Posts tagged ‘India’

Million Dollar Arm

When ‘City Of Joy’ came out, there was a lot of talk about how Hollywood showed India as a slum dump. In it’s defence, the novel on which the movie was based was about the time spent by a man from the 1st world in abject poverty in the most depraved part of an Indian city. Then came ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The name itself has ‘slum’ in it. So the western world again after a couple of decades was treated with the spectacle of India, the land of the poor. I admit, ‘rags to riches’ sells better.But ‘Million Dollar Arms’ has no excuse. When JB Bernstein who drives a porche and lives in a multi-million dollar bachelor pad in upscale LA decides to set up office in Mumbai and is ready to give away $100000 as prize money, it was in the heart of a slum. A place where it stinks of garbage, A/C breaks down, his neighbours are all below poverty line, and he even gets diarrhea from the food. Stereotype much? He even shows via Skype where he was living to his neighbour back in LA. When he finds the boys and flies back to LA, we are treated with an aerial shot of skyscrapers, freeways, fast cars ; all the grandeur and glory of United States of America. Not a good start.
But here is the deal. If a movie can rope you in (in this case a super pissed me) slowly but surely as it unfolds in spite of it’s cliches, faux pas and predictability, it has done something right. John Hamm’s journey from a man who’s idea of commitment was directly proportional to amount of $$ to be gained, to the father figure of two scared, homesick boys who’s sparkling dreams to make it big in America was getting hazy and dim by the hour, was measured, with the right dollop of emotion and humour. Unlike the baseballs, Hamm seamlessly portrays a self centered businessman and an endearing father figure/older brother. He is the highlight of the movie no doubt. His charm is almost tangible. A R Rahman’s music score blends beautifully with the flow of the movie although it’s not clear to me why he ended the movie with a south Indian song when Hamm operated out of Mumbai and the boys were from Lucknow.It’s an uplifting movie about dreams, hopes, perseverance and the realization of the impossible. And I am officially a John Hamm fan.

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A candid interview of a gay Indian “happily” married to a woman

A different culture, a different social set-up, but similar social expectations… and a gay man caught in this web and making the best he could and in his own words…”HAPPY”. A logical, practical man, who found the perfect balance, at least for the time being.

A little background of the guy…

He got married due to social and parental obligations. Has a wonderful wife and a son. Making a lot of money by working in an MNC. Three of them are happily living as a unit. As far as I could gather, he is very happy and so is everyone around him.

He has an urge to be with a man every couple of months that he needs to fulfill.

Q1. Are you happy?

A. Happiness is a very subjective term. In Indian context we feel happy when we make someone happy. My mom, wife, son and relatives are happy. This makes me happy.

Q2. Why did you get married knowing you are gay?

A.  In India either you have to be extremely strong to remain single or emotionally unattached. I was neither. My mom was alone after my father and needed company. My small sacrifice balanced the equation.

Q3. Ain’t you cheating your wife?

A. If you consider my body I am cheating, but if you consider my soul, its hers. For a few years after marriage I felt incomplete and felt like I was cheating myself, cause I never used to go out. Now whenever I feel the urge I get hold of a guy like you and satisfy my physical needs.

Q4. How long will this continue?

A. Till I want my marriage to last. My physical satisfaction has lead to my completeness in my married life. At least I am not sharing my bed with another woman who can be a threat to my wife and son.

Q5. How did you train your mind…being a total bottom?

A. It was simple. I simply made my mind like my wife. I started feeling for her and the liking started.

Q6. Don’t you feel, by going out you are putting yourself and your wife in grave danger?

A. No, I am very careful in choosing people and I make sure I use protection. It is much better than the straight guys who go to other women every fortnight.

Q7. If your wife comes to know?

A. That’s a risk associated with every man who goes out.

Mumbai Court gives green light for sex reassignment surgery

Bombay High Court gave permission to 21 years old Bidhan Barua to go through sex reassignment surgery.

Mr. Barua always felt he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. Loved wearing female clothes when he was young and as a result got reprimanded, beaten up by his family. In grade 8, he learnt about sex reassignment surgery and how much it will cost. He started doing odd jobs after school to save money for the surgery.

The incidence that solidified his resolve to go through it, is the psychiatric test that he took in Guwahati to access whether he was fit to go through the surgery and he passed.  After that he ran away from home and came to Mumbai and started living with his cousin.

He was initially supposed to get the surgery on the 17th of April but found his bank account blocked by his parents who even threatened the doctors if they went ahead with it. He had left his job in preparation for the surgery and now his bank account being blocked he was almost broke. He informed the judge that due to this he has no money to pay for a lawyer. The judge told him that if needed, the court will appoint an amicus curie to help him out.

