Shows    »   Married in Public, Gay in Private
NDTV
Married Gay Men and their social implications
Ashok Row Kavi
Thursday, August 13, 2009, (New Delhi)
Married Gay Men and their social implicationsOne of the most common problems I've faced as a community counselor is of married gay men and their issues. I still remember a young married man who wished to know how to "balance" his life with a wife at home and a male lover in the army, of all things. The issues got sticky as the army lover wanted to come and meet him at home now knowing that along with the parents he would end up meeting his "stepwife" (suatan in Hindi).

In a very forgettable instance, I remember a young man planning to marry a woman knowing full well that he would not meet his conjugal obligations. The idea behind the marriage was to grab an apartment offered by his employer at a throwaway prize for only their married employees. The plan was to divorce the hapless woman after a year and get in his gay lover to live-in an ever-so-happy pink future. When I pointed out that a divorce might mean the wife getting the apartment besodes alimony payments, he asked me about pre-nuptial contracts. When I said they were illegal everywhere in the Union of India except in Goa, he huffed out of the office and never returned, till eight years after he walked in a bitter man very sick with AIDS related complications.

The sad stories are still continuing and seem to provide an endless drama of sorrow and tragedy. My community based group, the Humsafar Trust, does what are called "tracking interventions" every 18 months. These are structured questionnaires which are answered by random men in sex sites through what are called "time-location- clustering", a social marketing techniques to get some credible information about any population.

What came about was startling. Around 50 to 55 per cent of men-who-had-sex-with-men (MSM) were mostly also having sex with women, Of these around 25 to 30 per cent were heterosexually married to women. Besides, all these bisexual men were having two female partners on an average every month and on an average these men were also having sex with between 5 and 7 male partners a month. In other words, there was a huge bridge MSM population that was having sex with both men and women.

Now just suppose that the HIV or STI prevalence among exclusive gay men was a high 20 per cent. This "high pressure zone" was the tank from which HIV and STIs "flowed across the bridge of bisexual men into the female population. That being the case, the government's HIV prevention programs had to be made more integrated by asking MSM to use condoms with both men and women. Besides, the female partners, the wives of MSM also had to be treated for STIs to prevent what was called "the ping pong effect".

In this, if the man alone went for treatment without getting his wife also treated, she might re-infect him even if he did not have sex outside marriage with men or women. The NACO's programs in Phase III of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP III) finally got on board the wives and female partners of MSM. However, it is the social implications of gay men married to women that will become more obvious as the days go by.

Men get married not only to reproduce and have stable social relationships but also for inheritance and familial stability. I many joint and extended families, young men do not get powers of attorneys in family business' till they are married and become "responsible house-holders". The imperative to marry is sometimes greater on men than women despite the fact that a single woman is more stigmatized than a bachelor.

However, as Section 377 is read down and society "unravels" into liberal globalised economies, things will rapidly change. It is not un-common to see parents now groping with young men who bring him their foreign male spouses to introduce them to parents. Also men living as "single" gay men in other cities cities also feel they have more space to have relations with both sexes without being hauled over to be forced into "arranged marriages".

Whatever it may be, the future will be fraught with a lot more social heartbreak, need or counseling and "upstream marriage services" before the dust settles after the re-interpretation of Section 377. The main goal though should be a mentally and physically healthier society, never mind the ranting and raving of the loony Right wing forces..
VIEWPOINTS
'Social pressures force dual lives'
'Social pressures force dual lives'
Manvendra Singh Gohil
Sometimes, what becomes more important even after full realization of ones sexuality, is to keep up appearances in front of the extended family....
   

Married gay men & their social implications
Married gay men & their social implications
Ashok Row Kavi
I still remember a young married man who wished to know how to "balance" his life with a wife at home and a male lover in the army...
   

Men who have sex with men and marriage
Men who have sex with men and marriage
Shivananda Khan OBE
In India, marriage is a central issue within people's lives, where it is the mainstay of family and/or community life...
LIVE CHAT
ADVERTISEMENT
SEND US YOUR THOUGHTS
Name *
E-mail *
City *
Your Comments *
Read surfer comments
 
