rarely doing anything out of social sanction, the society in general needs to walk the pride and tell everyone how they accept homosexuality, in turn telling everyone else that it is ‘normal’ to be homosexual. The more the people, the more the acceptance, the lesser the fear of taboo.

— Paarth, filmmaker

The sole reason we need to walk the pride is to create awareness. To be taken seriously. To help explain that homosexuality isn’t a disease or abnormality you can cure, but an orientation.

— Sumeet, fashion designer

I think everyone should walk the Pride, whether they belong to the LGBT community or not  — straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered,  if you support us it’s time to take some time out, show those numbers to the society and show your level of acceptance to the government.

— Rehan, screenwriter

To show the world that queer people exist.

And that we exist in large numbers.

— Ujjwal, PhD student

Pride March to me is a yell of existence; we’ve been hidden in the dark for so long we need to be in the light so that no one has to live in the dark anymore.

Not just this time, but for many more times to come.

— Arnav, video editor

A Pride March is (still) one of the very few places and ways queer people can own and express their identities. And if we want the conversation around equality, rights and non-discrimination going, we cannot afford not to be visible.

— Jacob, writer

This year, our numbers need to be visible even more, especially since the political class needs the stats to even consider us to be any kind of vote bank.

— Anand, marketing executive

The reason why I love Pride (apart from the free service eye candy) is because, like almost all queer people in our generation, there had been a long period of feeling alone in my experience.

It’s a shell that is very tough to break out of.

That feeling of being the only one to live something so different was so heavy, I would not go even to gay parties for fear of being singled out. Which is exactly why — when I went to my first Pride after much contemplation — I was overwhelmed. It was a cathartic experience that heavily soothed this feeling of being the only one queer that I knew of.

Since then I have been going to at least one Pride a year. It is impressive because despite all this ‘growing’ that has happened since the first time, it is STILL a cathartic experience every single year. It shows to what extent we are unable to find things to relate to in the quotidian life.

And that is exactly why I will continue to go to pride. Apart from being the lovely celebration that it is of being yourself, it is a day when you contribute to the visibility of SOGI rights.

And this aspect holds not only for queer people, but also for everyone else. It is an opportunity for any ally of SOGI rights to make his/her/their own contribution by showing their support.

— Kaushik, research scientist

The single most important reason to march for Pride is to make sure the judiciary, the government and the country knows that we are not a minuscule minority, and that our rights matter.

We are not criminals (and never will be) and have the same rights as any other Indian citizen!

— Maanav Dev, restaurateur

To get a sense of community beyond what one might see on apps — there’s strength in numbers and if we want change at an institutional level, we are going to need our voices heard!

— Siddharth, academic and translator

Because it’s important that people see that we exist. That we exist in different age groups, that we are queens and that we are butch. We have beards and we put on make up, we wear heels and we have moods — and that’s just the gay men!

We are so much more with the LGBTQ community put together.

— Laksh, digital entrepreneur

The struggle for LGBT equality is a long and tireless one. Over the years, as societies have relatively evolved towards us, the LGBT community has regressed in its understanding of the long battle people have fought for this world and leaders to have conversations around ‘homosexuality’.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, George Cecil, Jeanne Manford, Harvey Milk and others who shaped this movement in times so difficult and extreme have been conveniently forgotten… sadly most LGBT youth would hardly even know them. How can we celebrate our ‘gay-ness’ when people in authority, like Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, pledge to persecute gay men or when statesmen in the Middle East criminalise and dehumanise us?

Our celebration lacks recognition and acknowledgement of this ongoing journey but remains a mere annual social gathering that fails to make any concrete statement beyond a single day’s headline. At the Stonewall March, there were no floats, no music blasting through the streets, no extravagance, body glitter and scantily clad dancers: it was a political statement and a test!

We’re working against deeply ingrained social mores that have been around so long no one even remembers how they got there anymore, and a visual of loud and proud, yet naive and un-informed men and women chanting and screaming and kissing is not going to cut it.

— Kartik (name changed), social worker

People should come out and show solidarity because in one way or the other, we have all shared the same (or similar) experiences while growing up.

A young LGBT kid, unable to understand or cope with his own desires, often one feels alone. Unable to talk to someone about it coupled with the feeling of isolation potentially scars each one of us. The pride parade and consequent publication of articles, photos and media coverage of the parade can, to my mind, lend immense support to a kid struggling with his/ her own sexuality.

I sure wish the concept existed in Delhi during my adolescence.

