On my way to meet him, I kept praying, “oh, please don’t let him tell me he “likes” me”. I was meeting him for the second time after 10 years and “something important” immediately set off the alarms. Nothing against him. He’s a nice guy, but to put it across without intending to be rude, “not my kind”. I was at a phase where all my friends had moved out of the city (I’m still in the same phase, I really am left with hardly 1/2 friends in the city, who don’t meet often) and I didn’t want to make it awkward between us by telling him “no”, however politely.
The moment of truth had arrived. As we left the cafe (“I will tell you after we’re done with the coffee”, he said) he asked, “How would you feel if one of your friends is gay?”
What? What did I just hear? What?
Wait, so he will never have a crush on me? Well, that’s a relief. Really? Oh god, did I just turn him gay?
Jokes apart, I replied, “Well, I don’t really know. To each his own, I guess. Who am I to judge?” These were my exact words.
“Why? Are you gay?”, I asked.
That came as a shock. No matter how much you’ve read about LGBTQ community, when someone you have grown up with tells you he’s gay, it shocks you.
It is only when Mahesh, someone I knew personally, came out did I start noticing the undercurrent of homophobia prevalent. Especially amongst the educated, internet savvy crowd, who think Neil Patrick Harris is awesome, but VJ Andy (one of the contestants on Bigg Boss, and whose sexual orientation is not known to me) is “baaylo” (derogatory Gujarati word for “feminine”).
“Why do you have such friends only? Why do you hang out with him so much? Itna kyun pasand hai usko milna? ” asked Kavita (name changed). Of course, gays do not deserve to have friends, because “woh log hote hi aise hai”. “aise kaise?” you ask? Well, I really don’t know.
And then there are the curious ones. Like the common friend with Mahesh and I, Meena (name changed) who probably hasn’t heard of internet and Google, and chooses to ask awkward questions to him, despite not having met him in last 10 years either. Only because I meet and interact with him often. Because I distinctly remember Meena being curious on “how can gays satisfy themselves sexually? kitna ganda hota hai. How can a guy kiss a guy?” Erm. Okay, then.
How do you even go about explaining things to them? And if they have such thoughts, is it even worth it to explain things? Or just let them spend the rest of their lives in blissful ignorance.
Oh, and how can I forget the quip by a male friend, who had known of Mahesh being gay, and I asked him to join Mahesh and me for a coffee that, “Why should I meet him? What if he hits on me?” Um. Okay.
And I’m not even telling about the homophobes Mahesh keeps encountering on a daily basis. From getting looked down upon by complete strangers to the parents showing horoscope to astrologers to ask what is wrong with his stars.
But Mahesh is taking it well. Which is funny, because growing up, (and I have told this to him too) that of all people, he would be the last person I would expect to stand up against the entire society and fight for himself. He always came across as a weak and meek person who would cry at the drop of the hat. Mahesh tells me, “When my dad showed the horoscope to astrologer asking for when the stars will change, I told him, ‘what is the point of asking the astrologer when I’ll stop being gay especially when the astrologer never managed to tell you before that I am gay’?” Point well made, Mahesh.
I’m not writing this post to create any sort of awareness or campaign for equal rights or anything. It is just that it pains me that people could be so insensitive. For any human being.
So when two of my male cousins were making fun of Andy for allegedly being gay, a cousin asked, “I don’t get it, why do girls like him? He’s gay.” I asked, “But then, so is Neil Patrick Harris, and you are his fan yourself.”
“But NPH is awesome. Andy is gay. Look at how he crosses his limit in Bigg Boss. And he is gay.” he tried to reason.
I didn’t argue. Not because I agreed, but because you cannot reason with people like that.
And even though I am not a fan of Andy, I still like him. He is entertaining. And most importantly, when he realises he committed a mistake, he apologises.
Most men I know don’t.
Maybe that is why girls like him. Whether or not he’s gay.