Sunday, March 9, 2014

I will be yours

I will be yours only if
you puncture my iris with the needle of a drawing pin.
I will sing to you only if
you can further shred the layers on my skin.
I will dance with you only if
you later tear away my veins.
So come let’s sing, and dance, and make love,
like we’ve never done before.
I will soar like a spirit
and blissfully shimmer the laughter of the light.

I could die a million-million deaths!

I could die a million-million deaths!
But pray I make it through this life.
Virginia and Vincent, river and starry night,
If only sanity didn’t make us insane.
Ancy and Mudasir, pebble and air,
If only we could love yet again.
We tread around like wraiths,
Conquering death and humming our light.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Break up

Like gooey semen flowing through the mouth of a hairy anus, I would like to spew you out from the inner folds of my memory. And yet, due to its viscosity, it sticks and swims around, before I’m aware of it.
The memories, vile and sulphurous, the lies, abject and camouflaged, and the deceit, deep and murderous.
Their rustiness corrodes the innards of my chest, and the tangible pain beats its own life. That nail lodged in my chest makes me want to wrench it out.
Like Prometheus, I sense the creature gnawing at my entrails, tearing my live nerves, only to begin all over again.

Each morn I howl in rage and get up with a cataclysmic shudder.

And the ordinariness of this everydayness, the quantum of sleep absorbed, yet draining.
The night that rapes me of every yesterday. The dreams that unleash the insanity of meaning. The wakefulness that begins in sediments of a life, now broken. The present bereft of its immediate future.

The tiles against my skin affirm a life within.
Swallowing double-edged blades invigorates the unwilling will.
The redness of blood and the wonder of life.
The nudity of the self and the absurdity of everything.
The experience of death and the fullness of the void.
The inability to comprehend and the futility of the word.
The magnanimity in pain and the will to live.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Pope of Hope? Perhaps!

A lot of brouhaha has been made of the recent election of Pope Francis. There has been a stream of emails celebrating and lauding the fact that he is the first non-European and the first Jesuit. While these little tidbits of information are a cause of celebration for the Church, I believe we should focus our attention on the hard facts of what really affects the Church today and what role Pope Francis will play in opening the Church for the spirit of love and change to sweep into it.

(Image Taken: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)
Honestly, regarding the choice of cardinals for the pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) was far from inspiring. With a history of vocally opposing same-sex marriage and gay adoption, and stigmatizing the “love” between people, he ought not to even have been in a position of authority. Such an act is an abuse of power and an injustice. The demeaning actions of those in authority have wide reaching repercussions, especially when preached from the pulpit.

The church equates homosexuality with sin, which goads innocent people with guilt, shame, depression, self-loathing and often suicidal tendencies. For each vocal condemnation of homosexuality there are forty times as many acts of violence inflicted upon homosexual and transsexual people in different parts of the world. The sanction for these acts inevitably stems from religious intolerance for queer people. The tumult and ostracism not only cripples queer individuals, but also their families and their close friends. How can an organization which claims to be built on the foundation of love be so violent towards its own people? How long will the Church wield its power through a dynamics of shame and guilt, rather than love? Would the Church ever accept the onus of violence it inflicts through its intolerance for queer people?

In an interview just before his death, the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a man of dialogue and a good listener, stated that questions about sexuality and the human body “are important questions for everyone and sometimes they seem even too important. We have to ask ourselves if people are still listening to the advice of the Church regarding sexuality. Is the Church still an authoritative point of reference in this field or is it just a caricature in the media?” In order to rouse the Church which “is 200 years behind the times” he suggests that the Pope and the bishops choose“12 unconventional people to take on leadership roles.” I pray that these twelve people would in honesty and humility have a warm and open dialogue with those whom it considers its sexual outcasts: its own homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, divorced men and women, and also its closeted priests and nuns. 

