When Gourab Ghosh took to the stage during Tuesdays University General Body Meeting (UGBM) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU),he had to answer a question no one else was asked. They wanted to know what I would do for the LGBT community of JNU if elected,Ghosh said.
He didnt think the question was odd. In fact,he has always been open about his sexuality,within and outside the university. I am gay and everybody knows this, he says nonchalantly.
Ghosh is the first gay candidate to have contested an election from JNU. He says he will be highlighting the same issues the other candidates were going to bring to fore hostels,scholarships,greater student democracy except one. There are many people on the campus who are gay. But no one has ever asked them about their problems. I was once thrown out of a hostel where right-wing students were in majority and no one ever questioned that, he says.
Ghosh (29) is also the oldest contestant this year,with Lygndoh Committee setting 30 as the upper age limit for contesting elections. He entered JNU in 2006 when he began his postgraduation at the Centre for English Studies.
One of his main agenda is expanding the scope of JNUs Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) to include LGBT issues and build an open conversation around it.
Ghoshs father is a government employee in Calcutta and his mother a homemaker. He smiles as he recalls telling his parents about his sexuality. My mother freaked out but ignored it. My dad thought I would fall in love with a girl sooner or later.
It is with fondness that Ghosh speaks about acceptance and support that he found at JNU,both from his peers and teachers,with regard to his sexuality. There are,of course,occasional moments of intolerance,he says. People keep asking my roommate about what it is like living with someone who is gay. But he brushes it off saying it is a matter of preference.
Ghosh also teaches an optional course to undergraduate students. At first,they are amused by my mannerisms,but eventually,they get used to it, he says.