Tag Archives: LGBT

Made In (Gay) Heaven: A Queer Man’s Guide To The Amazon Prime Original

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Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven dropped its full season on Friday, and I won’t be lying when I say that I was a tad bit apprehensive about watching the show.

Excited, yes. But also very apprehensive.

On paper, it seemed too good to be true. Created by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti who helmed the iconic (and my eternal favourite) Gully Boy? Check. Starring a cast of good-looking actors with even better acting chops? Check. Exploring (but not mocking) the inner recesses of Delhi’s upper-class elite? Check. Lots of sex, drugs and rock & roll? Check. Just about every commendable indie actor gracing the guest cast? Double check.

Like I said, the show could be every Bollywood junkie’s wet dream (come true) – because it looked like it had everything. In fact, if this were a boy, I would have wooed him with flowers, and taken him out on a La La Land-inspired date.

But that’s the thing. Like most boys I’ve dated, this had the potential to blow up in my face (no pun intended). Why?

Over drinks many months ago, an anonymous insider told me about a WIP wedding-themed show with a meaty gay character (who had a meatier storyline). Said anonymous insider had thought it would make me happy.

I had only sighed.

In the past, Bollywood’s treatment of homosexuality has been both over-the-top and under-the-belt – queer men have been packed in bright florals and skintight trousers, only to become cookie-cutter caricatures of themselves. I honestly don’t mind the flamboyant stereotype, but contrary to (most of) Karan Johar’s films, there are more queer sub-cultures that are waiting to be voiced.

True, the 2019 cycle of representation has been iconic – from Shelly Chopra Dhar’s ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ exploring a lesbian love story, to Sridhar Rangayan’s ‘Evening Shadows’, a touching tale about a city-bred man coming out to his small-town mother – but they came with their fair share of triggers. Take the former, for instance – where the central voice of the reason in a queer narrative is still a CIS heterosexual man. A nice understanding man, but a CIS man still the same.

So you can imagine my apprehension when I jumped right into Made In Heaven (armed with a bottle of wine and Chinese takeout) with an open mind and a heavy heart. Did it make the cut?

It didn’t just make it; it nailed it.

Without giving away too many spoilers, Akhtar and Kagti’s Made In Heaven is the most honest representation of Delhi I’ve ever seen, coming a close second to Anuja Chauhan’s fascinatingly funny ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’. The number of things I liked about the show would make this sound like a love letter, so I’ll stop (because I never know how to deal with unrequited feelings).

And that’s one of the best compliments it can get.

Made in Heaven is a binge worthy show about rich society wife Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) and her gay business partner/friend Karan Mehra (played effortlessly by (a rather straight) Arjun Mathur (I know because I checked), who solve cases plan weddings, while dealing with the trials and tribulations of their own personal lives – philandering husbands, snoopy landlords and bone-breaking loan sharks, to name a few.

And this is where Arjun Mathur steps up and completely changes the game as an actor playing a strong, sensible gay man. For a character to shine in such a giant crowd is commendable, especially since there hasn’t been such an all-encompassing cast since the Game Of Thrones series. So how does his queer representation appeal to the mehendi-wearing, Marlboro-smoking queer man in me?

Because he could be anybody. He could be your brother. Your friend. That popular kid from school. The class bully. The owner of your favourite jazz bar. For all we know, he could even be your wedding planner. And Karan Mehra is all of them. He’s your everyday gay man™.

The everyday gay man™ plays video games with the same enthusiasm he shows in attending queer soirees. He flits in and out of V-neck tees, but wears bespoke designer kurtas to engagement parties. He loves his wine, but he drinks beer too. He struggles with coming out to his parents, but he’s also struggling with debt. He has sex (full fledged #NSFW sex, but not too #NSFW because I know my mildly conservative mother binged the show without batting an eyelid) with lots of lean, toned attractive men, but feels lonely without his ex.

But hold on, the show isn’t just about aesthetically pleasing queer men having (aesthetically-pleasing) sex with each other. It’s about so much more.

