Tag Archives: LGBT

Film And Fabulous: Finding Queerness in Bollywood in 2018

IMG_4750

 

I usually like spending my Sundays lazing around like a cat. It is an occupational hazard of being a millennial.

This past weekend however, I decided to give my weekly catnap a reprieve, and trudged halfway across the city to watch a matinee show of India’s latest chick flick (which is not a chick flick), Veere Di Wedding.

Armed with a tub full of caramel popcorn and a soda that had more calories than I could count, I sat down to watch the movie. It was refreshing, it was funny and it was full of actresses I have a boy crush on.

Twenty minutes into the movie, (SPOILER ALERT) they revealed that Kareena Kapoor Khan‘s beloved on-screen uncle (played by my childhood favourite Vivek Mushran) is gay. In fact, he even has a thriving relationship with a loving partner. But something seemed off.

Then the ‘little things’ begin to irk me. The way Cookie (yes, that is what they call him) uncle stuck out his little finger while holding his drink. His partner’s floral shirts. His hand gestures. His over-the-top display of affection in a song-and-dance sequence. Their shared distress over the wedding invitations. Their need to be fun. The tiny things. The insignificant things. The irrelevant things.

I am not saying I did not like the movie. I did, I really, really did. For two and a half hours, I was transported into a make-believe world of first world problems, smokeless cigarettes and rampant brand promotion.

But I expected more.

See, if this were a Sajid Khan or a Luv Ranjan production, I would not have had a problem – their homophobic characters will forever be overshadowed by their highly misogynistic plotlines.

But this is different.

Because when a movie has been directed by Shashanka Ghosh, and features a cast of A-list actresses and veteran actors (including the men who play the gay uncles, Vivek Mushran and Sukesh Arora) who have given us A-list performances, this sort of representation just seems like a giant letdown, especially when all their Instagram feeds are clogged with rich, influential gays who do rich, influential things.

Do not get me wrong. The transition of queer representation from the bitchy, manipulative fashion designer (it is always a fashion designer) to the fun, understanding uncle can even be considered as the harbinger of the #EverydayPhenomenal – but is it enough? (Side note: Mildly altering the pathbreaking words of Miranda Priestly, ‘Florals for queer representation? Groundbreaking.’)

Did the uncle have to be gay? Did it further the plot? Did it further his character?

The movie has a star cast that boasts of equal parts nepotism and new-age indie actors (which I have been told is the fail-safe formula for any Bollywood blockbuster), an amazing soundtrack and dialogue delivery that will leave any mother to shame. But with a new brand being introduced every 10 minutes and no real plot development for the (not one, but two) erstwhile gay characters, the movie may very well have been a giant YouTube ad that you cannot skip.

And I could not.

‘Why are you getting so offended?’ My friends asked me. ‘Why do you think it is wrong? What else were they supposed to do?’ My rant had only started a series of whys and whats – ‘why don’t you hold your horses? What’s your grouse here? Why don’t you just watch the movie? What do you want them to do? What else could they have done? Why don’t you calm your tits?’

Well, why don’t you just shut up?

The gay man in Bollywood has become the token black guy in every white movie. A background prop, someone (or something) that makes the movie seem ‘more inclusive’ – like brands that scurry to make more LGBT-friendly content during International Pride Month.

But then again, when was Veere Di Wedding not a shameless brand plug-in?

It is 2018, and it should be getting better – people say it is too trivial to hold silent protests and candlelight vigils over ‘such things’. Too much effort. Too hipster. Too mainstream. Too unnecessary.

But is it really too much?

In the past decade, Bollywood has barely scratched the surface of LGBTQ+ depiction with caricature-like portrayals of gay men who were either camp (and therefore ‘less’ than the cis-hetero men who sidelined them) and/or hypersexual (playing on the fear that gay men were out to steal your testosterone-pumped husbands, boyfriends and next-door neighbours).

You would see it everywhere – laced as the fiercely flamboyant principal in Student Of The Year, the bitchy model coordinator in Fashion, the boyfriend-stealing best friend in Page 3 and the obviously-straight-but-pretending-to-be-gay leads in Dostana (2008). Gay men were, therefore, background props who became the butt of all jokes (excluding this one.)

