Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Dissecting the Gay Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

India is quite arguably a very androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; Indian men are fairly well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy.

It is not rare to see men walking around the city hand-in-hand or arms over their shoulders, displaying signs of very intimate affection towards each other. Once I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed to me like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation amongst themselves.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for actual gay men to figure out who’s in who’s “camp.” It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay or that someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and overt displays of intimacy.

I suppose this type of a cultural acceptance of homosocial behavior could lead to psychological burial or repression of a gay man’s proper homosexual expression. By that I mean, a gay man may not express his sexuality as much as he may express his homosociality.  The ambiguous sexual nature of the behavior he observes among the men around him may convince him that he can act likewise and be safe and find homosocial encounters as a satisfactory outlet to his gay expression. 

Since one can never be sure of the sexual intentions or persuasions of another man, it becomes incredibly risky to just assume the other’s sexual orientation and make an unsolicited or unwanted move–particularly given the paradoxical fact that while Indian men are notoriously homosocial, they are equally homophobic

At the same time, the sexual ambiguity in orientation also may lead a gay man to believe that he could effectively “convert” any straight man and convince them into being sexually intimate. While this may work for some, it also leads to disastrous consequences, such as homophobic backlashes.

Moreover, ambiguity in sexual behavior leads Indian gay men to try and seek the fulfillment of their desire to be intimate with another man in such homosocial–but non-sexual–relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men); the result of this disguised approach to homoerotic intimacy thereby represses a full-blown expression of proper gay male sexuality with other gay men. Some gay men might even end up convincing themselves of the delusion that they are not really homosexual, that they merely have strong affections for other men just like other genuinely straight men do for each other.

All of that (and possibly other socio-psychological factors) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bisexual or maybe even straight!–not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned auto-suggestion upon their own minds–undoubtedly with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they share intimate relationships contact with, like their wives or romantic partners.

23 Responses to “Dissecting the Gay Indian Male”

  1. akash said

    The article really highlights the unpredictable predicament of indian males who enjou comparatively closer ties and emotional bonds between them even with out a sticky label like “gay” or “homosexual.” I think it is a unique social phenomenon in the Indian subcontinent and it adds to the much popular phrase, “a wonder that is India”

  2. Upandhi said

    I don’t think this apparent closeness between males is uniquely Indian. In the Arab Gulf men touch their noses and make a smacking sound with their lips when they greet each other. (I’m not calling it a kiss as the lips do not touch, although they come very close–call it a virtual kiss.) In many other Asian cultures men can be found walking hand in hand. Who is to say that holding hands or lips approaching lips is not masculine, but feminine? Women in the Gulf do not “kiss” like this, so to kiss in this way is very much a masculine expression, while the feminine expression involves cheek to cheek. I see the camaraderie among Indian men expressed in the ways you mention as a very masculine thing. Similar to in the west how the hearty handshake between men and a rough pat here or there is considered masculine. I feel the element of sexuality that might or might not accompany such actions is an important consideration, but I don’t feel it is a construct of masculinity or femininity. A parent can be very physically intimate with a child but this does not normally constitute any expression of sexuality.

    I think the clues as to whether an individual is attracted to another of the same sex can still be recognized even if not based on distinct forms of physical intimacy. In fact, it is more the emotional than physical clues which one can look for. An unrelenting fixation on another, an emerging obsession, flirtatious and furtive looks, etc. Would not these be clear enough indications of another’s desires? I also believe that there is not only gay, bi and straight among the human family, but every degree in between. This is where the labels may not serve us well, whether we are referring to a Western context (in which the terms were coined) or that of any other culture. I guess my point is that there are numerous clues to pick up on to determine another’s interest in us or in others. A discussion of “masculine” and “feminine” behavior does not have much relevance. Indian men, are therefore not androgynous. They express intimacy among themselves in the culturally appropriate way for Indian man. In that sense holding hands is an expression of masculinity.