Because MIH doesn’t just toy with the idea of a queer storyline; it polishes it and puts it up on the mantelpiece proudly, for the whole world to see (and give coveted looks at). And there’s no token gay man here, there’s an entire spectrum of gay men – gay men who are about to be married, gay men who are already married, gay men who are in same-sex marriages, and gay men who never want to get married. For a show that’s heavily built on the premise of wedded bliss, this seems like an inside joke that we are all privy too.

And then the show does something else.

It dwells deep into a world that’s still not rid of Section 377, and brings queer culture (and rights) front and centre; in a way very few movies (or Indian television shows) have done in the past. And before you know it, you feel the scary repercussions of the age-old draconian law as it pushes the main character into a plot that we all need, but don’t deserve.

Suddenly, he’s the central hero (or anti-hero, based on how you look at the string of broken hearts and broken men he leaves behind) – coming out to his parents, owning up to his life and taking a stand for queer rights, all in a span of three episodes. The beauty of Made In Heaven’s queer narrative lies in the fact that Karan’s character is never a bumbling sidekick or the token comic relief; he’s the main lead.

Akhtar, Kagti and Alankrita Shrivastava’s writing constantly challenges the norms of love, relationships and marriage, but they seal the deal with their conversations on sexuality. The coming-out sequences are as gut wrenching as they are heartwarming, and while his small talk with his various paramours makes for great television, it’s Karan’s final conversation with his closeted landlord (played by Vinay Pathak) that steals the (wedding) cake.

Made In Heaven makes gay people what the media has never managed to do – it makes them real. And if this is the path they have chalked out for a second (and hopefully, future) season, I’ll gladly walk the aisle with them.

Conclusively, if I have a question for the makers of the show, it is this – how (and more importantly, why) do all the queer men in the show look like they ‘ve stepped out of the cover of GQ magazine?

And secondly, if and when I plan to get married, how do I get the fictional ‘Made in Heaven’ company to come plan my wedding with one of these aforementioned men?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gay Men And Casual Sex

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Love stories can be weird.

I meet Shamita, a high-flying lawyer at friend’s birthday soiree. She’s pretty, she quips about pop culture and politics, and makes Kim Kardashian jokes over dinner – I find myself instantly attracted to her. Over drinks, we bond over our mutual appreciation for menthol cigarettes and men who refuse to commit.

Am I falling in love?

Not so fast, lover boy. Somewhere over our third gin-and-tonic, as we bemoan the lack of desirable men (but not mates) in our lives, and are this close to being each other’s back-ups when we are well in our 40s, Shamita throws the quintessential jab at my sordid dating history:

‘But it’s okay if you are a slut, you are gay!’ she splutters, as I gently thump her on her back.

‘Umm, what?’

‘Yeah, that’s the whole point of Grindr, isn’t it?’ she grins.

Is that supposed to be endearing? Amusing? Consoling? Comforting? My platonic love story – like all my other romantic escapades – dies an early death. It was too good to be true anyway. Plus, she hasn’t read my piece from last week, where I rebuke people (such as her) for so harshly judging the love lives of flippant gay men (such as myself).

I am not amused.

As a 30-year-old gay man, I have no qualms about being on Grindr (or any other dating app for that matter). I have heard the ‘buh-dupe’ sound everywhere I’ve gone – the club, the gym, at Starbucks, my favourite restaurant, and this one weird time, from the pockets of my local general practitioner.

Apps like Grindr (and the motley crew of matchmaking apps it is part of) have been the gold standard for men to meet (and mate with) other men. But then again, what about dating (read: hook up) apps for straight people? Certainly, Tinder might be the closest thing to a hook up app for non-gay folk, but it absolutely falls short of being a full-fledged mate-making service. There’s no space for sexts and all the ensuing unsolicited dick pics. Surely, gay men aren’t the only group of people who want to engage in casual (but also toe-curling) sex. So where is the disconnect?

It’s in the relationship that people believe gay men have with their ideas of casual sex. Is it the first of many nights of morning-afters? An all-access pass to the neighborhood sex clinic? A jigsaw puzzle of ‘what not’s’ before you find your ‘why not’? A patchwork quilt of essential bouts of heartbreak? Or most importantly, the first stop in your rites of passage of finding a relationship?