Sure, Veere Di Wedding changed all of it. It made the gay characters positive – fun, witty, fashion-conscious men that women are drawn to for emotional support and douchebag-related dilemmas. But did they have to be gay?

I will tell you a close-guarded secret. These overly ‘positive’ messages, which you see a lot in the media – that gay men are particularly fashion-conscious and bitchy, and a woman’s ‘gay best friend’ – can be extremely pressurising. But why should we make do with token gay characters, pushed to the background as comic relief or a pleated pants-wearing plot device? What if we want to be serious and boring? What if we want to be a part of the everyday?

Packed in floral shirts and skintight jeans that seem to put the respiratory system at risk, we have only become cookie-cutter (no movie pun intended) representations of ourselves. I really don’t mind the flamboyant stereotype because it is honestly not a stereotype – but is it our only form of representation?

With movies like Call Me By Your Name and Love, Simon (both of which did not see theatrical releases in India, so here is a shameless plugin to #ReleaseLoveSimonInIndia) where LGBTQ+ characters are not just nuanced and layered but also pushed right to the forefront as movie leads, Hollywood has taken a giant leap in showing its support for the rainbow movement.

And that is only in the past eight months. So why should Bollywood trail behind?

The problem here does not lie with Veere Di Wedding, or even Bollywood, in hindsight. The problem lies in the complete indifference with which the Indian media deals with homosexuality in general.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a ‘label-breaking’ advertisement. Helmed by an award-winning director known for his indie work, it was a #TimeToBreakStereotypes video campaign for a high-end luxury brand. They needed an openly gay man for a small bit role, and here I was, fresh out of the closet. It was Pride Month, and I was bursting to do my bit for the community (and my 15 seconds of fame).

On the day of my shoot, I drove over to the set with a fresh haircut and fresher hopes. Between a hurried costume change and makeup session, I peeped over the assistant director’s shoulder to read my character’s description on the call sheet: There were only two words.

Gay Two.

The fact that I was not important enough to be ‘Gay One’ aside (in my defense, it was an androgynous supermodel), was this really what we had come down to?

Because if the urban intellectual can be so unsympathetic to an entire sexual minority’s problems, what can we really expect from the rest of the country? Is it because of the instant dismissal of any character that is NOT the quintessential straight male lead? Or is it because the film industry fears social backlash for making a movie with strong, affirmative gay leads?

Or maybe the two reasons are the same thing.

But I still feel like we can do this. We are queer, and we are here (and to quote a fabulous friend, we are not going anywhere anytime soon, dear). The time is ripe for some fresh, realistic portrayals of queerness in Bollywood. Someone who has aspirations. Someone who has problems. Someone who likes Sunday catnaps.

Because if the LGBT+ community can step out of their closets, it is high time that Bollywood should too. I can personally vouch for the fact that the wedding sequence will be bright and glorious.

The Guysexual’s Guide To Every Diva In The World

kardashian

There’s a popular misconception that all gay men are divas, but as a marginalised group, it is no surprise that they are often characterised stereotypically. Prior to the past two decades, gay men’s portrayal in the mainstream media has been rather minimal, and when they do make it to the screen, their characters are constructed out of clichés.

‘Oh! He wears prints?’
‘He must be a diva.’
‘Could you hear him cackling all the way across the room?’
‘Definitely a diva.’
‘Who else can carry off bubblegum pink?’
‘That’s diva 101.’
‘How else can he be dressed to kill every single time I see him?’
‘He wrote the Guide To Being A Diva, I tell you.’

But that’s the thing. The Diva is not necessarily your man of fashion – he’s not the stereotypical fashion designer or the bitchy stylist you meet at the bar. The Diva hides in plain sight, he’s everywhere: the accountant from work, your next-door neighbor, your friend’s colleague, the jock from high school, you.

The Diva is like Batman – an ordinary man by day, a caped crusader (albeit with pleated pants) by night – only this vigilante rids the world of bad manners and bad dressing sense. Want to know how to sort out the fabulous from the fabulist? Here’s the Guysexual’s guide to every gay diva in the world:

*

The Diva says things like, “We’ve got the same numbers of hours as Beyoncé does.”

