5 Realities of Being Gay in a Country Where It's Illegal
Gay people have made tremendous strides across the world in the last 20 years, but over in India, gay behavior is still punishable with prison time. Millions of Indian homosexuals struggle in silence, knowing that every hand job is technically criminal possession. We spoke to an in-the-closet Indian man to figure out just what it's like being feloniously gay. Here's what he has to deal with:
Progress Doesn't Always Stay That Way
In 1860, America was lathering itself up into a frothy Civil War, while over in India, my people were busy being ruled by the British Raj. One of the head honkies was Lord Macaulay, aka this freakin' guy:
A villain? In a cravat like that?
He's responsible for a little thing called Section 377, which made it a criminal act to have sex with a matching set of genitals. In 2009, one of India's highest courts repealed the law. The gay community cheered "Progress!" and for a while things looked to be on an upswing. Then, in 2014, our Supreme Court revisited the issue and concluded, "Wait, nope, being gay is still illegal."
This means that I am officially illegal. And not like jaywalking or pirating Game of Thrones illegal: It's a 10-year prison sentence.
So, like pirating Game of Thrones while jaywalking illegal.
I'm pretty sure you'd get less than that for manslaughter in America, if you could prove that the victim was being "a total jerk."
Corruption and Abuse Are Rampant
Corruption is a problem for the police in India, particularly New Delhi. How big a problem? In 2006, the Delhi police created a "complaint line" for messages from India's leading anti-corruption agency. They conveniently lost the password to this portal for eight freaking years. Apparently the entire staff couldn't remember their mother's maiden name, or their first pet.
"Was it Miss Fluffles or Mrs. Fluffles?"
Sometimes police corruption manifests itself in dick moves like that. Sometimes it manifests itself in other moves on dick: Officers have been known to threaten gay people with beatings or death in exchange for blow jobs. Make the mistake of showing your face at a gay pride parade and you've as good as volunteered: That's exactly what happened to a Web designer in Ahmedabad.
The cops don't know or care that there are gay people who are tops, bottoms, versatile, or something in between. They know and care even less about consent. They believe that if you're gay, it means you enjoy sucking any dick you stumble upon. And the actions of terrified people under duress seem to confirm their biases. If the choice is "Give a hopefully intentionally terrible blow job" or "Have drugs planted on you and go to prison forever," you tend toward the former.
Unwilling oral sex: It's better than prison.
Even Trained Medical Professionals Try to Yoga the Gay Away
There's a man named Baba Ramdev who claims he can cure homosexuality with yoga. It's essentially the same as one of those pray-away-the-gay camps, only it's an ashram instead of a camp, and the instructor looks like this:
Homophobic religious leaders, like McDonald's, exist everywhere on Earth.
The common belief is that there are no such things as homosexuals. There are only perverts that crave any kind of sex, and to them, a hole is a hole or a pole is a pole. Catering to this laughably misinformed belief are all sorts of snake-oil salesmen: people who sell medicines, mixtures of spices and stuff that curb or even cure such remorseless sex-fiending. And, yes, some of that exists in the United States, too.
But at least in the rest of the world, legitimate psychiatrists don't buy into that kind of crap. Not so in India. It's not uncommon to hear about doctors prescribing medicine for "depression" that's really meant to treat your inflamed case of "gay." The head of India's psychiatric society herself recommends medical treatments for homosexuality.
I'd recommend not using Macaulay Culkin as the inspiration for your hairdo.
An example of this rampant misinformation: My family is pretty well off, and I was able to attend schools with counselors for the kids. I told the counselor I had these feelings sometimes. And he was like, "Do you watch any American TV?" Back then, I used to watch wrestling, and I told him so. He said, "Stop watching that." A trained counselor thought you caught gay. From wrestling.
Then he told me to exercise and stop eating fast food. That's how you cure the wrestle-caught gay, of course. One more: In 2011, now an adult, I came out to my (pregnant) sister, and she told me that the news had shocked her so much that she'd hold me responsible if anything bad happened to her unborn child. Then she told me to stop watching Breaking Bad, because apparently they broadcast the same secret gay-waves as the WWE. My sister lives in England, by the way. That's how deeply this is ingrained: It follows you across continents.
On the other hand, they are holding those beers pretty suggestively.
You Will Still Be Forced Into a Marriage
You have to get married to someone of the opposite sex eventually; your family will force you. This happens most to gay people who are afraid to come out, and the end result is pretty predictable: Many are unable to perform on the first night of the wedding. You can stave off accusations for a while with a good cover story -- too much to drink, performance anxiety, it's Groundhog Day and the little guy is trying not to see its shadow. But eventually the wives will figure out what's really going on. Some keep quiet about it; some go back to their parents' house and tell everybody.
It happens so often, you see Cosmo-style articles like this, "Signs of a Gay Indian Husband":
They truly are a fascinating species.
I can't take the risk that my wife will ever figure out the truth. Thankfully, here in India you don't need a prescription for any drugs. You can get all the Viagra you want. So that helps. But you can't fake sex every night, even with a chemical erection. And I've been forced to do some things I'm not proud of to maintain the charade, like dosing my wife with half a sleeping pill before bed so she'll conk out before we can get much further than fumbling foreplay.
There's ... no joke for this caption. We have souls here at Cracked, just tiny ones.
I love my wife as a person, but not the way a man should love his wife. She's going to school abroad now, and I'm waiting for her to spend more time in the Western world so she gets a more modern perspective on homosexuality. Then maybe I'll tell her. She's still not down with the idea of women drinking alcohol, though. It's going to be a long, hard road.
"Coming Out" Is Not an Option
I have to pretend to be straight. When I'm home in India, I stare at girls and tell people how hot this chick or that chick is, lie about all the foreign chicks I bang. I camouflage myself in "bro" for the sake of not being murdered on the streets or sent to prison, where I'll be murdered or ... generally one does what one can to avoid horrible, horrible murder. You understand.
A popped collar can serve as a bulletproof vest.
I'm still too afraid to date. People gossip. So even if I find somebody to be with, he might not be discreet, and word could get out. I had a friend from grades seven to 11 in India, and I knew he was hitting on me all the time. I know this guy still has feelings, because his house is filled with pictures of me -- more pictures than straight male friends tend to keep of each other, which is ... none. But he says he just looks up to me as a brother. Even though he's attracted to me and I'm attracted to him, I can't say anything, because there's a little bit of doubt, and coming out to him might mean forced surgery, getting shot, or even a stint in prison.
Something to keep in mind next time you avoid asking someone out because it might be "a bit awkward."
Related Reading: Speaking of nightmarish persecution, we talked to a man who escaped North Korea. If you're interested in something a little less dark and a lot smellier, we also spoke to some garbagemen. Cracked got the scoop on what it's really like to work as a drug dealer and how bad things can get in a fundamentalist Christian cult. Have a story to share with Cracked? We're here.
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