In his petition, Bidhan ( who likes to go by the female name Swati) informed the Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of Bombay High Court and National Human Rights Commission urging them to step in and give a ruling in his favour or he will commit suicide. Further in his letters he wrote, “For the last two weeks, I am running from door to door seeking justice but the court does not have time to hear me. I do not have any money for my food, lodging. So I am finally requesting the court to pass an immediate order against my family or grant me an order for an authorised suicide.”

“I will kill myself if I do not get an order for my surgery by this evening. For my suicide, the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court will be responsible”, and he signed it.

This decision comes soon after the court last Thursday warned Bidhan from using pressure tactics and threatening to commit suicide to push his case swiftly through the court system.

Indian Government accepts Delhi High Court ruling of 2009 legalizing homosexuality

Tuesday February 28: The Indian Government declared that it will not challenge the 2009 ruling by Delhi High court decriminalizing homosexuality.

This was informed to the Supreme Court by government lawyers, which is now hearing a case filed against that ruling by religious leaders challenging it.

Homosexuality had been illegal in India since the 1860s, when a British colonial law classified it as “against the order of nature.”

The support of the Indian government for the ruling might tip the scale in favour of the LGBTQ of the supreme court ruling.

We can only hope and keeps our fingers crossed.

1st gay Flash Mob of Asia was hosted in Mumbai…Happy Pride

28th Jan is Pride in Mumbai and in celebration to that Mumbai saw its first ever gay flash mob in the at Marine Drive. Its not only Mumbai’s first but it happened to India’s and Asia’s first gay flash mob.

Mumbai has done it agian. In India people say, what Mumbai things today, rest of India thinks tomorrow. Here what the city did, the rest of Asia hasn’t thought about it yet.

This a bold effort which was a huge success and hopefully other cities will follow the example and have one of their own. At a time when Indian Health Minister proved to be how ignorant, bigoted and uneducated a person can be when it comes to LGBT issues in his country, these awarenesses are even more necessary than before.

Here’s wishing Mumbai a Happy Pride on the 28th. Hope its as huge a success as their Flash Mob.

An LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist…turned gay because of gang-rape

28 years old Sanjeev Vandse is an LGBT activist from the small town of Udipi, Karnataka, India. He fights of the rights of gays and male sex workers. He has tied up with NGOs to help these people who otherwise have been neglected by most as homosexuality is still a taboo and not discussed or a subject barely touched by the mass specially in small towns.

Sanjeev himself is HIV positive. He was gang-raped by his bosses when he came to mumbai to work for a hotel, Sanjeev claims. He further claims that incident changed his sexual orientation.

For the past 3 years he has become an sexual health advisor, mentor, almost a messiah to LGBT people in his town and around. The concern is, his belief that rape changed his sexual orientation is scientifically wrong and probably he is still trying to justify his sexuality with that excuse of being a victim. It looks like he needs councelling himself. He needs to accept who he is and not feel ashamed of it and find the need to have an excuse to justify his being gay.

If rape could change sexual orientation, then all the african lesbians who are forced to have sex with men (corrective rape) with the believe that it would turn them straight would work too. But it doesn’t. His claim could backfire. In those small towns, where most are uneducated, illiterate, such a claim would do more harm than good.

We have already seen in one family in States, father forced his 14 year old son to have sex with a hooker while he stood vigilant outside the door because he thought his son might be gay.

Sanjeev’s work to make the lives of LGBT people in his community easy,  is commendable to say the least but he needs to be councelled before its too late.

The scale tips towards Gays getting infected with HIV more than female sexworkers in India

For the longest time in India, HIV was a decease predominant among the female sex workers in India. For decades now, they have carried the stigma and faced the brunt.

Finally, latest study shows new HIV infection are more among gay men and drug users than among females. Hindustantimes issued a new article which gives the latest comparitive figures from 2000 and 2009.

There were 120,000 new HIV infection cases out of which 7.3% were gays and drug users while female sex workers were 4.94%. This data was collected in 2009. In sharp contrast to the data collected in 2000 where out of 270,000 new infection registration 11% were female sex-workers and gays accounted for only 4.3%.

According to Sayan Chatterjee, secretery in the department of AIDS control in the health ministry, the concern now is the estimated 250,000 gay men who fall in the high-risk catagory of infection. The states which were previously saw less prevelance of HIV are now the most vulnerable. States like Orissa, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bangal, UP, Rajasthan and Gujrat have more HIV positive men.

The new 5 year plan (2012-2017) would essentially focus more on this states and the LGBT population.

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