Additionally, often times such coverage of the Pride parade tends to focus on men in drag and other elaborate attire while ignoring the huundreds of people who are from the community and at the march, the ones who choose to dress more — for lack of a better word — conservatively. While I fully support everyone’s right to be themselves and dress as they wish to, the sole focus on the stereotypical ways of the parade, to my mind, takes away from the seriousness of the parade and the issues involved. As responsible citizens, the journalists/media must focus on the core issues, as opposed to just restricting their coverage to attention grabbing colorful pictures and headlines.

— Ansh* (name changed), lawyer

The word Pride itself suggests the whole purpose of why one should step out and join the march.

For someone who has ‘pride’ in his/her orientation, it becomes integral to participate and send the right message; so that acceptability (and more importantly, awareness) becomes more commonplace.

— Tushar, architect

To show the world that  we are not a bunch of crazy colourful people — we are doctors, engineers, artists, your co-workers, your brothers, neighbours, the person you think is your idol — for all those men  hiding in the closet because YOU make me an outcast for coming out of one.

— Karan, fashion entrepreneur

Visibility.

For too long gay men and women have been poured in casts of assumed professions, temperaments, and allowed limited places in everyday lives. People need to come out to represent diversity — cis, trans, gay, straight, femme, masc, camp, or even butch… but remain unapologetic, at the end of the day. We need enough representation for younger lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and straight people to find a bit of themselves in us, just so no one feels alone.

For too long we have been assumed minuscule, when owning our authentic self is every person’s dream.

— Anuj, consultant

Pride is not only limited to LGBT community but it is for all the oppressed sects of the society. So, if you think you are not exercising your freedom right, it is your one-way ticket to Utopia.

— Prashant, sales executive

To show people that we can protest with love and without waging a war.

But more importantly, because each voice counts.

— Vikas Narula, restaurateur

People, gay or not, should walk the Pride March this year to show that even while the country is in a state of turmoil over a movie screening that pushes India back in time back in time rather than moving forward, there’s a united front that wants change and people who are ready to be a part of the process to bring that change.

— Raghav, banker

#PrideTalk: The Beginner’s Guide To Lame Excuses

Lame excuses

Unless you’ve been living under a (rather fabulous) rock, you know that today marks the date for the city’s 10th ever Queer Pride March – which means that thousands of LGBT individuals and their straight allies plan to take to the streets, because the government won’t take up their (or more importantly, our) cause.

Now, If like me, you plan to show your support and march with your head up high – congratulations! I’ll see you on the other side. On the other hand, if you still need some convincing, don’t worry, because I’ve got a personal handbook that tells you exactly why you need to go and make your presence felt.

Why is it important that you go?

Because every person counts – and unless you are dealing with a life-threatening experience or an extreme case of diarrhoea, I see no reason for you not to walk the talk with your friends today. Still looking for a reason not to go, but don’t want to sound like a douchebag?

Then here’s the Guysexual’s guide to lame excuses that just won’t cut it anymore:

  1. ‘I don’t want to go because I don’t have anything to wear.’

Actually, you do – it’s called your personality. Now go flaunt it fabulously.

  1. ‘But it’s Saturday!’

Blaming the day is for the week-hearted. Pun intended.

  1. ‘I have a date lined up.’

Don’t be a drag – drag him to Pride instead.

It’s easy on your pockets, and heavy on the charm.

  1. ‘But I don’t have anyone to go with.’

Ask your sister. Ask your friend. Ask your next door neighbor. Ask your biology teacher (if she’s fun). You’ll be surprised how many people want to walk with you. And if you don’t find anyone else?

Remember that there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) like you out there. Pride is all about celebrating love – so why not celebrate it with some new friends instead?

5. ‘I completely forgot it was today.’

That’s surprising, considering you haven’t forgotten that Keeping Up With The Kardashians comes back next week.

  1. ‘Frankly, my dear, I think it’s a bit too much…’

Do you know what’s a bit too much for me?

Your attitude.

  1. ‘But it’s the same time as Sula Fest, and you know how I feel about wine…’

Side note: no ensuing headaches and hangovers involved here. Heartwarming feels, on the other hand?

No crate of Cabernet Sauvignon can ever provide those.

  1. ‘ Are you crazy? The whole of Grindr is going to be there!’

Of course, it is – but think of it this way – see someone you like?

You don’t need to swipe right on them anymore. You just need to go start a conversation.

And years down the line, when you are raising a toast at your wedding, you don’t need to lie about meeting each other at Starbucks.

  1. ‘Is this all really necessary? Think about the children!’