He actually believes it.

*

Perpetually 26, his Sundays are Instagram-ready hours of lazy brunches, infused cocktails, and Pinterest-worthy desserts that he swears he won’t take a bite of.

The Diva will call you ‘his cookie’, but we know he wants to bite you.

*

The Diva’s favourite adjective to describe himself is also his most-searched word on Google: flawless.

*

The Diva quotes Diet Sabya.

*

The Diva feels that hipsters try too hard. He also splits up his styles into nine different categories: Formal, semi-formal, casual, semi-casual, street-chic, party-chic, disco-chic, somber and straight acting.

*

The Diva air-kisses and airbrushes so much, he can list it as a skill on his LinkedIn.

He probably has.

*

The Diva eats quotes by RuPaul for breakfast. He washes them down with a no-foam, soy milk latte and sarcasm.

*

If the Diva had longer hair, he’d flip it more often.

*

The Diva has an intense seven-step exfoliating ritual. Nine, when he’s going out for drinks.

*

He won’t drink beer, because a pint is the equivalent of seven slices of white bread (which he won’t touch). On days when he wants to let loose, he’ll have a few gin and tonics, and load them up with cucumber slices or almond bitters.

But he’ll tell you that a ‘Skinny Bitch’ is his official go-to drink. That’s also what his friends call him behind his back.

*

The Diva scrolls through Gigi Hadid’s Instagram feed at the dentist’s.

*

The Diva plans to start a crowd funding campaign to bring the Queer Eye boys to India. He has quotes by Jonathan Van Ness up on his wall. It’s all very tastefully done.

*

The Diva rates the boys he dates. He has a 4.2 rating on Uber.

*

The Diva likes his drama just the way he likes his A/W Fashion Week: with access to front row seats.

*

At least five supermodels call him their best friend, and swear that they’d die to see him in a fulfilling relationship. They wouldn’t try setting him up with any of their other (read: obviously less close) gay friends though.

*

One time, he sat next to an A-list actress on an airplane, and she told him ‘he was very pretty’. He’ll tell you it was Priyanka Chopra, but he told somebody else that it was Sonam Kapoor.

*

The Diva can’t decide whether he’s team Madonna or team Cher, but secretly, he’s team Britney.

*

The Diva hates sapiosexuals. He thinks they wear their attitude wrong.

*

The Diva might be clueless about stock options, but he can reference any shoe brand by their make and catalogue number.

*

The Diva has a RompHim jumpsuit in his online shopping cart. He plans to buy it for his birthday.

*

The Diva likes to call his aesthetic sense ‘quirky’. His haters (that’s what he calls them) seem to think it’s more ‘whimsical’.

*

The Diva references Keeping Up With The Kardashians on a regular basis. Over multiple bottles of Moet Chandon and bite-sized nibbles of overpriced cheese, he’ll tell you he feels like a ‘Khloe’. But he’s a Scott Disick.

*

The Diva Instagrams his takeaway cup of cold brew coffee every morning because he thinks frappuccinos from Starbucks are ‘too mainstream’, unless it’s a Unicorn frappuccino.

*

The Diva dreams of marrying the Boy (it’ll be a white wedding), and he regularly leaves thirsty comments on his Instagram feed. They always go unnoticed.

*

With his undeniable wit and free-for-all sass, the Diva is every straight girl’s wet-dream-come-true: because he’s a fashion-spouting sounding board that she doesn’t even have to friendzone. Like they say, he’s the perfect summer accessory.

I’ll tell you a secret? The Diva feels the same way about her.

To Mum, With Love: What It Means To Come Out As The Parent Of A Gay Son

Mother's_Day_New

 

I’ll tell you a secret about my relationship with my mother. Each of our relationships with our parents is such an individual thing — even between siblings, sometimes — and they can be difficult for us to understand from a distance.