What is it not?

A parameter for approval by anyone else. While acceptance by ‘this’ society is useful in many ways, we lack foresight when we try making it our primary goal. LGBT equality stands for many things – better representation, more visibility and the scraping away of prejudices and the patriarchy. But most importantly, it stands for living the best lives we can lead.

Equality has never been about being palatable to society. It’s about having the freedom to do whatever you want to do, just like our heterosexual friends – our relationship with NSA sex included. We have half a dozen other battles to fight, because when you are already dealing with transphobia, racism, sexism and violence against LGBT youth, there simply isn’t any time (or fu*ks to give) about who is having sex with whom, and how often.

Just remember one thing: You’ll never win with a homophobe, just like you’ll never win with your mother. So there’s no point trying to please one (mothers on the other hand, are a different case). Instead, go live your life as vividly as you can. That can mean swiping at gold-rimmed mason jars for your wedding registry, or swiping right on half a dozen boys on Tinder in a single night.

At the end of it all, you have to do ‘you’.

Or just about anyone you want to.

How Do We Find Love, In The Time of Tinder?

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It’s the week of Valentine’s Day.

Urvaksh, a 30-something banker, loves plaid, almond milk lattes and artisanal beer. Like most quintessential gay men that I know, Urvaksh is on the lookout for ‘sweep-me-off-my-feet’ love – the kind that you find in dog-eared romance novels and primetime soaps. But as is the case with quintessential gay men, Urvaksh is also ‘hopelessly’ single. A status that stings more so during this painful week; suddenly, Netflix feels lonely, and bar deals (two for the price of one) seem too taxing to finish.

But Urvaksh isn’t one to give up. He takes ‘finding love’ very seriously – a trait that’s equally heartbreaking and heartwarming in gay men around the country.

To further his cause in finding romance, Urvaksh goes out on a new date every week (while sleeping with thrice the number of people in the same time) – and falls in love every fortnight. It’s a tough life, but he survives (and so does his company-provided credit card). But that’s not where his rat race for romance ends. Urvaksh has premium memberships with Grindr Xtra, Scruff Pro and Tinder Plus, which means that he has paid big bucks to find the elusive ‘Mr Right’.

So can ‘Mr Right’ get here right now?

He should. That’s three times the boys (on Tinder), an infinite supply of blocks (on Grindr) and billboard-style exposure (obviously, on Scruff). This way, an unlimited crew of underwear models, upcoming fashion photographers, Type A consultants and highflying entrepreneurs can spot him before anyone else does. The stats are definitely on his side, but the stars?

Not so much.

‘It’s just not working out,’ Urvaksh tells me over a drink, at a gay shindig in January. He’s Super-Liked boys on Tinder, favourited the nicest profiles on Grindr, Woof’d appropriately at hirsute men on Scruff and even looked around more than once on Hinge (although he feels quite unhinged after his experiences there).

‘How hard is it to find someone you can just have a conversation with?’ he asks me, but doesn’t give me time to respond.

‘… And no, I will not have drinks with someone whose username is ‘CockRings7’. Tell me, why are all the nice boys not online (read: available)?’ He blows off steam (and smoke) in my face. Honestly, who’s to blame, when someone ends his Grindr profile with the classic ‘only 9+ cocks apply’?

Urvaksh does, but I don’t bring it up. Instead, what I do tell him is that all the nice boys are online – they are just complaining about the fact that there are no nice boys online.

‘I think I should just go off dating apps, I really can’t do this anymore,’ Urvaksh tells himself, and I wonder why I am even a part of this conversation.

‘Now can you just be my wingman at this party?’ he pleads, finishing his beer with one large chug.

Uh-oh. That’s why.

The Internet says that dating apps make romance conveniently fast and easy; it’s like fast food – deliciously satisfying, but really, really bad for your health.

But when has the Internet ever been right? Anyone who says that finding love on dating apps is easy has never spent hours trying to figure out what the gorgeous photographer means when he sends you an ill-timed ‘eggplant’ emoji. Does he like aubergine or is he just hot and horny? It’s a mindboggling maze of deciphering smiley faces.

