Friday, May 1, 2009

Pune, India - Whistling in the Dark

It's time to cheer the gay identity
By: Kaumudi Gurjar via Mid-Day

Pune: R Raj Rao has authored a book titled Whistling in the Dark, which is a narrative compilation of the experience of 21 homosexuals from across Pune

Being gay is no longer a taboo, as everything about the community is coming out of the closet. Hence, there no need to hide about one's sexual preferences, says R Raj Rao, a city-based writer.

Rao has authored a book titled Whistling in the Dark, which is a narrative compilation of the experience of homosexuals. The book highlights how most of the homosexuals have been forced to hide their sexual orientation fearing backlash from the larger heterosexual society.

Sting operation

Although Rao is comfortable sharing his identity, the other men whom he had interviewed were quite hesitant to speak about their sexual preferences. "Interviewing them was like a massive sting operation, as many of them were reluctant to share their experiences. May be it's because they didn't want to speak about their private lives or maybe they didn't want to reveal the biggest secret that they had hidden since long," said Rao.

According to Rao, most of the people he had interviewed were associated with Queer Studies Centre a support group that works for the intellectual, cultural, social and political rights of gays in India. He has recorded testimonies of 20 men and one woman from all walks of life, including professors, auto rickshaw drivers, under trials and even foreigners visiting Pune.

Speaking about how he convinced them to speak for the book, he said, "I became friends with them, partied with them sand even took them to overnight jaunts and hill stations. It was then that they opened up to me."
While a majority of interviews in Rao's book appear under assumed names, there are a few people like Christopher Benninger, Ram Naidu, Hoshang Merchant and Bindumadhav Khire who readily agreed to being


Rao said, "The interviewees told me how the they were bashed up by the heterosexuals. Some even said that their wives had no inkling about their sexual orientation, while some even shared their experiences of being waylaid by the police and hoodlums who threatened to reveal their identity."

Romantic aspect

Rao added that, "Issues related to homosexuality are often hijacked by associating them with HIV. But nobody explores the romantic aspect of being gay. I have attempted to bring that element in my book."

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