My relationship with my mother is far from perfect. Over the past decade, we’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve pulled our hair out, we’ve said mean things to each other that might put school bullies to shame, and we’ve had cold wars that have lasted multiple hours and meals. It’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride.

But that’s how most relationships are, they aren’t perfect. And that’s the beauty of it.

A child might not be perfect — not too bright, not too beautiful, not too charming, not too enterprising, not too much of a good thing — and still, a mother would love it to death. She’d nag, but love her child like a lioness loves her cubs.

My mother is like that.

She treats nagging and scolding me as a daily chore — it’s become a part of the routine. But then again, it’s ourlittle routine. It’s like a two-person comedy act — only there’s no background laughter — unless you count my exasperated older sister who stays miles away, but still hears of all my idiosyncrasies through the telephone. I love every little bit of it.

See, I might be a selfish, spoilt brat who might have more vices than virtues (here’s looking at you, endless bottles of wine and rum), and my mother might have reserved her dirtiest of looks for each and every one of them, but that’s what mothers do — they antagonise, because they adore.

And mine adores me to death. The past three years could have been turbulent — with the coming out and what not — but they weren’t. Twenty-five years of her having lived in an orthodox family, and yet, I’ve had some of the most remarkably open conversations with her. Was she okay with my coming out? Maybe not. Does she like it when I talk about being gay on social media? Definitely not. Has she any clue of what the LGBT life is all about? Clearly not. In fact, I thought we were going to live in a state of peaceful denial of my sexuality till thishappened last year.

My mum came up to me sometime in August of 2017, as I worked away on a deadline. She looked visibly upset. Sensing it was something I had done (and had no clue about), I asked her what was wrong.

A daughter of an acquaintance had just given birth, she said to me, and sweets had been delivered all over the society. Our family had been inconspicuously missed out. She suspected it was because I was gay, and they didn’t want to ‘rub it in’ that I might ‘never have a child of my own’.

I asked her whether she was sad that it happened? Kaju katlis are a big deal, after all.

She said she was, but only because she was surprised that she knew people who were so narrow-minded, that they couldn’t see beyond the boxes they stayed in. Then she went on to tell me how sugar was bad for your body anyway, and that we’d all live a more fulfilled life without any ensuing boxes of sweets. If people couldn’t deal with her son’s sexuality, then she didn’t need to deal with them (or their sugary gifts) at all.

I hugged her tightly then and there.

I hope this serves as at least one model for a positive way to react. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know for me, she couldn’t have reacted more appropriately (or heartwarmingly).

My coming out story might have been a breeze, but coming out as the parent of a gay child is no easy feat. Because I might have had to come out of the closet only once, but for my mother — as a supportive parent — it’s an everyday struggle.

She’s sat through awkward dinner conversations with strangers (‘…and then I told my son, you can marry anyone as long as it’s not a boy!’), shot down questions by distant aunts (‘’it’s okay if he’s gay, but does he have to be gay for the whole world?’) and even ignored jibs by concerned relatives (‘we understand how you must feel that your son will never get married…’) with the same stance.

One of cold defiance.

My mother is an exceptionally fierce woman. Her problem with most of these situations isn’t the quintessential ‘how-could-they-say-that-about-MY-son?’, it’s the more empowering ‘how-could-they-say-that-about-gay-people?’

And that is gut-wrenchingly heartwarming.

Is my mom completely comfortable with my sexuality? Maybe not. Is she curious about the gay life? Not really. Does she love me to death nonetheless? Always.

I don’t expect my mother to tag along as I march for LGBT Pride. I don’t expect her to flash the rainbow flag at a family lunch. I don’t expect her to ask questions about my love life (or lack thereof). I don’t even expect my mother to have a conversation with her friends about my sexuality. My mum’s not one of those mothers.

She’s so much more. She might never understand the depths of my struggles as an out-and-about gay man, but she’ll still school anyone who tries to question the same.

I am proud of the woman my mother has become, and the son she’s making me out to be. I might not be the perfect one, but she’s made peace with the fact that I never will be. And that’s the first step of any loving relationship. The peace to co-exist with all your faults and regrets. To confront what’s not wrong. To fight for what’s right. To know that I am loving (and living) my life to the fullest. To understand that I’ll go back to being the insufferable child right from tomorrow.

