Khullam Khulla #5: Connect to the LGBTQ Community

Khullam Khulla #5: Connect to the LGBTQ Community

We’re back with our series where we offer practical advice about sex and relationships to supplement remarks from famous sexpert Dr. Mahinder Watsa. For this entry, we address a month-old question that still awaits the doctor’s answer.

Q: I knew at 14 that I am gay. Now I am 19, and gay sex is banned in India. Since then I am really feeling that I should become straight, but my penis never gets aroused for ladies. If I marry, I will lovingly take care of my wife forever, but I don’t know if I try to become straight from now, will I be able to perform intercourse with her?????? Please help. Soon my parents will start forcing me for marriage. If I try to masturbate for women from now, will I be able to perform straight sex in future?

Reading your story breaks my heart for lots of reasons—that you so desperately want to change your sexual orientation; that we live in a country that has legislation actively discriminating against homosexuality; and that you might be pressured to marry a partner with whom you won’t be sexually compatible. It’s heartbreaking because while it’s totally understandable that you would try to change your sexual orientation (your life might be easier; you would feel more accepted by friends and family), the difficult fact is that you cannot change it. You’re definitely not alone in trying, though. Lots of people have thought conversion therapy could work, including very forward-thinking sex positive researchers. However, today there’s strong evidence showing such therapy is ill-founded and misguided, and in fact, evidence previously proving that conversion therapy works has been disavowed.

LGBTQ community in mumbai - pride march 2014

Mumbai Pride March 2014. Photo via Gaylaxy.

Yes, it’s a fact that we live in a country that crimininalises homosexuality, but that isn’t reason to be ashamed of who you are. That our society and culture don’t yet know how to accept homosexuality doesn’t make it wrong.

Moving forward, here are a few action plans to consider.

When/if your parents pressure marriage, you can go forward with it knowing that no matter how much you care for your opposite-sex partner, or how strong your intellectual and emotional connection, neither of you will be able to give the other sexual satisfaction. You were born with a certain sexuality, and you can’t change that—no matter how often you try to masturbate to heterosexual fantasies. Intimacy, including sex, is an incredibly important cornerstone of any marriage, and relationships with people who aren’t getting their fullest satisfaction breed resentment. An important step would be to respect and honor this potential partner by being honest about your preferences and needs from the start.

Alternatively, instead of accepting a less-than-ideal marriage in silence, you can try to talk to your family and friends about your sexual orientation. This move is highly risky and certainly doesn’t guarantee positive outcomes. It’s possible some of your loved ones will ostracize you. But difficult as that conversation will be, it’s a step in the right direction towards being honest and accepting of who you are.

Whether or not you choose to be honest with your family, one way you can learn to navigate life as a gay man is by connecting to the LGBTQ community in Mumbai—a world that often might be forced to live in the closet as the government wishes, but also one that is very much alive and welcoming.

The Humsafar Trust is a great place to connect with others who have struggled with coming out; the organization was founded in 1994 and runs several important initiatives, including a helpline (+91 22 2667 3800) you can call for guidance and information about sexual health. Gay Bombay has created a safe community to meet like-minded, supportive, gay men in Mumbai, and also offers opportunities to participate in and/or organize offline events. Gaysi Family is a well-established online community for sharing personal stories about the gaysi experience. The website is filled with anything and everything related to queer life in India—coming out stories, art, book reviews, opinion pieces, poetry, upcoming events, and more. Gaysi also hosts the Dirty Talk series, an evening of open mic performances by the LGBTQ community in Mumbai. Dirty Talk’s 7th edition is coming up soon: 13 September 2014, at The Barking Deer Brewpub, Lower Parel (W).

In the map below, we’ve gathered several other LGBTQ support and resource centers in Mumbai. (Readers, if you’re familiar with other resources we should add to this map, please send your recommendations.)

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