And fast?

Nope. I’ve spent months chatting up multiple Mr Right Now’s’ in the search for Mr Right – and it’s been as painful to watch as an episode of Splitsvilla (but then again, equally high on drama).

It’s a tale as old as time; fuckboys, douchebags and dimwits aren’t custom-made at a secret Grindr factory, they’ve been around since eternity. So is Grindr (and the motley crew of matchmaking apps it is part of) killing romance in the dead of the night, behind locked phone screens and locked doors?

Let’s get it straight. It’s not.

Technology has been facing the brunt for being the cause of most of our world’s problems – the television stands shamefaced for its contribution to the rise in gun violence, the refrigerator regrets its hand in rising child obesity, the microwave has been getting in the neck for global warming and the steam iron might as well have been the single reason for frayed denims.

“I wish I could meet someone the old-fashioned way,’ Urvaksh sighs, as I light up another cigarette. What’s the old fashioned way?

Strangers wobbling out of a bar together into 17-odd months of regrets, slurred voicemails and alcohol-induced arguments? Being awkwardly set up by friends at a house party just so that they don’t have to listen to your scrambling singledom survival stories over scrambled eggs at brunch? Bumping into someone while waiting in line at a coffee shop just to realise that they like their coffee with milk, weeks later?

If you think your next big love isn’t hidden behind a mesh of profiles on the dating app of your choice, there’s a very big chance he’s not waiting for you at the bar with free drinks (and if he is, there’s a chance he might put it on your tab). Conventional ways of finding love are dying out and for good reason, because we just don’t have the time (or the hope to leave things on chance). Instant gratification is in.

Sure, Grindr can be that dark dreary place that you’ll be in an on-again, off-again relationship with (because on more than one occasion, you’ll be propositioned for a golden shower at 2 am, that’ll make you want to shower multiple times after), but in this Instagram-obsessed world, it helps you reach out to people like never before – with or without filters. Plus, a relationship built on a dating app is no less real than the one forged over mixed-up orders at your neighborhood coffee shop.

Still struggling over why you are single on Valentine’s Day? Maybe it’s time to introspect – could it be something to do with your personality (or lack thereof)? Could it be something to do with the fact that you are seeking out people’s preferences in bed rather than their preferences in life? Or could it be the fact that your profile description says that you are ‘looking for a soul mate to share a life with’ but you go by ‘WildTop4U’?

Maybe, but I feel like my Netflix rom-com is on its way. Now pardon me, while I go swipe left on every boy on Tinder.

#PrideTalk: 37 People Tell Us What #Pride Means To Them In A Post Section 377 World

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We’ve come full circle, boys and girls.

In less than a week, the city walks its eleventh ever Pride March – which means, the city’s (and the country’s) gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brethren will take to the streets to walk for freedom, for love, and for everything in between.

This year is a monumental one as it marks the city’s first ever Pride March after the Supreme Court’s decision to read down parts of Section 377, thus making same-sex relationships legal (and the world a happy place again)!

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is, I asked 37 queer folks what #Pride means to them in this (ever-so-slightly) progressive world. Our relationships may be legal on this bright(er) day, but we still have miles to go before we get the rights we deserve: workplace equality, the right to marry, anti-discrimination laws. The list goes on, but the questions don’t.

I asked, and the answers poured in from everywhere. Here’s what they all had to say:

Finally being and cherishing who I am and not giving a damn about what the neighborhood aunties will think.
Arnav, poet

Not having to assure people that you like ‘girls and boys’.
Harikesh, legal consultant

Being able to express myself the way I really want to. As the best (and truest) version of myself.
Kartik, copywriter

Stop trying to obsessively define queerness. Be inclusive. Be loving. Be kind. Be cool.
Mahima, writer

In fact, it shouldn’t need a definition. I don’t need to explain what, why or who. Straight people don’t come out or give explanations, so why should we?
Thangsing, blogger

Self-acceptance. As a biromantic homosexual, it took me 17 years to accept who I really am.
Arunava, chef