To all the mothers who are reading this who will ultimately have to deal with their own child’s coming out, I say this: don’t feel guilty about not being completely on board till you’ve asked all your questions. It’s okay not to be okay. As long as your child is not being made to feel unloved or uncared for, express your love (and confusion). That’s half the battle won. The other half is finding a nice, handsome and charming boy who can spend the rest of his life with your ungrateful child.

Thanks for meeting me on the other side of the closet, mom. #HappyMothersDay to you.

I promise it gets better.

— Illustration courtesy Amrai Dua

April Fool’s Day: Stay Away From These Six Online Dating Liars!

 

April_Fool's_Day.jpg

It’s April Fool’s Day.

Which means people all over the world are fooling their friends and family with standard pranks and jokes you could probably buy in a DIY kit. While it’s one thing to get fooled by the usual ‘replace-toothpaste-with-antiseptic-cream’ trick, it’s a whole new world of pain when you get catfished by someone on the dating app of your choice.

Want to know how to sort out the prankster from a potential romance? Well, here are six men that you can swerve around and ignore this April Fool’s Day:

The Busybody

The busybody is perfect on paper. He’s ambitious, passionate about work and so disciplined, he could be the vice principal at your school.

But that’s where the perfection ends. You might think the Busybody is a Post-It pumping man of God, but he’s really not. One second he’s feeding you strawberry tarts, and the very next, he’s so busy he needs a clone just to reply to your texts. The busybody is a man of multiple engagements, only because he’s engaged with multiple men at the same time.

He’s always occupied with something slightly more important – a friend’s birthday. An office conference. His sister’s giving birth. His dog is sick. His sister’s giving birth again. But at the end of the day, when you check his daily planner (and don’t even deny that you will), you’ll see that it’s emptier than his soul.

The Celebrity

With his movie star looks, manicured beard and twinkling eyes that deserve their own spot in Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame, the Celebrity looks like Fawad Khan. In fact, if his profile picture is to believed, it could be Fawad Khan.

Unfortunately, it isn’t and this is not your personal rom-com. For every five genuine profiles on Tinder, the celebrity rears his (very pretty, but obviously fake) head with a billboard-worthy face and a sparkling set of teeth that unfortunately don’t belong to him. How do you spot him? The Celebrity hides behind film star silhouettes, stock photos, or the Google search result for ‘Hot Men, Indian’. Three lines into a conversation, the curtain calls and your blockbuster movie fades to black.

You never see him again, because he’s out of the theatres (and your thoughts).

The Nun

The Nun will tell you that he doesn’t want to have sex with you, because he wants to connect ‘emotionally’ – that’s short for ‘he wants to get to know you before he gets to know the colour of your underwear’. You believe him, and sip freely on your fourth glass of wine.

The Nun is beautiful, and in a grid of half-naked torsos and unsolicited dick pics, he helps you see the light. You gush at his stories, laugh at his jokes and get turned on by his endearing sense of humour – before you know it, you are hopelessly falling in love (and into his bed).

Time for a quick news flash about Nuns. Chances are, if ‘I don’t want to have sex on the first date’ ever comes up in conversation, they’ve already plotted how to get you back to theirs, what they’ll do to you (or have you do to them), and how long they’ll give it before they very politely ask you to book your Uber ride back home.

And those scabby knees?

He’s been on the confession stand.

At the doctor’s clinic.

The Grown Up

The Grown Up chugs out inspirational quotes like a Pinterest board. He says he’s tired of being up on the ferris wheel of fuckboys, and is now looking for something ‘real and mature’. He makes the Sapiosexual look like a child. You giggle, and ask him what he’s looking for?

He’s done playing the game, he tells you, because he’s now looking for the ‘One’ (which is convenient, because ‘you just waltzed into his life as if it were a Christmas miracle’). He’s attentive, always puts you first and is great with comforting hugs (and more) when you need one. He’s everything you could ever want in a man.

Until that moment when you end things with him, and he sends you thirty-three vicious (and obviously alcohol-induced) text messages in a row.

