Antarang — giving words to travails of same-sex relationship

On eve of Gay Pride,a look at the recently released Marathi book that is making more breathing space for LGBT community

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: June 27, 2013 2:30 am

Twenty-six-year-old Atish of Pune is,as per Lesbian-Gay-Transgender-Bisexual (LGBT) jargon,still not ‘out’,which means he prefers not to disclose his gay status.

“I love my partner,who is a bisexual and has a girlfriend. She is not aware he has relations with me and I know this is cheating,but I will wait for him,” says Atish.

Sapna (29),from Mumbai,has been with her partner for 21 years. “I didn’t know I was different but felt this girl was for me. I live life on my own terms and prefer not to be tagged as gay or lesbian,” says Sapna who eventually wants to settle down with her partner.

Vidyasakta (25),who completed his post-graduation in Pune,is tired of browsing the Internet to search for gay partners every now and then. “I am tired of casual sex and need emotional stability from my partner. Sadly,there are too many checklists gays have to conform to in this straight world,” Vidyasakta says.

They have chronicled all this in a book brought out by Bindumadhav Khire,coordinator of Sampathik Trust,an NGO funded by the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) and Global Fund Alliance to conduct HIV prevention programmes among the gay and transgender community in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

As the LGBT community across the world gets ready for the annual Gay Pride on June 28,in Maharashtra,the Antarang (Samalingi Mula-Mulincha Atmakatha—Anthology of True Stories of Lesbians and Gays) is making gradual ripples,making some more breathing space for people like Atish,Sapna,Vidyasakta.

The book chronicles the coming to terms of 17 gays and lesbians with their own sexuality and their struggles in a largely intolerant society.

Their experiences and struggles with their sexuality have been written with painful honesty,Khire said. Experiences of LGBTs not just from Pune and Mumbai but also from Satara,Ahmednagar,Jalgaon,Chandrapur,Parbhani,Nashik,Solapur and other places have a place in the book.

The objective was to provide a platform for gays and lesbians to speak about the anguish they face from a homophoebic society and their deep desire to be accepted by society.

There are stories of hope and despair,some of their families accepting their sexual orientation,and some who are still not out of the closet. There are some who are married but have a steady relationship with a gay partner as well.

Dr Bhushan Shukla,a psychiatrist whose views on LGBT community have been sought in the book,says acceptability levels are poor specially among parents,who are shocked and often remain in denial.

Senior Inspector Bhanupratap Barge,in charge of the Social Security Cell at the Pune Police Commissionerate,says the family members unwilling to accept the sexuality of their son or daughter is a problem. “In the last two years,we have counselled many parents,” adds Barge,who too has given his views on the subject in the book.

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