Fortunately the spirit of love has already begun to stir within the Church. At least there is a glimmer of hope. Though this is an episode in New York at the McQuaid Jesuit High School, the decision taken by Father Edward Salmon S.J. has takeaways for all of us anywhere. When it had been rumoured that two gay students would not be allowed to go on a prom together, an online petition had been formed supporting them. Father Edward Salmon wrote a letter to “to open up a horizon of hope, to let a ray of light break through heavy clouds” in the McQuaid family stating that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” and permitted the two boys to attend the prom. Such deeds show exemplary courage by leaders who strive to build communities of love. We can only hope that we witness many more such instances of goodwill and love. Perhaps the Holy Catholic Church needs time to evolve on its position regarding homosexuality. We can only pray and hope that Pope Francis’ papacy would evolve on its position on homosexuality.  

While many readers would like to assume that such changes are happening in the US and Europe, and wonder how it affects places like India, it is imperative that they are aware that those who tread in silence on the horizons of their society are now beginning to voice their understanding of themselves and their rights. In societies like ours, thousands languish in needless guilt and acute self-loathing. Hopefully in honesty and love, those who have been contemplating suicide because of their difference, would stop themselves and the thousands who have been silently suffering would not. Moreover, those queer people who are forced into marriages against their choice would not do so. If the church has to play a meaningful role in improving people's lives, it has to embrace the complexities and challenges in integrating their sexual and spiritual lives. Rather than shutting its doors on people, it ought to invite its outcastes to share at the banquet of the Lord. The living examples of the Holy family are those individuals who live in love, despite the opposition and tumult in their life.


Martini, Carlo Maria. “The Final Interview.” TheTablet. 8th September, 2012.

Amey,Ben. “McQuaid Juniors Allowed to go to Ball Together.”{%2210151322095250872%22%3A119349794922757}&action_type_map={%2210151322095250872%22%3A%22og.likes%22}&action_ref_map=[]

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why I walk the Queer Pride each year

This piece first appeared in The Alternative on November 23rd, in the event of the Banglore Queer Pride, 2012.

Pic by Amar Mitra
When I think of a pride walk I’m reminded of throngs of people oozing with excitement; myriad bright colours flashing in celebration; decibels of affirmation chanting a tune; the warm smell of hard work and above all the electricity racing through almost every person radiating the sheen of a collectively individual pride.  The very thought of walking through a street, along with a group of individuals with banners affirming Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer, Hijra, Kothi identity sends a trail of goose bumps coursing through my limbs. 

Whenever we discuss about pride celebrations, I’m often asked why queer people have to wear their sexuality on their sleeves, very literally on their clothes or bodies. There are some, most of whom are queer themselves, who dismiss pride celebrations as something unnecessary or an attention grabbing stunt. The pride is an acknowledgement that our lives are lived differently; there isn’t a single magic marriage or love formula that fits all. For most people, a religious identity, class or caste identity is something that we’ve been clothed with at about the same moment the first piece of cloth covers the nakedness of our bodies. Yet that’s not the case with our sexual identities. Our sexuality evolves as we grow as individuals. Our sexuality is our capacity of warmth, desire, pleasure, vulnerability and erotic possibilities. Its relational nature of ourselves with others leaves it open to understanding and interpretation. 

For those of us who affirm and assert a different gender and sexuality, contrary to the ones our families or society has ascribed for us, it takes a lot of grit to takes one’s stand. There are a number who suffocate in the silence of their own tight-lipped closets for years, if not their entire life. Hiding the truth about oneself and pretending to be what one is not is akin to a flower that has bloomed, when in fact it should have remained a bud forever. 

The fiercest opposition comes from our own families. Often the voices of sexual affirmation are subdued and, at times, silenced under the gaze of decency or religious decorum. And, sadly, the price that we collectively pay as a society is rather costly. Some end up marrying spouses who continue to have same sex relations after marriage, some divorce, some commit suicide, some join the religious order, some languish in silence and some sacrifice their entire happiness by marrying a partner of their parent’s choice. Little do we realize that each time we dismiss a sexually different voice in our society, we inadvertently tighten the noose around a loved one’s neck, coaxing one to either kill oneself or languish in misery. 
Pic by Amar Mitra

The pride means different things to different people. For some it’s a manifestation of rage, as much as pride. For some it’s a plea to their loved ones for acceptance, for others a defiance. For some it’s a coming to terms with themselves, for others it’s a hope that soon they’ll be able to walk without a mask. For some it’s a fellowship of bonding among people they are comfortable with, for others it’s about reaching out to others in support. And, yet for some it’s a political act of asking the government to consider their rights as citizens and end discrimination against them. Each person who walks the pride challenges another to live more authentically and freely. 