Surfers Say
Posted by ajit on Monday, August 24, 2009 , bellary,karnataka
moreover, if at all u can imagine ur childern doing what ur doing or about to do, i bet u, u'll never dare to. anyhoe it their lives, whether they make it the best or the worst it their wish & will.
Posted by ajit on Monday, August 24, 2009 , bellary,karnataka
sex is a personal life of a person. nor government or the public in generel has any right to speak of it. i believe god has given that devine power to man to help lives to continue their race, it is our follineshness that we r taking it in a entirely different route. if at all men begin to see pleasure in having sex with men, can u imagine what will happen to the generations to come
Posted by Praful Baweja on Monday, August 24, 2009 , Mumbai
If everyone was a clone of each other, the world would be boring as hell. Diversity even sexual diversity exists and denying it would be foolish. Also Indian social system has always been painfully slow in acceptance but then very vocal about the support that they provide to what they perceive to be correct. Accepting jeans as an attire for women took forever... so here we are talking alternative lifestyle not even alternative clothing. Personal preference of individuals is often sidelined even forcefully. Indian parents are either unaware of their son's preferences or they overlook it for social confirmation and get their gay off springs married.

The irony is both parties in this arrangement feel victimised - man as well as woman and the hurt could easily be avoided by spreading awareness.As posted by S, I have come across the women who realise that more than their husband's will to ruin their lives, their wedding was an attempt to run away from the much feared Gay tag.
Violent crimes are not new to gay community. We have always been at receiving end for being different. I am not asking for sympathy here but just suggesting that awareness of homosexuality and sensitivity to other person's individual choices is what we need to spread in society through media and one on one dialogues. 377 has taken homosexuality as a topic out of taboo or vulgar category. Now as an gay activist, its my unde an extent due to decriminalisation to stop such instances. Lets be a more tolerant , more humane society
Posted by vijay on Sunday, August 23, 2009 , Chennai
Thanks to NDTV for creating awareness among people.

In INDIA, most of the people have negative opinion about sex. Many even hesitate to pronounce the word "SEX" . Lot of youngsters are getting mentally self-harassed due to lack of awareness.Sex is part of the life which is given by nature.It is very essential to create sexual awareness among our people. I feel that the parents or family members should discuss about sex without hesitation. Everyone should understand because of that SEX we are here in this world and nothing wrong about that.
Posted by Mohan George on Sunday, August 23, 2009 , Mumbai
80% of married men have sexual relation with men, before and after marriage.
Posted by aman on Sunday, August 23, 2009 , San Francisco
I completely understand the sentiments of the lady who has been in a marriage with a gay man.

I am a gay man, single and (thankfully) happily out to my family living in India.

It is very sad that this happens. The woman ends up suffering for no fault of hers. More needs to be done to assist women who find themselves in such situations.

I understand that it is hard for a gay man to come out. There are social pressures around. But that does not justify a marriage with a woman just to escape the society.
Posted by Raj on Sunday, August 23, 2009 , US
This MSM you talk of happens in Bollywood too. Actors have to appear masculine and normal to be big stars and so they also hide behind these type of marriages or even just 'big romances with famous actresses' and must be their true selves only to a very few people. Looks at our stars today and you will see some who fit this all too well.
Posted by k on Saturday, August 22, 2009 , kanpur
I think a lot more men -- young and teenagers and mid aged-- are not gay but bisexual. As teenagers they have msm relations with friends but also simultaneously have great interest in girls.
They get married the Indian way or even "love marriage" but they continue to have msm relations as young men and later as middleaged and even older. All this time they take care of their family and also continue to have proper relations with their wife and even other women. They take good care of the family.
So, it more of males being bisexual and I would guess it is a very high proportion of males who are in such bisexual relationships. Such men are considered normal since all msm activity is hidden and clandestine.
Posted by Daniyal on Saturday, August 22, 2009 , Dubai
How long will gay men have to hide behind women? How long will women have to suffer marriage with men who are not attracted to them - especially when there is an outrageous gender imbalance in India in favor of the male sex? How many children's minds and lives must be destroyed by their parents' disagreeing voices before someone stops this madness?

We are a forward-moving nation (I hope). These so-called society "values" that force us to marry women when we are attracted to men, force us to have children when our country is already overpopulated and inflict psychosocial pain on more than one person in each case - these "values" need to be uprooted if we want our nation to continue moving forward.

Surely if we can imitate the West from our method of government, to the way we defend our country down to the way that we like to be entertained - surely we can also bring in a little bit of common sense from the West and
support our homosexual/gay/MSM citizens instead of cornering them into marriage with the opposite sex.

I urge all gay men and women in the subcontinent to resist family pressure to marry a member of the opposite sex and have children with them. The conservative older generation will die out pretty quickly, whereas a generation of scarred gay men/women, their spouses and children will live on for a lot longer with consequences.
Posted by n on Saturday, August 22, 2009 , Hydrabad
Are there any legal consultants who can help such women to come out of such relationships.

NDTV
UPDATES
WITH