Tag Archives: Queer Rights

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

PRIDE (1)

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

Happy Endings: Myth or Miracle?

 

Gay Marriage (1)

Rohit, a business consultant from New York, met his husband when he was 24 years old. Hours into a special LGBT Holi Night at the local bar on a crisp March night, they locked eyes over a jazzy Bollywood number.

‘It felt simple, the spontaneity.’ Rohit tells me on chat. ‘Ravi asked me for dinner the very next day, and I said yes.’

How did he know it was one for the long run?

‘Immediately. I had hardly expected that I would meet someone who would understand my journey as a brown man, a gay man, and an immigrant — and here he was, someone who understood all three. We didn’t have to explain ourselves to each other, we found home.’

The proposal happened years later — over a quick Euro trip (Rohit’s first) during the summer. The question was popped over a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, in the their hotel room in the middle of Champ-Elysees. They shared half a dozen macarons after, and celebrated at a gay bar with go-go dancers all night long. It was all very fabulous.

‘What has marriage been like?’ I ask.

‘When we were getting into it, it was for very practical reasons, even though we knew that we were in it for the long haul. Marriage gave us legal guarantees of (hospital) visitations, inheritance, and partnership we wanted. People treat our relationship with greater weight and respect, now that the government sanctions it.  Also, there’s certainly a greater degree of closeness that comes with making vows — inviting 70 of your closest friends to come dance the night away — that is hard to describe. ‘

They both seem content with their lives — Ravi runs a bar in Philadelphia today, and they plan to raise puppies in a world that is both, peaceful and inclusive. It’s a wonderful plan for their future. I feel a dull ache in my chest as I type out my goodbyes, but I know it’s only the beginning.

Marriage, children and a house with a white picket fence might necessarily not be the dream for a lot of gay men anymore (I’d prefer a sea-facing studio apartment and a long distance relationship any day), but my friends, Bikram and Wren share a similar story across the Atlantic.

27-year-old Bikram is an environmental scientist based in Switzerland. Wren is a Human Rights consultant. They both the save the world, when they are not saving each other.

Their first date was a disastrous dinner at home. Bikram turns beetroot red even when he thinks about it today: ‘I word-vomited through three courses of dinner. Somewhere over the entrée, I thought I would never see him again.’

Bikram found it embarrassing. Wren found it endearing.

Two years later, they moved in together.

They decided to get married while on a walk, one wintry evening. There was no grand declaration of love. No rings in champagne glasses. No elevator ride on the Eiffel tower. No planetarium full of stars. No macarons, and definitely no go-go dancers.

It just made sense — it was one of those things that had to be done, the end of one journey, the beginning of another. They didn’t exchange conventional rings; instead they opted for toe rings at a Tam Brahm ceremony months later. Their parents cried, hugs were exchanged and a new family was made.

‘Have things changed?’ I ask. Domesticity has never been a strong suit for gay men. ‘I’ll tell you a secret,’ he says to me — his voice crackles — it’s the bane of long distance phone calls. I press the phone closer to my ear. Bad reception can be worse than a bad relationship.

‘Do you know what being in a relationship is like? (I actually don’t) Being married is no different; we just have a piece of paper now that lets us address the other as a husband.’ That sounds fair enough, but does that mean they do the crossword on Sundays?

‘We don’t need to do things together. We still lead our lives the way we used to.’ Bikram prefers trance; Wren likes his classical music. They both like chocolate ice cream.

‘Finding your happily-ever-after is not about finding someone who completes you, it’s about finding someone who lets you be. Being accepted for who you are is a powerful aphrodisiac. Do you know what I mean?’

I actually don’t. I’ve been a train wreck of bad decisions, failed relationships and boys who never text me back. But wait, there’s no jigsaw puzzle to be completed?

Only on Sundays, by the fireplace. Sometimes they even bake a cake.

I am only slightly disappointed, but both couples are still surprisingly happy. Their families accept their husbands, and speak to each other on the phone every other weekend. They shop for groceries, cook dinner, do their laundry and watch repeats of The Bachelorette on television. There’s no drama, just domestic bliss.

It’s here. Men are getting married, and society isn’t crumbling.