If I consider my own life and family, I find myself in a rather peculiar family.  A couple of years ago, I discovered that my dad’s elder brother was homosexual, months after his death, through his vast collection of novels that were gifted to him by an Indian Catholic priest, who would stay at my uncle’s place for a couple of  days each time he visited Bombay. When I first chanced upon this discovery, I was shocked, thrilled and angry. I was shocked by the coincidence of having a queer uncle in the family and the possibility of having inherited the ‘gay gene.’ I was angry because he took his secret to his grave and his siblings who discovered his secret only after his death, continued to keep it, by scribbling off his name on all the contentious novels. Above all, I was thrilled that through a serendipitous flow of events, I managed to possess some of those novels. What I admired about my uncle was that he chose to be a bachelor all his life. Next was my own youngest sibling, who breathed her soul into the water, depressed by the fact that she couldn’t change herself and torn by the anguish of religious guilt. It was only after her death, that I realized I had to summon the courage to affirm my own difference, the fact that I am gay. Each time I walk the pride, I walk for the dead, for those who languished with their darkest secret, for those who ended their own life, for those who were bullied, tortured, dehumanized or killed for their difference.  And, as much as I walk for them, I also walk for the living, believing that the truth is what shall set us free and hoping that all shall be well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Homosexual Pride

A few days ago I saw a fairly attractive couple, braced with infants strapped to their torsos, absorbed in shopping for infants' items in GVK mall! The only difference was they were both men. Two daddies with their two babies. Another scene on Independence Day at KBR Park in Hyderabad. A group of ten youth did the Freedom Walk with posters stuck to their T-shirts. Each poster was worded differently. “If being gay is a choice, then when did you decide to become straight?” “I’m not gay but I support gay rights because I believe in freedom of love.” “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” The sight evoked curiosity. Some read the posters, and were aghast. And some read a few words and shied away from reading further.

(Designed by Amar Mitra)
Instances, such as these, of lesbian and gay visibility are increasing by the day. And that’s something extremely refreshing and positive. Yet that does not happen in all places. There are some who take objection to that. A friend asked whether gay people have to wear their sexuality on their sleeve.

Homosexuals would not have to wear their sexuality if they were in a society where they were considered equal. I’m sure you have not seen heterosexual men and women walking in a parade, holding banners stating their heterosexual preference. They do not have to. They are not discriminated against within their families and work places because they love or are attracted to someone of the same sex. They do not have to live in insecurity of whether it is fine to share about their life with someone they consider close, out of fear of losing a relationship. They do not experience hatred or confusion or silence from their closest relatives, only because society and the state does not acknowledge and validate homosexual relationships.

The pride of being homosexual is a personal experience which manifests itself as a political act. It is a desire to be acknowledged for who one is in society. It is an invitation for others to accept them for who they are and for who they love. It is cry for wanting to have the same rights as those who love a person of the opposite sex. It is a hope that some more people would be considered equal and not be discriminated for loving another person.

This need to come out is an intrinsic act of survival. One might wonder why some homosexuals do not feel need to foreground their sexual orientation, while others do. The reasons could be various. For some the risks are very high, which would involve the loss of their loved ones, threat to financial security, or perhaps a certain kind of middle class “shame” to the family. For some others, it is the inability to live a life of suffocation where homosexual relationships are not even recognized, least of all considered a norm. While for a few others, their sexuality is visible and their personal, social and economic lives depend upon how others treat them.

Our stubbornness to acknowledge and accept homosexuality has only deteriorated heterosexual marriages. The parental expectations of their children’s marriage, the fictitious belief that the “gay phase” is transitory and the possibility of social ostracism have only led to many unhappy and torturous marriages. Often it is the most vulnerable who have to pay the price. Those who can afford it, get divorced. Most languish in their unhappy marriages. Others commit suicide. Little do we realize that every time in every conversation that we denounce homosexuality, we are unconsciously condemning someone to life of affliction.

For the moment we take great pride that we not only have those who risk themselves fighting for gay rights and but also those who live their lives quietly forging new kinds of relationships and families.