Not making a conscious effort to hide my sexuality.
Saumya, student

Feeling brave enough to wear makeup and heels as a cis man.
Harshvir, daytime diva

Pride means, to be you.
Harsh, poet

Not feeling guilty for loving or wanting what your heart truly desires.
Tanvi, team leader

Joy.
Arzoo, illustrator

As a bisexual woman, I want reactions to be ‘OMG tell us about her!’ instead of ‘Oh, so are you gay now?’
Diya, Netflix addict

Being as proud of your crush as your straight friends are of their’s.
Ronak, marketing intern

Breathing freely.
Ananya, student

The strength to come out to my parents.
Soham, not disclosed

Being able to take all the negativity that has been thrown my way, and make it my personal strength.
Arjun, MBA student

Companies capitalising on a social movement.
Alankrita, HR professional

It’s plain, pure joy. The joy of homonormalisation!
Tushar, baker

Professing my love without the fear of trolling.
Pokhraj, student

People not saying things like ‘I’m okay with queers as long as they are not affectionate in public.’
Hiranmayi, Tumblr connoisseur

It’s all about being someone you’re proud to be and not ashamed to accept.
Anukul, management trainee

A sense of knowing and appreciating who you really are.
Iti, architect

Finding love and the strength to finally come out to my parents.
Dirk, entrepreneur

Educating others about the LGBTQIA+ community and not feeling uncomfortable because of it.
Prajwal, fashion student

The right to just be. To be treated without prejudice or discrimination, just as an equal.
Chittajit, science enthusiast

A colourful world.
Eklavya, college student

Focusing on the rights and freedom of the lesser-known members of the queer spectrum.
Rakesh, chemical engineer

Pride still means the same, pre or post Section 377: Be yourself unapologetically.
Paartho, columnist

Freedom.
Abhilash, consultant

The granting of civil liberties and marriage rights.
Kavita, panel moderator

Finally owning that runway walk I pretend to do on the streets — fierce and liberated.
Shethin, lawyer

Developing positive self-statements.
Naveed, writer

Greater responsibility to ensure some real change happens in the society.
Indrajeet, queer rights activist

Loving myself first.
Hruday, actor

To be more positive towards my sexual orientation and fellow 250 million queer folks around the world.
Rashi, chartered accountant

Breaking stereotypes, and making straight people realise the different shades of the queer spectrum.
Lokesh, researcher.

Being ‘normal’.
Rishabh, graphic designer

The Queer Guy’s Guide To New Year Resolutions for 2019

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2018 came to an end, and so did my dreams of ever finding a happy ending.

As I pretend that my seventh glass of champagne is only my second, it’s time for me to ask those questions all over again – what do I remember 2018 by? The number of boys I ghosted? The number of boys who broke my heart? The bad decisions I woke up to (and with)? The bottles of prescription drugs I wolfed down? The shots I downed to forget? The hangovers I’ll never be able to forget? The hours I spent at therapy after? The resolutions I vowed to make? The resolutions I’ll effectively break?

As gay men (such as myself) parade into the new year making resolutions (and asking questions) that we’ll only give up on a week later, here are a few that I hope that don’t get lost in the sea of confetti, cheap champagne and regrets.

Want to know what they are? Simply slide into 2019 with this queer guy’s guide to NYE resolutions (but not like those ugly dick pics that slide into your Instagram DMs):

Ditch the dating apps, but don’t ditch out on the dates

There really is a high chance you’ll find the next big love of your life at the bookstore, or your favourite neighborhood bar (and we won’t judge you even if it happens at the gym.).

Then again, don’t lie about your age, height or weight on your online dating profile

72 kilograms are sexy, and so are you.

Don’t dismiss someone who’s considerably older or younger than you are

But make sure he’s legal.

Put an end to the ‘New Year, new me’

You’ll always be you. If people could change overnight, we would never have so many seasons worth of great television.

Be a nicer person. If you can’t, try till you succeed

Gay men have the potential to be a lot of things – charming, well-dressed, effortless, established, articulate, artistic or even high on drugs. But still, a lot of us choose to be d**chebags.