The cake does though, the one that they bake on Sundays. But still, they genuinely seem to enjoy their delightfully boring routines.

The thing about fairy tales is that we never know what happens after ‘Happily-Ever-After’. Stories end with grand weddings, but there’s no epilogue to tell us what happens next. Sometimes they come up with a sequel, but they skip past the settling in, and head straight to the next big bad — heroes and heroines fighting it out, rather than fighting each other. Fairy tales never have time for the every day and the ordinary. But neither do we.

It’s important not to forget that my friends also live in countries where gay men enjoy the same basic rights that other people do — the chance to make your vows, or even break them. Marriage equality abroad hasn’t just changed reality for gay men, it has also tamed romance.  It isn’t as nuanced as Disney makes it out to be, they all tell me. I’d have to agree.

While gay marriage in India might be a far away ‘fairytale’ concept (side note: But then again, being gay in India is 2017 is like being gay in Europe in the ’50s), we still have a long way to go before we reach our own versions of matrimonial mediocrity. It might take time to reach that point where we bake a cake over the weekend, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

It might take a year. It might take a decade. It might take two. Until that day, I raise a glass to all the brides and groom in the world, and know that if the day comes when I decide to get married, I’d want red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting…

…and preferably a groom who doesn’t run away before I do.

Time to be fat and fabulous: Let’s say no to gay bullying?

 

Body shaming 1x1.jpg

It’s a balmy night in 2014.

I am at an LGBT party in the suburbs with a drink in my hand and grinding couples on the side. I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s Daniel, an American expat who moved to the city almost a decade ago. I smile.

Our relationship can be summed up by ‘pokes’ and staggering witty banter on Facebook. It’s one of many dalliances I’ve had that die an early death, even before numbers can be exchanged. He squints at my face.

“You look a lot different than in your pictures; have you been drinking a lot?”

I suck in my stomach and my self-respect. Is it that last French fry that I just popped into my mouth? Is it too much alcohol? Is it too less sleep? A heavy bone structure? Just bad genes? Or simply the fact that I have my heart in my throat?

I mumble out a lame excuse and blend myself with the background. Daniel busies himself with a pretty boy by the bar, as I exit out of my guest-starring role in their soon-to-be love story. I can walk back home in shame, but this is 2014, and I don’t have a Fitbit to count the calories I will burn.

If you are a human being who wasn’t born with a set of six packs to flaunt at the beach, you’ve probably witnessed it firsthand — every gay man has either been at the receiving or serving end of body shaming (or sometimes even both) — it’s like Mean Girls but with men. Don’t believe me? Just walk into the next LGBT party.

Or simply log into Grindr.

You’ll hear a storehouse of excuses. He’s too fat. He’s too thin. He’s too skinny. He’s too chubby. He’s too square — the entire concept of the perfect body is almost as fictitious as Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidential election. (I wrote this before the results were out, sadly). While the glorification of the male body has always been an important part of gay culture, social media is partly to blame. Hiding behind Instagram edits and Snapchat filters, it only becomes easier to project the most perfect versions of ourselves. Plus, you can do this while scoping out the competition and secretly judging everyone who doesn’t look good in a tank top (Side note: I have a love-hate relationship with tank tops. I’d love to wear them, but they hate me.)

As a self-deprecating, but self-loving gay man, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done the same. Are we trained to put the more gym-toned, ripped men at the top of the pedestal, at the very height of the LGBT food chain (right next to the celebrity A-listers)?

We pump ourselves with protein supplements, count our meals by calories and sync our steps with fitness apps, while laughing at the ones who don’t. Think of it this way: Every time you do, more and more men are pushed back into oversized cardigans and Internet diets. More and more men are pushed into eating salad as an actual meal.

Let’s be honest.

It’s body shaming and we do it to each other and ourselves. It might be in the form of ribald jokes at the gym, hushed whispers at a party or drunken barbs on a date, but it still doesn’t change the fact that these are negative connotations that single-handedly target someone’s image issues.

Fawad, a business mogul, moves between London and Bombay every other month — his hectic life keeps him busy enough to not bother himself with weekly dates, but he still partakes in the occasional drink. Unlike Daniel from 2014, Fawad is a friend. A friend who told me about a date that went disastrously wrong.

