‘Being gay in India is akin to being gay in the U.S. in the 1950s’

SOUNDBITES — “For urban, middle-class homosexuals, being gay in India is akin to being gay in the U.S. in the 1950s. The condition of homosexuals in small towns and rural India is far worse. Most gays in India remain in the closet for cultural and social reasons, irrespective of the law; many still feel that the Delhi court’s ruling will not really impact their day-to-day lives as long as social stigmas remain. I don’t know the non-pejorative word for homosexual in Hindi, but “gandu”–the equivalent of bugger–and the word “homo” are routinely used colloquially as put downs and abuse. Many families have “the gay uncle” who “nobody talks about,” a semi-visible personage in the family pantheon. This “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of blindness has only further emasculated the image of the gay person by making him invisible. It is not surprising that the law has remained untouched all these years after independence, undisturbed by any political will, cocooned by a culture that turned a blind eye.” —Roy Sinai on the state of being gay in India