  3. Minerva said

    ok homosocial vs intimate. stop trying to make things ridiculously more complicated than they were to start with. The SUBJECT is about how to “camp” gay Indian men. In other words “will that guy that I met today have sex with me or not”. If Indian men are all touchy on themselves then how do they tell who is gay and who isnt…
    Who cares about homosocial vs intimate and the detials therein as it doesnt asnwer the original question posed which is FAR more intersting.

    • Slanted view said

      I think here it is attempted to simply help identify the complexity of the confusion that many Indian man face when it comes to their sexual orientation. I find this particular post to be very in depth and bold, it’s not about a comparison it’s about learning to identify the mixed ideas that many of us have regarding this tender issue.

  4. SB said

    We are a very adaptable race and I’m sure the Indian Gay community has its own ways of distinguishing between straight and gay men. Come on “Minerva”….can YOU tell if a woman you see is going to have SEX with you? So if straight men can’t tell, they try and try until they succeed. Why do you think Gay men would be different? Also just like America or Europe, there are GAY BARS, GAY organizations, Gay parties etc., there too. So don’t worry about them….they’ll be fine.

    Also the western civilization is obsessed with the gay phenomenon to such an extent that even simple gestures between guys is considered taboo. Relax guys! You need to be confident of your sexuality that you don’t have to do anything in a certain way to “prove” your masculinity!!

    • Christopher said

      Well put, that’s what I want to know too. Specifically, my Indian firend all but certainly knows I’m gay, yet he is still very friendly, and touchy with me. I go crazy whe he puts his hand on a bicep or looks deep into my eyes. I all but lose it if he smiles at me or winks at me in class, and if we sit together, which we often do, I can’t help but grab some quick looks at his body, his skin, his perfect, cute little ass, his seductive eyes, and his flawless smile. He is so beautiful, and I think he knows it, but has little attitude about being a “pretty boy.”

      I love his lips, so pink against strikingly white teeth. I want to kiss him so badly, but I don’t want to screw up a great friendship just because of my own urges. It’s so tormenting, he’s so hot, and I know he likes me, but does he LIKE me? I love and respect the Indian culture, but how do I know if there’s a shot at being more than just friends? I’m so into him, but it would crush me if he didn’t want to be my friend if I hit on him.

      I really need advice on this before I totally blow it with a guy whose a great friend and has done nothing wrong, aside from being drop dead gorgeous and the object of my affection.

      Thanks,
      Chris

  5. Felippe Romero said

    I have read that it was–or maybe still is–the custom among upper-class families in India to arrange marriages between their gay and lesbian offspring, for social and economic reasons, but then allowing each spouse to indulge in his or her individual sexual orientation in private. Is there any truth to this? If so, what a great custom that was!

  6. Merle Shamblin said

    Hello my name is Merle Dean Shamblin and I would like to be your new friend. I sure could use somebody to chat with. I am a 47 year old long haul truck driver who currently lives in Duncan Oklahoma. Dec 8th 1960 I was born in Fairview Oklahoma. Moved to Caddo and Washita counties where I attended school at Colony Hydro and Weatherford. My parents Malvin and Wanda Shamblin were cotton and peanut farmers. Dad died in 99 from lung cancer. Graduated from SWOSU with a business degree. My two sisters are LaDonna Hubert and Malva Burrahm. Dennis is my brother. I have been a truck driver for 14 years and have driven 2 million paid miles. I have received many safe driving awards over the years. I am single and have never been married. I have a wide range of interests and am pretty much an open book. Currently I drive a 2006 Freightliner for a major carrier. I dont go to Canada very often. I dont have a dedicated route so I run the entire lower 48. I enjoy reading cinema music sports travel etc

  7. yet_another_hindu_infidel said

    i had a friend who liked slapping my butt every time he saw me or to express his enjoyment. i never really payed attention to it but years later, it feels weird to think about it. i don’t know why he did that. he’s wasn’t gay. indian male’s definitely socialize in weird gestures. the indian cricket team members grab each others butts when they form a circle or group hugs in the middle of the field. im not sure it anyone noticed that.