“What else would you call a fat person, if you don’t call them fat? Cellulite isn’t sexy,” he scoffed. Clearly, the date in question wasn’t an Abercrombie & Fitch underwear model.

I gently push away the pizza we are sharing. Four hundred calories that’ll never help me find true love. Fawad, with his fitted shirts and angular cheekbones, on the other hand, has it all. Apart from my respect in the given situation.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” he says nonchalantly, sipping on his gin and tonic. But one wouldn’t expect men who wear fitted shirts to understand the problem in the first place.

Body shaming in the gay world is as serious as global warming — think of people’s feelings as the ozone layer. You are depleting them, and you aren’t helping the world by doing so. Want to do your bit to change the world? The next time you even think you might be body shaming a fellow gay man, just make sure you aren’t saying any one of these things:

“I feel so fat. Do I look fat today?”

“You probably shouldn’t be eating that…”

“Those pants don’t look good on you at all. What were you thinking?”

“Did you see the love handles on that one? I swear he had a muffin top…”

“‘You want to get with someone? Why don’t you just lose a little weight?”

“His ass is flatter than a plasma TV.”

“I swear he had boobs.”

“I wish I was as skinny as you, damn. I wish I was anorexic.”

“He gained so much weight after we broke up. I clearly won the relationship.”

“… At least you are not a twink!”

Let’s face it, we come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s unfair to think that we can be all cast from the same mold. Whether you are skinny and thin, big and muscular or a Venti and decaf (that’s just my coffee order), you need to know that everyone is unique in their own way — the first place to start over is your dating profile. What you say out aloud or through those 250 characters can say a lot about you. After all, when you say “No fats, no femmes” on your Grindr profile, you aren’t critiquing the kind of men you wouldn’t want to charm over dinner, you are critiquing yourself.

After all, we don’t need to pack ourselves with protein, boys, we just need to pack ourselves with positivity. And that’s something you can share over a plate of fries.

The Idiot’s Guide to Every Homophobic Question In The World

 

Idiot's guide

Would you like a scoop of double chocolate chip fudge ice cream? Do you think that Ryan Gosling is hot? Want to go shop at Zara’s end-of-season clearance sale? Should we leave behind a trust fund for you? Would you like a promotion? Want an all-expense paid vacation to Greece?

The world is full of silly questions, but there is no question sillier than an ignorant homophobic one. Don’t want to sound even mildly homophobic the next time you are talking to a friend, family member or even foe that belongs to the LGBT community?

Refrain from asking any of these 69 (no puns intended) questions out aloud:

 