More than half of them have typos.

The Supermodel

The Supermodel muddles up his vital stats like I muddle up my Income Tax returns (but only one of us is successful). On his profile, the Supermodel has it all. Washboard abs that you can iron your clothes on. A jawline that you can cut toast with. Cheekbones that are so high, they could have snorted five lines of cocaine. He walks the runway for breakfast.

But I’ll tell you something. He’s the one who adds a couple of inches to his height, knocks off a couple of pounds from his weight, and multiples your body issues overnight. Whether he’s used a picture that was taken back when Orkut was still relevant, or added an assortment of filters that rakes up Instagram hearts by the dozen, the Supermodel’s body type will always be the biggest lie in the online dating world.

It’s high time we accept the harsh truth, and move on to the next profile.

The Hustler

The Hustler is the Ari Gold of the online dating world. With his slick hair and slicker attitude, the Hustler is someone who knows everybody who is an anybody. He regales you with anecdotes he shared with a top musician, casually references having brunch with a rich socialite wife, posts regular Instagram photos with nubile models, and jokes about that ‘one time’ he made an A-lister snort with his sense of humour.

But remember one thing: a date who tries to impress you with all his influential friends (and their gossip) is full of shit – people who hang out with stars never talk about it until they know you or trust you enough. Chances are he’s only telling you about exclusive tables and VIP tickets because he wants a backstage pass to your bedroom. You should tell him that his all-access pass isn’t valid, and that the velvet rope is staying exactly where it is.

Tightly bound by your chastity belt.

 

The Return of Fantastic Men and Where (Not) to Find Them

 

Return of Fantastic Men

 

Everyone knows that there’s no dearth of wrong men in the world.

You’d (chest) bump into him at the gym, lock shopping carts (and eyes) at the gourmet supermarket, or parallel park on a bench at the neighborhood park — he’s everywhere. And yet, the only place he shouldn’t be?

Your life.

Thankfully, while you already know of a few places to skip, here are a few others that you need to avoid if you want to avoid meeting the biggest regret of your life:

1. Your local gay pub

Your local Friday night pad might seem like the ideal place to pick up some loving, but it’s probably a good idea to pick up the cheque instead.

Think about it. This is the same place where you played tonsil hockey with the bartender. Dirty-danced with the Spanish expat who never called back. Did seven shots at the bar before ultimately passing out on the manager’s chair. Cried into a stranger’s breast pocket over a bad breakup (before ultimately going back home with him.)

To look for your future plus one at the same place where you vaguely recall puking the contents of your vodka-lined stomach (in the ladies bathroom, nonetheless) can leave a bad taste (pun intended) in your mouth. But how do you pass the chance for a do-over, when you are packed like testosterone-filled sardines in such a tight space (with men in even tighter clothes)?

Chances are the suburban Greek God you are locking eyes with at the bar, has already locked eyes (and more) with half the crowd on the dance floor — and while he might grind with you for two whole dance numbers (including a slow Beyoncé track), there’s something you should know.

Do you see that meandering line of men that you assumed was the queue for the men’s washroom? That’s actually a string of hopefuls just waiting for you to be done (and done with) so that they get their chance with Prince Charming-me-out-of-my-pants-already.

That is why it’s better not to catch feelings; because there’s a high chance you might catch syphilis instead. Now down your martini, and down your hopes of finding love here.

Let’s just go back home.

2. The therapist

You are here for your 4 pm appointment.

There, as you flip through trashy magazine after trashy magazine, (Is Beyoncé pregnant with twins? Who is Selena Gomez dating NOW? Justin Beiber leaves Instagram! SENSATIONAL!) He walks in, a five o’ clock stubble and piercing brown eyes that have dark stories to tell — just as he will, on the couch in 20 minutes.

Finding a date at the therapist’s seems like a fair deal – why not heal your heart while you heal yourself? But remember, the waiting room is a lot of things, but it is not a place to flirt. It’s the airlock between the chaotic outside world and the sanctuary of your therapist’s office — you come here to solve your problems, not create potentially new ones.