Take an active interest in politics

Because some of these decisions actually prevent gay men and women from receiving equal rights, which is just plain sad.

Let your biggest regret this year be not eating that last cupcake

But you should go ahead and eat it anyway.

Stop answering texts from the ex

There’s a word for it. It’s called ghosting.

Read more, but don’t read more into what other people said to you

Books are sexy and mysterious, just like the hot guy who makes eye contact with you at the bar (and then disappears forever). Reading online lists doesn’t count though, unless you are reading this one.

Do something that frightens you, not someone who frightens you

The list can include learning how to tap dance, skydiving and eating alone at a restaurant. Things the list should not include? Having unprotected sex with a complete stranger.

Exercise for health, not your crush’s phone number

If you want those six pack abs that you can eat sushi off, make sure you are doing it for yourself (Side note: even though eating sushi off your stomach can be quite unsettling).

Be okay with being single

There’s always 2019. And 2020. And 2021. And 2022. And so on.

Understand that brands don’t make the man, manners do

Very few men who have the latest Louis Vuitton bag will want to hear about your day at work.

Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that’s not going anywhere

Especially when the only place it’s going is downhill, with prescription bills.

Actually enjoy experiences, instead of just Instagram-ing them

And if the ratatouille doesn’t look as good as it does under the Aden filter, don’t eat it.

Tell the next boy you like how you really feel about him

The world would have more romances if less people were scared of sending two text messages in a row.

And if he doesn’t feel about you the same way, respect his choices

Because, boys and men, consent really is key.

Stop all the self-hating

If there’s one thing that I love more than money, it’s myself.

Be happier

Go on, you deserve it.

How We Met Each Other: A Brief History Of Finding Queer Love

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Rizvaan, 20, and Sumeir, 22, met each other on Instagram.

Somewhere over their matching flower crown filters and millennial names, they found and added each other, and (over a period of many Instagram stories and inappropriate GIFs) hopelessly fell in love.

Rizvaan calls it fate; the other calls it public privacy settings. It’s been a relationship of many ups and downs, but they’ll always agree on one thing — they look their best with the puppy dog filter (which they use extensively to woo each other).

Dating is that simple today.

There’s no denying that Rizvaan and Sumeir have had it easy.

Before Instagram became an overnight phenomenon for men (and women) to flirt with each other, the dating world for the quintessential gay man was a very different place (even sans the filters); over the past few decades, we’ve come a long way — and it’s nothing like the world we live in today, or the one we read about.

It all starts many thousands of years ago.

Throughout our ancient texts, there have been various descriptions of a multitude of saints, gods and demi-gods breaking gender norms much before Jaden Smith even knew what it meant –– Vedic literature speaks of Mitra and Varuna, gods of great intimacy who were often mentioned together. They ruled over the universal waters; the former controlled the ocean depths and the lower portals, while the latter governed over the ocean’s upper regions, rivers and shorelines (no wet jokes allowed by the editor).

Then, there are mentions of Agni, the god of fire, wealth and creative energy, having various same-sex sexual encounters that involve ‘accepting semen’ from other gods. Elsewhere, Mohini, the ‘female’ avatar of Lord Vishnu has been worshipped throughout Indian culture — gay, bisexual or transgendered — it’s evident that LGBT men have existed ever since mankind did.

And they’ve been finding each other ever since.

Over the decades, we’ve gone past searching for the next big something under the neighbourhood streetlight — we’ve fondled other men in unused washrooms, signaled each other with colourful handkerchiefs at traffic signals, and bumped into one another at seedy, dingy bars (and then a few drinks later, in bed). Was it the whirlwind marathon that I make it sound to be?

Not really. That’s close to four decades of gay cruising, concised in four sentences.

And then everything changed. The nineties happened.

In 1990, the country saw its first LGBTQ platform in the form of Bombay Dost, also the nation’s first queer magazine. It welcomed men seeking men to write letters to each other, making personals popular much before Shaadi.com did. But that’s not all — as we excitedly filled in our classifieds and preferences, trends changed once again. Online portals like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Chat provided a substitute to the magazines in the mid-nineties, and we moved from personals to personal chat rooms. We hid behind usernames and blank silhouettes, stepping into a new sexual revolution that would slowly fashion itself into the one we know today.