  1. ‘Can I set you up with another friend – he’s the only other gay guy I know?’
  2. ‘If I kissed you one time, would I become gay too?’
  3. ‘Does it hurt knowing that you can’t have your own children?’
  4. ‘You must love Sunday brunch, don’t you?’
  5. ‘Will you get AIDS?’
  6. ‘What can two lesbians even do in bed together?’
  7. ‘…But you know I don’t mean it in a homophobic way, right?’
  8. ‘It’s Fashion Week! Shouldn’t you be more dressed up?’
  9. ‘If you were straight, would you have married me?’
  10. ‘Listen! You are gay! Will you come to Girl’s Night with us?’
  11. ‘Boys suck so much! Why can’t you be straight?’
  12. ‘Tell me! Is pink your favourite colour?’
  13. ‘Ryan Gosling is totally your dream man, isn’t he?’
  14. ‘ …how do you not know what a cocksickle is?’
  15. ‘So do you do drugs regularly?’
  16. ‘Okay, who’s your favourite member from One Direction?’
  17. ‘But how can you not know every line from Queer As Folk by heart?’
  18. ‘Dating two people at the same time isn’t a problem, right?’
  19. ‘Oh! What are your dance moves? The jazz hands?’
  20. ‘How have you not seen every episode of Sex And The City?’
  21. ‘Beer? Why are you not ordering the Cosmopolitan?’
  22. ‘Are you the man or the woman in the relationship?’
  23. ‘Yea, but that’s now how we straight people do it, is it?’
  24. ‘Have you ever seen a vagina? Want to see mine?’
  25. ‘Why is there only a Gay Pride Parade?’
  26. ‘How are you having dessert? Shouldn’t you be off sugar?’
  27. ‘As a gay man, aren’t you supposed to hate sports?’
  28. ‘OMG! Why aren’t you the queen of sass?’
  29. ‘Are you sure you can’t pull off sequined trousers?’
  30. ‘What about a sequined jacket?’
  31. ‘…Sequined shoes?’
  32. “Oh God! Now who’ll drive us? YOU?’
  33. ‘You are obviously not good with secrets, are you?’
  34. “You are a gay guy! So what’s the latest gossip? Who are we bitching about?’
  35. ‘You are in a relationship? Shouldn’t you be changing boyfriends every month?’
  36. ‘All the sex, and no worries! Being gay must be so much fun, no?’
  37. ‘Don’t you feel dirty after anal sex?’
  38. ‘ OMG! You are totally like Will, and I am like Karen from Will & Grace, right?’
  39. “Oh come on! You fantasize about married men all the time, don’t you?’
  40. ‘Listen! Will you be my gay best friend?’
  41. ‘Are you a Khloe or a Kim? No, you don’t know what I am talking about?’
  42. “But you are one of us girls now, aren’t you?’
  43. “I am not going to introduce my boyfriend to you. What if you hit on him?’
  44. ‘Oh! It’s a straight person thing, you won’t get it, will you?’
  45. ‘OMG! You’d love to come shopping with me, right?
  46. “Isn’t it great that you don’t have to pay on the date?’
  47. Have you ever cross-dressed? I am sure you have!’
  48. ‘How can you not have seen Wicked on Broadway?’
  49. ‘You’ve not even seen Funny Girl?’
  50. ‘But I can call you a fag, right?’
  51. “I can’t even call you a homo?’
  52. ‘What about queen? No? But you guys call each queen all the time!’
  53. ‘How can you be really sure that you are gay?’
  54. “Will touching my boobs make you straight?’
  55. ‘Are you going to snap your fingers at me, mister?’
  56. ‘But how can you not relate with Stanford from Sex and The City?’
  57. ‘You don’t even relate to Elijah from Girls?’
  58. ‘Definitely Kurt from Glee? No?’
  59. ‘’Have you slept with all the gay boys in the city?’
  60. ‘How are you not promiscuous?’
  61. It’s so great that your parents accepted you, no?’
  62. ‘How do you even know so much about football? Is it because the players are cute?’
  63. ‘Is section #377 even a thing?’
  64. ‘Why are you getting so worked up about Section #377? It doesn’t even recriminalize homosexuality!’
  65. ‘Why are gay people so loud, man?’
  66. ‘How do you know that you are gay if you’ve never been with a woman?’
  67. ‘Why aren’t there any pretty lesbians in this world?’
  68. ‘Do you love Ru Paul’s Drag Race or do you love Ru Paul’s Drag Race?’
  69. ‘How can you not read the Guysexual column?’

 

The Guysexual’s Guide: Every Possible Guy’s Handbook For Attending Pride

 

Pride

Today’s a special day.

Is it my birthday? Is it the day Bradley Cooper finally tells me he loves me? Is it the day I inherit a trust fund? Is it the day I find the miracle cure to obesity?

No. It gets better.

Today is Mumbai’s annual LGBT Pride parade – the city’s ninth, with more than 7000 people marching in from across the city (and the world) – it’s the day we all get to stand together for equality. Stand together for basic rights. Stand together for love, but most importantly; stand together because we make a really good-looking picture.

That includes you, straight folks. Are you a red-blooded heterosexual who doesn’t understand why he needs to walk the talk? (‘Why do I need to meet gay guys?’ the average straight bloke would guffaw in my face, ‘How will it help me?’)

Support for your LGBT friends aside, here are four selfish reasons why you need to keep those PlayStations away and walk for Pride today:

  1. We’ll motivate you to join the gym if you haven’t already.

Let me tell you a secret. We got to Cross Fit when you were still struggling with crunches – it’s no surprise that gay men are more aware of their bodies than their straight counterparts. We might come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ll still make sure we look the best version of ourselves whichever way we are packaged – we are giftwrapped with gym memberships and protein supplements.