And while the tall dark stranger across the Marie Claire’s and Cosmopolitans looks like a great catch, the only chance you have of working things out with him is if the two of you go on a double date with your inner demons.

Well, he might look like a troubled soul, and you’ve always had a prepubescent fantasy of making over (or making out with) a bad boy — so why let your pimply 15-year-old self’s dreams go waste? Maybe you can befriend him over therapeutic tea and ‘let’s-just-settle’ scones?

Unfortunately you can’t bond over Rorschach diagrams — what if he sees a skull in the inkblots that you see a butterfly in? It’s sad, but his ENTP is no match for your INFJ.

Unless you want the premise of your love story to be the poignant tale of how you mixed up your antidepressants with his, no story that begins at the therapist’s office has a happy ending. You should probably give the Fawad Khan-lookalike a pass, because if you don’t, you are just going to spend more hours (and more of your heard-earned cash) on the therapist’s couch wondering where it all went wrong. Why don’t you just head online?

3. Your ex’s home.

 Stop.

Don’t do it.

Trying to find love back in the arms of the (mostly toxic) ex is like trying to find a clean restroom on the highway — there’s a very, very low chance you’ll be happy with what you find, and a very, very high chance you might end up with a bad case of chlamydia.

Sure, you might find yourself at his doorstep with a tub of his favourite ice-cream or a bottle of expensive wine as a peace offering, but don’t forget that the last time this happened, the only thing that got served was you.

See, there’s no magical end to this story wherein, after 15 break-up-to-make-ups, you go over to your ex’s apartment (in the rain, of course) and suddenly have a Nicholas Sparks-esque reuniting moment in their lobby while you tell each other all of the things you did wrong and lick tears off each other’s faces. No. You’re just going to break up again. We like going back to the ex, because it’s familiar and easy. But you cannot get swayed by these cheap ideals because it is ultimately unfulfilling, and if it didn’t work the first ten times, it won’t work now.

Instead, why don’t you go have a look here?

The Guysexual’s Guide To Every Heartbreaker In The World

guysexual's_guide_to_every_heartbreaker_in_the_world.jpg

 

Sumit, an illustrator, met Zishaan, an interior designer, at a friend’s bring-a-single mixer.

It was a classic meet-cute.  A match made in architectural heaven, he would tell his kids one day. They had mistakenly picked up each other’s glasses (double vodka sodas with a hint of lime juice) and then bonded all night over their mutual love for the Big Little Lies Soundtrack. Before the party had ended, they had (consciously) picked up each other’s Instagram handles.

After a whirlwind first date at a local bistro, Zishaan had texted Sumit telling him that ‘he wanted to see him again. And again. And again’.

After the second — an indie movie at a derelict single-screen — he messaged with a stream of endearing heart emojis.

After the third, the designer made an in-joke about the chocolate chip sundaes they had just shared, just after he kissed him goodbye under the starry sky. He’d use that one in his wedding speech, Sumit had gushed to himself later that night.

Sumit had met a lot of men in his life: there was the It Boy he had spent months chasing (who dumped him for a socialite prince), the Gym Freak he had joined the gym with (who believed in free weights and free love), the Hipster he had gone vegan for (who sold him out for Alt-J’s concert tickets), the Sapiosexual who made him do crossword puzzles (and realised he was not as good), and lastly, the F**kboy who said he wanted to give Sumit all his love (but gave him genital crabs instead) — so many men, but none had felt the same way.

With his broad grin and broader shoulders, Sumit rightfully thought Zishaan was the One. He was charming, he was funny, he was full of those soul stirring words that made Sumit dream of Disney musicals. Plus, he didn’t have genital crabs.

But the one thing he was not?

Available.

Five dates in, Zishaan was always busy. He was always swamped with work. He was always attending a friend’s birthday. He was always a ‘let’s just chill next week?’ text away.

In retrospect, Zishaan was the quintessential heartbreaker — and like many others like him — he eventually pulled a Houdini, and disappeared without a trace from Sumit’s life. The Disney musical sadly couldn’t even make it to its second act.