This was the beginning of a new form of liberation. Now, we got to type out our ASLs in anonymous Yahoo chat rooms and giggle over gay personals in queer magazines. The trip from the streets to the sheets has been long and hard (no pun intended), but it’s been an interesting journey indeed. Vijay, a 40-something friend who runs an NGO, has seen both sides of the millennium, and he has a lot to say about it.

‘I’ve found myself in a public washroom more than once,’ he tells me over drinks one night. ‘And I found myself loud and clear, if you really know what I mean,’ he adds with a lecherous wink.

really don’t — he’s an activist, so I think that nothing he says can be inappropriate (politically correct, yes).

‘What do you mean?’ I still ask, not being able to help myself.

‘I’ve had help, and it was beautiful.’

‘How so?’

It turns out it was very beautiful, indeed — and a lot of men helped over the years. A cab driver from Bhilai, a student from an Arts college in town, two stockbrokers who work in the financial district, a waiter from an Udipi restaurant down the road and a television star with a girlfriend who stays by the sea (the one time). His list goes on for 10 more minutes — detailed musings of his encounters and escapades, as I drink glass after glass of diluted rum. ‘I know it’s easier now, but there was an adrenaline rush every time you found someone new — was he gay? Would he understand the signal? What if he told on me? What if someone walked in? That made up for more than half of the excitement of having sex.’

Where do we go from here?

Not the restroom.

We evolve (So did Vijay, who is a veteran). We’ve moved on from clandestine trysts in wash rooms to ones on our phones in ways that were previously unimaginable. It’s 2018, and dating apps today are the manifestation of what mankind has been doing for centuries — devising new forms of communication, and then manipulating them for finding love, sex and long-term relationships.

Technology is revolutionising romance. Over the past few years, we’ve sent ‘footprints’ to torsos on Planet Romeo, favourited boys on Grindr, woofed at hopefuls on Scruff and super-liked our way through a dozen matches on Tinder. And we’ve even got the numbers to prove it. With more than 10 million users worldwide, Grindr recorded a surge from 11,000 to 69,000 active new users every month — simply within a span of four years, and that was back in 2015. Scruff, on the other hand, deals with smaller pools of men. And even though they only have an outreach of about 15,000 users in India, they still saw a 25 percent growth within two months of their launch. Numbers never lie; unless it’s the phone number you pass on at the end of a drunken night.

Today, even though online dating has been in the headlines (of mostly trashy online magazines and internet sex columns) for ‘hijacking modern love’ and trivialising the concept of everyday romance, we are at the dawn of a new age. Every year, new dating apps and websites sprout, making it easier for men seeking men to find each other, and fall in love (or in bed.)

And now, we are only moving on to better things — retweeting tweets to rekindle romances through Twitter, poking men indiscreetly on Facebook and waiting for them to salaciously poke us back, sending Instagram love to anonymous strangers, sharing their intimate brunches, birthdays, all the while gushing at pictures of Bobo, their cocker spaniel, when you’d rather be gushing over a romantic breakfast in bed for two. If you look at it, things haven’t changed much. We still scout the roads and send winks, only now we do it from our smartphones — social media has never been more sexual.

Technology makes trysting easier, because now you longer need to explain to a policeman why two grown men are parked in a side alley at midnight, with their pants (and inhibitions) lowered all the way down to their knees. The underworld of gay romances is so out and about, it could be a badly written Karan Johar movie.

And yet, we are nowhere near the end.

Like I said, this is just the beginning. All you have to do is break in.

Just make sure you use the right Instagram filter.

The Guysexual’s Brutally Honest Review Of Delta

Delta_app_guysexual_by_amrai

It should come as no surprise when I say that I’ve traversed the A-Z of online dating to find the elusive needle in the haystack of honest, hot men. I found a few As, a couple of Bs and a whole lot of Zs. I’ve dodged some Xs and questioned a bunch of Ys.

