Last edited: May 01, 2004

Indian Society: Out of the Closet and on a New High

Hindustan Times, December 27, 2003 (excerpt)

By Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi—It’s been an out of the closet experience.

Indian society dealt with alternate sexuality, or at least tried to, through clichés and caution, as homosexual characters and references entered serials, music videos and even the year’s biggest blockbuster movie.

Spurred by the homosexuality debates on television and major newspapers—all lambasting the draconian and ancient law that calls same gender sexual activity criminal—popular soaps and songs picked up what they perhaps thought was the thread of political correctness.

Bustier boasting, tattoo-toting hip-hop dance girls gyrate in bejewelled composer Bappi Lahiri’s remix hit Gori Hai Kalaiyan, and fashion designer Maddy, played by Rajesh Khera in Sony TV’s Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin, is the first gay character in Indian television history.

And in Karan Johar’s mega hit Kal Ho Naa Ho, a maid thinks that the affections between characters played by Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan are definitely amorous.

“Deal with it, that’s what the media is slowly trying to sink into the audience,” said puppeteer and gay rights activist Varun Narain.

“You cannot ignore alternate sexuality, it is as normal as anything else, so it’s high time we accepted gays and lesbians and see them just as ‘normal’ as any,” he added.

The appearance of Maddy even egged a debate on why so many fashion designers were homosexuals—if the profession demanded it!

“That is, of course, absurd. Does anyone ever ask why so many heterosexuals are doctors? Does the profession demand it?” laughed couturier Rohit Bal. “It just does not connect.” . . .

[The rest is about other topics.]

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