'Desi' gay man (I've been told I'm no longer a boy, sigh!) in the American Midwest, still not used to being away from frenetic Bombay (hate calling it 'Mumbai'!), but here I am.
Schizophrenic, beware. Closetalk = Confessions, Confusion, Connotations, Conundrums, ...
..... instead, I'm preoccupied with Irish Coffee and wondering whether he's ok (...he's obviously not!) and what I can do for him to help him along... A rational voice inside me says there's really nothing there for me to do. It's his baggage - whatever it is - and he will take his own time to get over this... situation. But the part that is unrespitilingly whiny me keeps hoping/thinking/wishing/wanting to do something... he has to know I love him, doesn't he? He seemed so fine on Monday, when he left, tooting his car-horn after me... and then, when I finally saw him on Friday, he told me he was alright now and he'd be fine... I guess that wasn't true, though. I don't know what to guess, really. All of it seems so... strange to me. Why do people get tired... why do they get depressed? It seems so idiotic of me to admit that I don't know... The other day, someone told me that people should learn from me how to "be happy"... or does he mean blissfully ignorant...? I'm wishing I could go right up to him, put my arms around him and tell him it's alright - whatever it is - but the sane part of me tells me he needs his space. Americans are like that - it's all about space. I still don't understand that concept completely... So this is what I've done: I've set a deadline; a deadline that is (kinda) of his own suggestion...
In the meantime, what I don't understand is this: how come I get to be the whine-pot of the century, and every one else gets away scot-free???
Someone told me a couple of days back, that I was the kind of person who fell headlong into the "moment" - I did what I had to do within the situation I was in, carried forth and all that jazz, and usually did it well... and she was right, of course. I realized how right she was (is) so very acutely just now, when I leafed through face-book and saw Goa-pics one of my "boys" had posted... and I'm nowhere on the scene...
Penguin, Diamond Choker Baccha (who's soon leaving Bombay...!), Vivian, SnowWhite's Stepmother (who's smiling even!), Guppie, Helen of Troy, and some random chick... in front of the cake shop at Potpourri at Bandra... and I so miss my life.
Happy Birthday, TalkingClosets - you're now officially 3 years old... but Bombay sadly is so fcukin' far away that it breaks my heart.... :(
The other night, I watched Dolly Parton ("Backwoods Barbie"?!) perform her latest single at American Idol. Now, I'm a huge fan of Dolly, despite that weird voice, and think she'd make a simply fabulous fag-hag with that giggle and all, but seriously... Jesus and Gravity?! WTF is that all about?
Apart from the crazy song lyrics, looking closer into the general scheme of things, that's actually part of some of the things I find ridiculous about America... and by extension, gay life here. Think of this as an extension to the last post if you will, but this is something that's been on my mind for quite some time now. I suppose it's inevitable, really - living in the Midwest as I do, I was bound to come across possibly some of the most contrasting aspects of gay life in the US: a very open gay culture in university towns and cities, but also what Irish Coffee labels "The Christian Taliban". (And no, I'm not saying this just cuz I do research in my academic life about sexual scripts and gay presences online.)
To me, the entire presence about the "Christian Taliban" is symptomatic of a much deeper issue: the absolute polarization of sexuality and religion in the United States of America. For most of the people here, their faith is very important to them. That's all very well and good - but what happens when faith is vehemently opposed to anything beyond good ole procreative sex? The answer: your soul goes to hell. As simple and concise as it may be, nevertheless a far-fetched conclusion that I find ludicrous.
The other day, I wondered aloud about this in one of my graduate classes. Why does America place sex so angrily against faith? Seriously - what is the link here?! I'm not saying that everything is hunky-dory about sexuality back home in India (god knows, NO!!!), but for the life of me, I have never heard (first or second hand) anyone in India complain that he/she has been told that he/she is going to Hindu/Muslim/Christian/whatever hell because he/she is gay/lesbian/bisexual/whatever. For some reason, that's just not done. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure the really conservative elements must be all up in arms about you being "deviant", but the common protest is likely to be "O, this is against Indian Culture" (that demanded capital letters!) and not "O, you're a bad Hindi/Muslim/whatever"...
And don't tell me it's a Christian thing, cuz it's not. One of my classmates is from the Caribbean, the daughter of a Christian priest, and she chimed in with her own musings on the subject when I voiced my opinion in class. Even in her country, she argued, there was none of this weird divide between sexuality and religion.
More importantly, what does it do for the people caught in the middle? Both online and offline, there are so many stories of gay and lesbian people who scramble desperately to find a faith that will not cast stones on them for their sexuality; stories of people who try to "change" because they want the support of God and their church; so many people who have been alienated by their religion because of the venomous treatment meted out to them by its ministers; so many people who have to struggle being "good Christians" and good brothers/sisters/parents to gay people. How do any of these contradictions make sense? As an outsider, I see a weird balance here: the price I have to pay for being more 'open' about my sexuality than in my home country is a very clear condemnation that I am going to Hell - wherever/whatever that may be.
This was not meant to be a tirade against America or Americans (gay or straight) - as some people who read this might be prone to think. I'm essentially an optimist, in that I always tend to believe in the very best as far as people are concerned, and I think that some of the people I've met here are amazingly kind, friendly and helpful. And yet there's so much antagonism, distrust, and undue marginalization - and all out of completely unrealistic expectations and standards. The funny part is, the world over, GLBT movements have operated (and still do) out of the basic skeletal framework of that in the US... and yet, the first thing I realized almost in my very first week was that the US is not quite the liberal "land of the free" it's billed to be. Not for gay people. Not for anyone really who doesn't fit the "mold".
The other day, Irish Coffee told me something over the phone in a drunken slur (he's terribly cute when he's drunk - or should I say cuter?!) that struck me for the first time in any real way: "I know you're Indian, and you identify yourself more as Indian than with Americans, but after getting your PhD and all that, you're going to live here... you're going to be an American. So you might as well get used to that!"
Was I naive before, or am I naive still? I'm not sure. Suddenly, all those academic readings on diaspora etc make scary sense to me. I'm not sure what I was thinking of earlier - a good degree, a great job, back to Bombay? back to Chicago? - and I'm still not exactly sure. I'm so used to thinking of myself as a Gay Indian in the Midwest, that frankly, it's scary to think of myself as a Gay... Indian-American (there, I said it!)... or even a green card holder... Because frankly, there's a lot of stuff I don't like about gay life in the Americas... give me Bombay any day, closet and all...!