And we also do Pilates. Forty-five minutes at Pride can do what hours of staring at fitness videos on YouTube can’t. After that, a few months of motivation is all you need to end up looking like the next big underwear model.

2. Get style advice straight from the expert!

When your idea of making a style statement is cycling through your three Zara shirts with a pair of cream khakis, you need help. I am not saying every gay man is a writer with GQ magazine, but when it comes to fashion, we have the common sense not to wear socks with our sandals. Pride walk is the fashion parade that tells you what works and what doesn’t.

Want to know what colour belt works with your Italian shoes? Do stripes really go with spots? What’s the point of wearing a bow tie? Now you know whom to turn to, oh sweet summer child, so keep your Crocs where they rightfully belong.

Back in your closets.

  1. Find a gay best friend

Carrie Bradshaw isn’t the only person who needs a gay best friend – everyone could do with one. We know the best places to get brunch, we understand how cufflinks work and we’ll honestly tell you what not to say to your girlfriend when she’s threatening to break up with you. We are the Chandler to your Joey, without the girlfriend who got in the way.

  1. And finally stop being homophobic and go!

Fashion tips and gym buddies aside, the main reason you should go walk the pride is to show your support for the LGBT community. Contrary to popular belief, the gay men who are at the parade won’t hit on you. They won’t even look at you. We have other important things to worry about – like inequality and basic rights.

Also, walking for the LGBT Pride won’t make you gay – because surprisingly, things don’t work that way. Throw those old fashioned ideas in the trash can and step out. We did it ages ago, and let me tell you that it’s very fulfilling.

Or at least most gay men did.

‘Why should I go?’ asks Jai, a flamboyant digital marketing manager who’s a year older, but eons cuter. ‘I am not an activist; plus it’s a Saturday afternoon, I’ll rather sleep in!’ he sips at his peppermint tea, handing me his almond biscotti.

Sigh. If only his sensibility matched his swagger.

If like Jai, you are one of the many gay men who don’t think it’s their calling (or place) to participate in the parade, don’t fret. I’ve got you covered too. Here are a few reasons for you to pull back those bed covers and pull up your socks just in time for the walk today:

 

  1. It gives you the same sense of belonging that a clearance sale does.

 Let’s face it – you might love your straight friends to death, but they’d never be able to relate to the bad Grindr date you had last week, the one with the man who thought it’d be okay to get his ex along.

It’s different at the parade – here, as you are surrounded by fun (read: fabulous) people who are just like you, you feel the same way you felt when you bought clothes at half price. Do you know what that lovely feeling is?

It’s the overwhelming sense of community. The feeling that you belong.

Without any dates with exes involved.

  1. It’s better than finding love on Grindr.

Sick of rummaging around the dregs of online dating, sifting through the same pool of shirtless men?

You have more chances of running into the love of your life here than you have of having a decent, fulfilling conversation on Grindr. Can you imagine the possibilities of not having your heart broken by yet another torso that asks you for ‘a dick pic?’

Well, now you can. How about you go say hi to the cute boy waving the pride flag across the road instead? You no longer need to lie to people about meeting your future boyfriend at Starbucks.

  1. A chance to dress fabulously.

Remember that multicoloured jacket you drunkenly bought online after a bitter break-up and an even bitter bottle of wine?

Now’s your chance to tear out the plastic wrapping and wear it like you own it (side note: because in this case, you actually do.) Pride’s the perfect excuse to be proud of your identity and keep the inhibitions at bay – feather boas or floral shirts, if you think you can pull it off, pull it out of your closets right now.

  1. And finally stop the internalized homophobia.

 The only people who hate gay men more than bigoted straight men are gay men themselves. The twinks hate the chubs. The bears hate the cubs. The intellectuals hate the social butterflies. The mascs hate the femmes. The models hate the geeks. The activists hate the slackers. The queens hate the discreet. And everyone hates me.

It’s finally time to end the internalized homophobia, guys, and there’s no better place to start than walk for Pride itself. What about me?

I’ll see you at the finish line.