But it still looks like we’ve missed a few Ds. Well, there’s only one thing left to do.

Dial D for Delta.

Just make sure you don’t hit up the American airline company with the same name.

What it is:

Delta calls itself ‘India’s first homegrown LGBT community, networking and support app’, and if you didn’t get that the first time they told you, they’ll make it a point to reiterate it everywhere else — on their website, in your email inbox and even your phone’s push notifications — in fact, it’s one ‘good morning’ text away from being an active part of your family’s WhatsApp group.

Ping.

Ping.

Ping.

Do we have a spammer in the house?

And yet, the app doesn’t disappoint. Delta is to the Indian queer moment what Grindr is to the international gay scene – it’s revolutionising the LGBTQIA+ community over the country, sans the unsolicited dick pics and bare-chested torsos.

How it works:

What sets Delta apart from other dating (or ‘networking’) apps is that it can be used by the entire umbrella of the queer spectrum — which automatically makes it more woke than everything else out there (that includes you, Jack’d). It looks like we have a winner!

‘Would I want to meet and date amazing singles from the community?’ it asks me. Well, as an ‘amazing single’ from the community, I’d really like to. The interface (which was a lot choppier in the beta version) is easy to use — just like my range of emotions.

Profiles pop up one after the other, names fully hidden (a step up from Hinge) and a compatibility quiz waiting to find you your future plus one. There are 16 questions in all, but as long as I am not the one being played, I really don’t mind answering any of them (unlike my Class 11 Advanced Physics quiz, where every question was a player).

Each profile comes with a trust score — men (and women) are verified by their phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook statuses and even a selfie (because hello, 2018) — the higher your score, the more the number of sparks that get credited into your account. These are what you send to each other to match and (ultimately) unlock names, and other such trivial details.

Are we done yet? Because I am ready to start dating. I send sparks to a few boys who look interesting. And I hope for a few (read: at least one) on the side.

And then I wait. And I wait. And I wait. I go and take their quiz again.

And then I wait some more.

The app draws a blank, just like I did in my high school Physics paper.

What I like about it:

Delta’s compatibility feature is a breath of fresh air — pairing people based on common interests, and things that actually matter (unlike Scruff’s Match tool) — such as their expectations from a long-term partner and their views on a long-distance relationship, rather than their preferences in bed.

It’s an app that really tries hard to make a difference (with much emphasis on the ‘trying’), but fails only because of one crucial kink in the plan — people lie on their compatibility tests just like they like on their LinkedIn resumes — so that attractive surgeon who thinks that jealousy has no place in a loving relationship? Chances are he’s already blacklisted all your exes.

And he’s probably going to blacklist you too.

What I don’t like about it:

Like all the boys I’ve ever dated, Delta is perfect on paper. An app that redefines inclusion? Hell, yes. A calendar that’s packed with LGBTQIA+ events and inclusive-brands? Swipe out those debit cards. Most importantly, a secure space for the queer community? Sign me up, please.

But like all the boys I’ve dated, Delta has one major problem — it hasn’t made up its mind on what it wants to be. It ends us looking confused, trying to find itself in a world full of labels. Is Delta a dating app? Is it a networking platform? Is it a matchmaking service? Is it a brand-listing device?  Is it a discussion forum? Is it a helpline? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Sadly, it’s no Superman.

Bonus Feature:

The app’s Instagram feed gives me a boner — it’s inspiring, inquisitive and invigorating — just like I want my men to be. Here’s a giant shout to their social media rep, who not only needs a raise, but also my phone number.

Who is it for:

If you are really tired of all the apps I (tirelessly) reviewed over the past nine+ weeks, then you should swing the doors wide open for Delta. It’ll probably show up in a tux, bearing a box of chocolates and a bouquet of red roses (or tulips, if you like them). It’ll make sure it talks about all the right things, and woos you with all the right words.

And most importantly, it won’t even make a big deal if you don’t put out at the end of the date (side note: but it’s totally your choice if you want to).

Guysexual’s Grade-o-meter:

Hookability: 6/10

Compatibility: 9/10

Usability: 7/10

Downloadability: 7/10