03 August 2012

A Double Life

Coming out and being South Asian is not an easy path. Spending years struggling with your feelings, culture and conservative views. Having to be teased and taunted by peers, and heckled by elders or shunned by family. In the land where friendships are like relationships. Where two guys can hold hands, share dinner together, lie with each other, and express love for one another. Without many assuming their gay as we do in the west.
While India is rapidly modernizing, thousands of men still live a double life; where marriage is often used as a cover up.  LGBT communities estimate that 70% of gay men living in big cities live a double life. Maintaining a double life seems easier than before because of rapidly growing Internet access. Social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, and planet-romeo, have created a safe haven to arrange meetings without getting caught or face police harassment.  Married men say it safer dating other married men because they are more sympathetic and know how to be discreet. Married gay men act as family man by day, and gay man at night or whenever they can get away.
Even after some come out to their parents, they still force marriage on them regardless of the child's happiness and even their lives. Parents come up with schemes to force their son to marry, forcing them to lie about there orientation  to their preoperative in laws and turn a blind eye to extramarital affairs. The brides emotions or future is of no consequence in the deal. If by chance the wife finds out about her husbands other life. They tend to not leave, due to parental and social pressures to stay married. They endure a loveless coexistence marriage instead of a intimate union. Wives who never find out or live in denial are at higher risk for contracting diseases. Often men feel that once their spouse has children, there duty as a husband is fulfilled.

Meet Arun, a 34- year old engineer, who was engaged to be married. He recalls a date he had recently where the man brought him home; and was shocked to see his wife was also there. Appalled by the deception filled life, Arun canceled his wedding and left India for a few years. The somber bride was humiliated and left the town she grew up in.  Even when Arun returned to India his parents consulted doctors, spiritual gurus, and mystic healers. Eventually vowed to not pressure him to marry, but he still felt the pressure to be the custodian of the family. ¹
Gay married men is not just a problem for India, of the South Asian community. Also it is not easy to come out of the closet and live a normal gay life. Due to the colossal psyche of 1.2 billion watching mainstream cinema that reinforce the stereotype that gay men are effeminate. There is also the pressure that men are the custodian of family honor who must carry on the family name. Although India and the south Asian communities are changing, being gay is still considered taboo among elders. Parents still pressure their sons to marry and to have grand children even though they come out. Some try to put off marriage as long as they can or until the run out of reasons not to marry. Many would rather marry then to have rumors that they are impotent. Others leave India to start a better life where they can live openly gay. Coming from a mixed south Asian guy living in the states were we are fighting for gay marriage and equal rights. It is hard to fathom being forced to marry someone let alone a woman. After hearing stories of friends being married off I feel a great sadness that they are not able to live their life freely. I also feel sad for the wife being married to man who can not love them the way they want. Although their husbands are great providers there marriage becomes more a roommate situation. Tell me how you feel about gay men who live a double life? What do you think needs to change culturally so gay men do not have to married of to please their family? Thanks for reading! ¹[Shadma,B(2012, April 19) Gay Indian Men Speak Out on Forced Marriages http://www.huffingtonpost.com/betwa-sharma/gay-indian-men-speak-out-_1_b_1433425.html]
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