Like Zishaan (and other self-diagnosed misunderstood men), the heartbreaker is the junk food of the dating pool — the Big Mac, the Whopper, the Crunch Taco Supreme — he’s good for a quick bite, but bad for your long-term health.

But can you really tell your Disney prince from the douchebag?

It’s simple. Wave away all that fairy dust, and scroll through this list before you start planning your tropical Bae-cation in Aruba: if the object of your affection checks five items on this list, he gets a yellow card; if he checks seven, he gets a red card, and if he gets more than 10, stop reading this list and send him a goodbye text right away.

Because there’s a chance he never will:

The heartbreaker wears his own line of perfume. It’s clean and invigorating, and has notes of cypress combined with hints of cardamom, cedar wood and a base of vetiver root, resulting in a blend that’s ‘comfortingly familiar and mature’.

He calls it Heartbreak, by ‘Me’.

*

The heartbreaker will look at you endearingly, and tell you that ‘he’s never felt this way about anyone else before’.

He’s also said this to three other boys in the past week.

*

The heartbreaker is quick to christen you with a pet name. It’s usually a variation of his favourite dessert.

It’s also usually a tactic because he doesn’t remember your name.

*
The heartbreaker disables his read receipts on Whatsapp, because it’s so ‘exhausting’ to keep a tab on all the conversations.

But he mysteriously won’t reply to your messages on Facebook Messenger.

*

The heartbreaker flakes like he Instagrams.

Incessantly.

*

The heartbreaker is a seductive blend of witty one-liners, intuitive pop culture references, heartwarming texts and dimples that run deeper than the Marina Trench.

All four have high success rates.

*

The Heartbreaker’s favourite adjective to describe himself is also his most-searched word on Google.

Misunderstood.

*

The heartbreaker has built his walls up so high, he’s thinking of selling them to Donald Trump.

He plans to do so at a profit.

*

Over bite-sized bits of cheese, he tells you all about his exes. Ishaan wanted to move in too early. Rohan would never stop calling. Ameya decided to tell his friends why they broke up. Atul begged to take him back by standing outside his apartment all night. Vaibhav called him a cheating scumbag. Anuj threatened to set his house on fire. Paarth asked his mom if she knew her son was a psycho. Ram stole his wallet. They were all so crazy.

He conveniently forgets to tell you their sides of the story.

*

The Heartbreaker calls himself a ‘lone wolf’. The Alpha of a one-man army. He never talks about his family, friends or anyone really significant, and seems committed to keeping it that way.

But yet, he’s always hanging out with them when you try making a plan.

*

As he hand feeds you breakfast one day, he’ll laugh and tell you how ‘everyone will warn you that he has a bad reputation’.

Only he’s not joking.

*

The heartbreaker doesn’t roll up his sleeves, because that’s where he ‘wears his heart.’

Only this time, he’s joking.

*

The heartbreaker only wants to ‘hang out’.

*

The heartbreaker leaves a breadcrumb trail of likes through three years’ worth of your Instagram pictures.

But he still won’t ask to follow you there.

*

You spend more time talking about the heartbreaker, than to him.

*

The heartbreaker doesn’t like to ‘plan’, he’d rather just ‘live’ the date.

In the confines of his living room, with pre-mixed cans of gin and tonic.

*

The heartbreaker flits through relationships like you flit through magazines at the dentist’s. In fact, he ended his last relationship just while you were ending your workout for the day.

*

When he asks you to come over for some #NetflixAndChill, that’s all that he wants to do — binge-watch a Netflix original and chill with canapés and a bottle (or two) of expensive wine.

Bonus points if it’s a bottle of York Sparkling Cuvee Brut.

Even more bonus points if he makes the canapés himself.

*

The heartbreaker is too conflicted/ too damaged/ too busy to be ‘in a relationship’. He wears it like a badge nonetheless, and uses it to introduce himself at mixers.

It works like a charm, especially when he mistakes your vodka soda for his.

*

See, but that’s the thing about our guy. He’ll tell you he’s not a heartbreaker.

And that’s exactly what makes him one.

So pull out those Band-Aids. You’ll need one.

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

 

PRIDE_TALK.jpg

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