  8. sagar said

    Hi i am a 24 yrs old indian man. i am GAY . i haven’t disclosed this to anyone & will never do it. i m not in any kind of relationship. though i feel an intense desire for sex with a hot man, i dont think i’ll ever be able to do that because of d kind of middleclass society i live in where such desires r abnormal. i can only fantasize about hot men & masturbate. this is d only pleasure i can have. i am a doctor, i am really worried bcz my parents wil start thinkng about my marriage after 1 or 2 yr i dnt no wat 2 do becz i cant have sex with a vman

  9. sunil said

    hi we are in same profession i want to be friends

  10. Chris said

    This is a subject that really fascinates me. I’m an “out” multi-racial guy in San Francisco (like that simplifies anything) with a very multicultural set of friends. I have only dated one out Indian guy, and we’re now just friends (and he’s in India now anyway) but recently made a new friend I really like. He is beautiful, funny, sensitive and respectful, but he can be very affectionate. I don’t want to screw up my friendship with him by hitting on him if he’s not gay, but I have a feeling he might be. I was vaguely aware of the comparatively intimate way str8 Indian guys can be with each other, and that just adds to my confusion. The thing is, he knows that I’m gay, and I want to think that he wouldn’t touch me so affectionately if he weren’t into me as well. Any advice?

    • Reva said

      Don’t “make a move” if you aren’t sure – just ask him. Talking is always a good idea. He clearly won’t be repulsed, judging by his knowledge of your sexuality.

  11. Hey said

    Hey Chris. I know how you feel. I also have sexual feelings for my best friend, who is Indian. He’s the only person I have told about my gay feelings. He knows how much I really want to have sex with him, yet he continues to touch me really intimately, probably not knowing what it does to me.

    I dont think you should pay much attention to the way he touches you, as you’re probably thinking about it too much. My friend even allows me to put my hand in his lap, or play with his stomach, but if I get too close to touching his penis he pulls away. I love him very much, as a friend, and I will never do anything to jeopardize our friendship. So my advice to you is to not make any moves to him if you value him as a friend, as you may make a really horrible mistake.

  12. briefdguy@yahoo.com said

    Very interesting, sounds like dissertation material, grant possibilities.
    On a personal note, it reminds me of my own Sicilian culture. Very “group” oriented. Girls are highly supervised while the boys are left totally to their own devices with very little supervision. Italian men hold hands in public, walk arm in arm, very common. Kissing to express emotion and in greeting is also common. None of which should ever be indicative of sexuality, ever.

    With that said,Italian men of every strata do believe it is impossible to be “gay” if you’re the pitcher, catchers are “gay”. I believe this tradition dates back 2000+ years. Draw your own conclusions.

  13. Christopher said

    @Hey That’s really messed up. My Indian budy is very flirtatious, but with eyes and lashes like that his, he looks hot without trying. I’ve never put my hands on him, except maybe a clap on the shoulder to say “well done”. I don’t think I could stand having my hands on his stomach, so close to the candy. He’s got a slender build and is maybe 165 cm tall, so I’m guessing he’s not huge, but I don’t care about his size. I enjoy being with him, like his sense of humor, and I swoon when he smiles at me. As much as I want to return his attention, I have a feeling he wouldn’t like it if I put my hands on him in the same places he sometimes touches me (no genital contact, but once his hand lingereed on the small of my back, under my shirt… and I loved every second of it). I’m just letting it go, since there are a few other really cute guys on campus who seem into more than just flirting. Thanks for yr advice!

  14. Indian gay guy said

    Frankly speaking, I actually believe in gay masculine eternal love. I’m a cis-gendered gay male.

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    Dissecting the Gay Indian Male « Leitmotif…

  17. Zion said

    I am Indian..my friends & i..we hug each other(in private as well as public)..we kiss on the cheek while greeting..we slap each other’s ass(even in public)..we put our hands around each other’s shoulders..sometimes we hold hands..we even say “i love you ” face to face and even on phone..these are as normal and common to us as saying namaste…please do not mis-judge them as sexual..some of my friends are non indian..but they understand that its just out of love and nothing sexual..

  18. My problem exactly. I fall in love with so many men and almost convince myself they love me back — and then it turns out they are not gay. I wish I really had gaydar, if something like it actually exists.

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