Actually it’s really important BECAUSE you need to think about the children – generations of LGBT men and women have suffered through years of ridicule, slander and discrimination so that the youth (both straight and gay) could live in a more accepting (and acceptable) world.

Now let them go own it.

  1. ‘I’d rather support the cause from behind the curtains.’

Unless you are a lawyer who’s fighting section 377 at the roots, or a philantrophist who has donated millions to the cause, you aren’t doing your bit just by downing shots at the pre-Pride fundraiser. What helps instead?

Putting those shot glasses down, and pulling up those socks instead. See, events like Pride are more than a celebration or a political statement: they are a place where you can connect with the movement, and learn about what small battles are being fought in your corner of the world.

  1. “I would have definitely come, but I am heading to Bali for a vacation…”

Instagram might be happy, but I am not.

Vacations will come and go, but city-wide movements will not.

  1. ‘My dog has a spa appointment…’

Bring him along.

Every pair of feet that marches for Pride makes a difference and here, your dog comes equipped with twice the usual number.

  1. ‘I really don’t have a problem being there, but do people really have to be in my face? Why does everybody have to be so over-the-top?’

The real question is, why do you have to be such an asshole?

  1. ‘Why does it have to be in the middle of the afternoon?’

Consult point 13.

  1. ‘I don’t really think it’s my thing.’

Is expressing yourself not your thing? Where else can you wear suspenders, a hat or even a tutu without being judged (side note: but not all together)?

Yes, at Pride March. So don’t be that person.

Come walk the talk.

Like I said, I’ll see you at the finish line.

 

#30DaysOfPride: 30 Gay Men Tell Me What Pride Means To Them

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June marked LGBTIQA Pride month.

To honour the #30DaysOfPride, I asked 30 different men what #Pride meant to them. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers. The fact that I have a huge social circle aside, here’s what they had to say about every gay man’s favourite little word (which is not Grindr):

‘Pride means spreading the rainbow love, just like a leprechaun. It’s about finding your pot of gold. Only, the pot of gold is acceptance.’

— Jaysh, film-maker

‘Pride is a platform to show that celebration has no gender or sexuality; and that we stand together as one — gay, straight, and transgendered. I feel like it’s a system that encourages more people to come out to themselves and then to the world.’

— Swapnil, computer whiz

‘Pride means the freedom to be whoever I want to be — fierce, feisty or fabulous. Freedom from prejudice. Freedom from hate. Freedom from Section 377.’

— Siddhanth (name changed), student

‘Pride is the distant hope of self-acceptance.  Am I okay being gay? Yes. Am I proud of it? Not fully yet. But I know I’ll reach there sooner than later. That said, I wish there was more representation for the LBT side of the community. Unfortunately, it’s still a ‘Man’s World’ here. Is there a Grindr for lesbians?’

— Akshat, advertising guru

‘Pride means pushing the government to legalise gay sex. Let’s be the democracy that we proudly say that we are.’

— Hayden, entrepreneur

‘Pride means not looking down on people who are proud to be the best version of themselves. Let’s stop the hate, and spread some love?’

— Arnav, video editor

‘Pride is a feeling of being comfortable with who you are, and being comfortable in your skin. It’s the simplest kind of joy there is.’

— Sumeet, fashion god

‘Pride is the one formal occasion where you can address the issue of your sexual orientation with the public without any preface — you simply don’t need one. It’s nice to have it out there, even if one doesn’t attend — that doesn’t need to bind you. But I’d love to see more allies attending. It’d be nice to know in person that our friends actually support us. The little things matter the most, don’t they?’

— Ganesh (name changed), copy editor

‘Pride means empowerment, freedom and inclusiveness. And the world (and we) could with a bit more of all the three.’

— Sahil, fashion manager

‘Pride for me is essentially doing away with any form of stereotypical associations and labels surrounding the community (yes, that includes rainbows and unicorns) while, it is also about NOT being judgmental. Each one of us is a distinct universe in itself, and our sexuality is a mere planet – this thought needs to percolate the mind of every human in the world.’

— Guru (name changed), cyclist

‘Pride means making the world a better place to live in, because we are better human beings, aren’t we? Now how about we welcome some gay bars in the country, and get some hot Latinos as well?’

— Oshan, marketing strategist

‘Pride means loving myself, and telling my demons to go take a hike.’

— Jacob, writer

‘Pride means positivity. It means that we have to stop discriminating within our own community based on body type and behaviour! You say “No fats, no femmes”? I say you are a douchebag.’

