Gay teway to freedom

By  , Midday
Feb 04, 2011

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Same sex love turned the mating dynamic on its head and it is now finding expression in not so private ways


In recent times, the so-called love that dared not speak its name has become a mainstay of both the conscientious and the sensational kind of reportage.


Every aspect of this 'novel' kind of modern coupling is being prised open to reveal hidden truths that people of an insular kind still find stupefying and strange. But it isn't as if gay people have only just learnt to love, these stories have played themselves out for eons. Nobody noticed any of it.


In India, people talk of repression all the time. They talk of persecution. But love is that thing. It grabs you, and empowers you to snatch what you suddenly feel entitled to purely because of this feeling that you cannot even describe or explain.


Living in the closet may have made gay people better able to hide, more astute in covering their tracks, proficient in finding alibis for unexplained absences, but it never made them not able to love. For some people, the new openness means a new kind of breathing space that just wasn't there before, even if it means purchasing those 'boyfriend-boyfriend' cards from Archies, taking part as slightly-less-than-equal players in the gigantic marketing blitzkrieg that Valentine's Day has become.


You can now spout lines from handbooks of love, follow the rules of cookie-cutter romantic expression. Cards, stuffed toys, bling and sweets, and even 15 minutes of fame on reality television. You can now attract attention to your love, proclaim it out loud, whatever floats your boat. Yes, it does turn what used to be a peculiar kind of mating dynamic on its head.


In the times of repression, the language of love relied upon little things. Stolen glances spoke volumes, if platitudes of feelings had measure, an inch would have sufficed. You could stare at each other's eyes for hours on end, as long as the line of sight was jealously guarded. You built your life through your most private moments, not your most public ones. There remain few written accounts, just personal memories fuelled by the adrenaline that had become an implicit part of the rituals of underground courtship.


There was danger of course, many lives have been lost to conformity, and many to the breaking of rules. But some of those who played the game, found the right grammar, the right overtures. You embraced a kind of diversity that you were only just finding out about... the rules of engagement were propagated word-of-mouth.


Not quite the stuff of party anecdotes, but still springing upon you like from an album of vintage photos.


We can be disheartened by the loneliness of the past sometimes, but we cannot deny that we learnt about ourselves through love, through romances that were as torrid and passionate as any other.


In some countries you could have been stoned to death, in India, we did it anyway. The hope of tomorrow kept us going, and it seems that, that time has now arrived.



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