 

 

 

 

Pssst. Did my words stir you enough to attend? Here are a few quick details for you if you plan to swing by The LGBT Pride Parade later today:

 

Where: August Kranti Maidan, grant Road, Mumbai – 4000036.

 

When: Saturday 28th January, 3 PM onwards!

Mumbai Queer Pride ’16 : Don’t Rain On My Parade!

 

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What: Queer Azaadi’s Mumbai Queer Pride 2016

When:  3:00 PM onwards, Saturday, February 6th, 2016.

Where: August Kranti Maidan, Mumbai.

Why: Because one never needs a reason to walk the Pride, and hey, what would you rather spend your saturday doing?

So let’s walk the talk, shall we?

Hello, Fabulous World!

Intro

I’ve always had a lot of questions in my head.

Is ketchup better than mustard? Did man really walk on the moon? How do you eat crème brulee? Will they ever resume Heroes? Should I really have that fourth cup of espresso? What’s eighteen times thirty-two? Are gay men any different than the straight ones? Does true love exist for either?

Like the classical gay stereotype, I might not know the right spoon to eat my crème brulee with, or what colour shirt goes with a leather jacket, but I do know that there never really is only the One. There’s a Two, a Three and a Four, and probably more. It will work out with some of them, and sometimes it will not. (Side note: white shirts work with anything.)

Sounds familiar?

It obviously does, because there really is no difference between gay and straight when it comes to love, sex or relationships – unless you have to think about who fits the bill when things are going so bad, you probably might never ever see each other again.

There’s a definite need to bust the many stereotypes that exist about gay men, and most of them need to be busted like the bell-bottom trend – do we like pink? Is Adele on loop? Are we promiscuous? Do we really lust after our best friend’s boyfriend? Not really, nope, nope and never ever, unless he’s cute and made a pass at us (but then again, never.)

It’s simply rude if you ask gay men questions like these – it’s like asking someone if they’ve ever killed someone or whether they have something stuck between their teeth. Here’s a friendly PSA: Gay men come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. If someone tells you they identify as gay, there’s no need to ask them whether they like Bradley Cooper or Brad Pitt (Cooper, any day). It’s that easy.

But even though we live in a world full of hipsters and millennials, coming out, isn’t easy. In fact, it’s far from the Hallmark movie that I make it out to be – every year, more and more people are pushed back into the closets to rot away with clothes that are too tight, cigarettes that are too damp and love notes that are long forgotten. Every day, more and more gay men are abandoned, disowned and even condemned to hell. Every day, a few more gay men hate themselves for their sexuality, and a few more men shut down these doors to their closets forever.

Blame it on Section 377 or blame it on middle class mob mentality, but it’s almost disheartening that things work this way. Coming out shouldn’t be an ordeal or a celebration; it should be a regular, everyday thing – like flossing your teeth every night, or telling your friends that you are vegan, or don’t like Taylor Swift. (We feel for you, Calvin Harris.)

That’s where the Guysexual comes in. (without any invitations, because invitations are so 2008) Think of this as your quintessential guide to the secret lives of Indian gay men – There might not be a pop culture guidebook to being a homosexual, but there is one to knowing how to behave with one. This is a list of do’s and don’ts and will’s and wont’s for every question you might have regarding the friend gay man (or men) in your neighborhood – how do you decides who plays for the bill at the end of a meal? Do we prefer beer or mimosas? What are the things you should never ever say to someone when they come out? Is it okay to call a woman a fag hag? Do we really like brunch as much as we say we do? Why are all the hot guys gay? Why is it not a good idea to instantly try setting up a new gay friend with the only other gay person that you know?

But more importantly, how about one individually decides not to make homosexuality a big deal? So don’t say ‘something is gay’. Don’t point at someone who dresses differently. Don’t snigger at the guy who doesn’t play cricket. Don’t say that you want a gay best friend because you think it’s cool. Don’t assume. Don’t presume, but most importantly, don’t bully.

Maybe sometime in the future, a month, a year or even a decade – every LGBT person in this country can enjoy the same privileges that a select few do. And maybe, just maybe, it won’t be a privilege, but simply a way of life by then.

Until then, I’d need a beer. And probably your number too.