— John, analyst

‘I have an issue with the word Pride. To me, it is a reflective word wherein it segregates one kind from another. I would rather we use the world equality — for all sexes and sexual orientations, races, ethnicities and religions.  Equality will be a better goal. Not everybody was born equal, and not everybody wants the same things in life. I believe that we need legal and social-cultural instruments that allow for diversity. Beyond the legal and social struggles that plague the LGBT community in our heteronormative and patriarchal world, I have a sinking suspicion that the bigger challenge for the LGBT community will be fighting its own internal hypocrisy and inequality. I hope more people realised that.’

— Usmaan (name changed), architect

‘Pride is representation. It’s normalising the stigma that stunts diversity. For every little boy who goes to bed scared to keep a secret, Pride represents strength. To claim the life that is a privilege to many, but an everyday battle of coming out for us.’

— Anuj, consultant

‘They don’t call it a #Pride of lions just for aesthetics.’

— Kartik, copywriter

‘Pride here is San Francisco’s equivalent of Diwali or Christmas, without all the high-pressure gift giving or the elevator music. It’s a time for people to celebrate who they are, and unapologetically be themselves. But it’s also an occasion to celebrate everything that the LGBT community has achieved so far, and how much more work remains in the march to equality and acceptance around the world. Here’s hoping that Supreme Court of India finally acts on the issue, and more people speak up for the rights of the community.’

— Dhruv, doctor

‘Pride isn’t a week nor is it something that I seek. It’s not something that I wish for, nor does it define me. My sexuality is my business, just as a heterosexual man’s is. I don’t try to celebrate it, as I don’t mean to mark myself any different.’

— Kaustav (name changed), strategist

‘I am proud not for being a homosexual, but for the self-assertion that I am gay. Queer people just need a tad more self-acceptance and self-pride, because we constantly face challenges and doubts about ourselves. I want more and more people to come out; we need to show that we exist — after all, fighting for the rights of an invisible community will always be difficult, and we’ve already got a lot on our plate.’

— Deepak, psychologist

‘Pride is a bunch of mixed feelings. I believe in breaking the rules, and colouring outside the borders. For me, Pride represents emotions. It represents fight. It represents courage. It means that we are unequal, which is why one has to fight for justice.’

— Ronak, data analyst

‘Pride means homosexuality is so much more than just being a Lady Gaga song.’

— Raj (name changed), actor

‘To me, Pride is an amalgamation of three things.  To be comfortable with who you are and be able to exude the same, to acknowledge and be thankful for those who’ve stood up against the oppression, and to finally be cognizant of the fact that each one of us can be an agent of change in our own way, however big or small, to speak up about measures of inequality.’

— Ishaan, idea maker

‘#Pride means owning up to your orientation. It’s that simple.’

— Jaymin, founder at Salvation Star

‘To quote Albert Camus, “the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. When myriad colours, flamboyant attire and in-your-face unabashed sexuality walks along with the skeptical mask-wearing first-timers, the one message that resonates from Pride is of upholding individual liberty and respecting choice.’

— Aman, health consultant

‘Equal rights and equal opportunities. That goes without saying.’

— Rafael, illustrator

‘Pride is the antithesis of shame. The shame that queer people feel for being who they are, and that most continue feeling periodically over time. I feel like it is one of the steps we take towards not feeling this shame. What the country needs are more spaces in the cities where LGBT folks can socialise, outside of the regular bi-monthly parties. A space where we can finally, be.’

— Vinit, finance consultant

‘Pride is the mainstreaming of a conversation that all levels of Indian society need to engage in. LGBTQ folk come from all sections of the society and have many shared concerns: acceptance and normalcy being the top of the list. Pride helps bring that to light. At the same time, it also means being aware, sensitive and having conversations that might seem difficult: About HIV, hatred that stems from ignorance, our own biases and widespread loneliness. Pride needs to be a life long commitment, not just a day of merriment and brash defiance.’

— Varun, journalist

‘It’s something we shouldn’t be needing if we received equal treatment, but which we now have to display loudly just to kick sense into the minds of mud heads. If that doesn’t work, maybe a baseball bat would do. Just saying.’

— Kurien, chemical researcher

‘Pride is about inclusivity, even for all the gay men with the white-collar jobs.’

— Karan, stylist

‘Pride means being proud of who you are. It means quitting comparing yourself with others and loving yourself for what you stand for. What do I see for the future then? Better, comprehensive mental health care services for the LGBTIQA youth and anti-bullying laws that are more stringent.’

— Alok, food blogger

Yet Another 25 Men You Should Not Date in 2017

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What do you look for when you are looking for a great man?

Bright eyes? Undeniable wit? A smile that reaches his eyes? Billboard-style white teeth? An Instagrammable face? An ability to make you laugh and swoon at the same time? A closet full of expensive, Italian shoes that fortunately fit you too? A trust fund (that would be me, sorry)?

The list might be endless, but we all have our checklists ready when we are looking for our potential plus one.

While I can’t personally tell you whom you should be dating (because your life, your choice), I can definitely warn you against these 25 douchebags to look out for, and swerve around. Why?

Let’s just say that these men are so bad; they’d make me look like a nice person. Do you want to know more?

So without much further ado, never date a man who…

1. Says he secretly judges people who haven’t had ‘avocado on toast’.
You know what else they’ve not had? First world problems.

2. Adds an inspirational Internet quote to his display picture on Facebook.
I am sorry, but Rumi’s poetry doesn’t go very well with your shower room selfie at the gym.

3. Always brings up that one time you didn’t answer his call.

Especially in the middle of a fight, two years later. Even though he knew you were burying your beloved dead cat. All alone.

4. Substitutes his abs for a personality.
And while these abs (all six of them) might be dashing and full of manners in bed, they’d have a really difficult time having a conversation with your friends.

5. Says ‘Heeheehee’ instead of ‘Hahahaha’.
It just makes it sound like he-he-he’s up to something.

6. Corrects people’s grammar on Grindr.
He’s not at a book club; he’s only here to be sexually objectified like everyone else. If he wants to look more uppity, he could have his college degree up as his profile picture.

7. Pesters everyone he knows to say anonymous things to him on sayat.me.
How about sayat.me not?

8. Has his single malt with cola.
You never want that kind of negativity in your life.

9. Says something like ‘my ex is the reason why I haven’t been able to emotionally connect with anyone else ever since’.
Said every red flag ever.

10. Comments on YouTube videos.
And then gets upsets or sulks continuously when it doesn’t get enough up votes.

11. Surprises you with a threesome for your birthday.
Where the third is his ex boyfriend.

12. Uses the hash tag #NotAllMen
And still claims to be a feminist. Ugh.

13. Forwards you Whatsapp messages that need to be sent to ‘15 of your closest friends to avoid bad luck’.
Break out of the chain. Literally.

14. Wears glasses, even though he doesn’t have a prescription.
He says sapiosexual. I say douchebag.

15. Does not acknowledge his champagne breath.
Instead, offers you a breath mint as if you are dying of halitosis.

16. Claims to be a Twitter influencer.
Oh be still, my excitable heart — but make sure it’s in 140 characters or less.

17. Complains about how he had to skip out on the Justin Beiber concert because of work.
Maybe you should skip him instead?

18. Tells you that his favourite band is ‘an obscure indie one that you’ve probably never heard of ’ because they are that niche.

19. Is thrilled when he’s asked for his ID at the local pub.
Sure, some bored bartender validated your bag-free eyes, your lush head of hair and your perfectly lined teeth; but keep in mind he’s doing it only because he plans to earn that extra buck (or hundred) as a tip for being ‘such a darling’.

20. Sulks when you don’t compliment him for still fitting into his designer jeans from seven years ago.
Because his waist is not as large as his ego.

21. Is passive aggressive at the drop of a hat.
Including that one time you actually dropped his designer hat from Bloomingdale’s, and he asked you if you could be ‘a tad bit more careful’ the next time around. There was no next time around.

22. Calls himself a ‘connoisseur of fine men’.
That’s just a polite (and politically correct) way of saying he’s been around a lot.

23. Never calls his mother.
Unless she’s dead. Or abandoned him.

24. Disses you for listening to Lady Gaga.
But has Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album favourited in his playlist.

25. Asks you for a picture on Grindr, even though his profile is blanker than John Abraham’s face.
And there’s a very high chance he doesn’t look like John Abraham either.

#GuysexualRecommends: Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree: Time To Let It Glow!

 

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What: Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree!

Where: White Owl Brewery and Bistro, Lower Parel, Mumbai.

When: 9:30 PM onwards, Saturday, 6th May 2017.

Why: Because while the thirst for tasty cocktails and chilled artisanal beer is real this summer, the thirst for cute guys is even more so. Have a thing for pretty men in prettier clothes?

Salvation Star is your path to sexual salvation.

Plus hey, I’ll be covering the party LIVE!