To Goddess, With Love

28th May, 2018


My dear Oindrilla, 

Just got your wedding card via email. Congratulations! I will not be able to come. I am sure you understand. I don’t want to make things even more awkward for Subhashish. I don’t think he knows we are in touch. Let things be that way. 

I wanted to write this letter the old-fashioned way, by hand. It is a lost art.  I pulled out my old fountain pen, to write this letter. I wanted to write on handmade paper, but I thought that would be too much. So, this simple A4 size paper should do. No frills. No tassels. But I had to start with the श्री. I can see you rolling your eyes. But I was raised that way. I am that American Hindu that you young Indians love to make fun of. Those whose lives paused the day they migrated to the USA. Those who genuinely believe that the India they left behind was much better than their American dream. I am that character played by the brilliant Tabu in the film. “Namesake”. Did you see it? (The book I am told was better.) 

But I am so happy for you. You got your green card, and your girl. Good for you. You are living the life, I so wanted to live. Not that mine is bad. But it is not the same. Oh my, do I sound jealous of you.? Maybe I am. It is okay to be jealous of young people. All old people are. I was jealous of you the day I saw Subhashish look at you the way he did, every day, you were married. I was no longer the main woman in his life, his Goddess. He had his own Goddess, one who had been brought for him, just for him, all the way from India. Well, he brought you. We just went along. We were happy he did not want to marry those awful American Hindu girls. We were happy he was getting a good Indian girl from Delhi, educated, and cultured. We were nervous that you may not adjust to his American ways. And you took us all by surprise. 

I have a confession to make. Hence, this letter. I have been meaning to tell you for a long time. But did not have the courage. I saw you with Ankita on your wedding day. You were in the bathroom of the hotel, holding hands, and you let it go when you saw me. I saw the look in your eyes, your exaggerated excitement on seeing me, and I knew at that moment that Ankita was not just your friend. She was special. I thought, just like me, you were crushing your dreams to marry a man to make your parents happy. And hoping America will take away the pain. It never did for me. But you had other plans. And what a plan, what strategy… You, using marriage to get to America, Ankita using the college route… America is truly the land of possibilities. I wish I could do what you did. Walk away from my marriage as soon as I got my American citizenship. But these ideas are new. No one thinks like that. Your generation has more freedoms than you can imagine. 

I loved you more than a daughter-in-law, because you were just like me, in so many ways. I hoped you would make Subhashish happier than I made Binoy. I knew it would be tougher for you. Binoy was a kind man. He respected my wishes. If I did not want him to touch me, he would stay away. Subhashish is a go-getter. He would not accept a no. I feared for you. I know what happens to women who say no. We all do. But you were good. He adored you. I think you adored him too. Sometimes I get angry with you. He is after all, my son. And I think you used him. You used us. But then I calm down. Your elaborate plan helped me. Your arrival helped me. I felt so close to you, in ways few can understand. 

It is in America that I heard this word ‘lesbian’. I still don’t know what’s the word in Bangla. Or Hindi. I heard America use this word as an insult and later as an identity. I have heard friends giggle about ‘lesbians’ and I have laughed at jokes about ‘those’ girls. I had reconciled to my simple life with my non-demanding husband and entitled son. It was a good life. A rich life. How many Indian women can say they have two cars in their front yard and a swimming pool in the back yard and a three-storeyed house? My friends in India were all envious. Even Vidya, the girl I loved, who never knew and still doesn’t know my feelings. Oh my God, am I making any sense? Your wedding card is bringing back so many memories. I want to write this down and put it in an envelope and send it to you, as a sign of my love. Because I genuinely want you to know I don’t hate you for breaking my Subha’s heart. In fact, I love you for helping me discover mine. 

I am also writing this letter to give you some big news. Sit down. And prepare yourself. 

I came out. Yes, I did. I took your advice and came out. Not just to myself, but to Binoy too. Not Subhashish. I am too scared of telling him. I saw how he behaved with you – the awful language he used. If he does the same to me, I will not be able to handle it. I understand that he was hurt. But the language… We come from good families. We don’t use such words. I did not know he used such words. I was always proud that my son, even though he was raised in America, never used such words. But then I saw him lashing out at you, at home, in public, in court. I was so ashamed of him. I just could not be supportive of him. To lose your grace and dignity, is just not done. I apologize for all that he did. I understand his grief, but I will never forgive his meanness. Those words… I am scared he will use them against me too. And that would be too much for me to bear. 

I am glad you living your life, Oindrilla. I am glad you found a job, a girlfriend. Now you will have a wife. I am glad you are getting married. I wish I was there dressing you up. I wish I could oversee the wedding ceremony. For the sake of all women like us, who have to crush our desires and make everyone else happy. We are Goddesses, aren’t we? We are given to make people happy. No one asks us if we are happy, with what we are given. We are Lakshmi’s pot, Saraswati’s lute, Durga’s sword, useful in other people’s hand. Not allowed to decide where we want to go, what we want to do, what food we want to serve, what music we want to make, whose throat we wish to cut. 

I am happy for you my dear ex-daughter-in-law. I am happy you are living the life you want – and not one that we want you to live. I was so proud of you when you came out. I was torn between wanting to support you and comforting my son. You broke his heart, but you helped me find mine. 

Binoy took the news gracefully. For a moment I thought he would crack one of his unfunny jokes. Thankfully, he did not blame you for my declaration. I was terrified of that. Everyone will say that. We all want to believe that our people are pure. We all want to believe that our people get polluted by others. Binoy never mentioned you even once. All he said was: do you want a divorce? And then he cried. 

His reaction surprised me. It was not what I expected. I held his hand until he regained his voice. He placed his other hand on mine. He was terrified I would leave him. That night we spoke. And he cracked his unfunny joke. He was glad I was a lesbian. So, all those nights when I rejected him, it had nothing to do with the fact that he was short, fat, bald and ugly. We laughed. Binoy is spectacularly ugly. There, I have said it. Even my mother said it. Everyone knew I married him because I could go to America. It was my escape from Kolkata and those unending political debates. I had to make a baby and then I would control the household. It was advice my grandmother had given me a long time ago. Remember, even Goddess Durga’s husband is useless, leaves her to do all the housework, but she rules the divine household, she told me. Every Bengali girl has heard this. Take charge of the household. I just wanted mine to be in America. So that I could enjoy a life my friends would envy. I would never get to kiss Vidya, I would at least have a car. Things would satisfy me. 

They do, right? But not entirely. It great to sleep in a huge waterbed, in an air-conditioned room. But then you see that ugly husband who owns the bed, and you, and you want to throw up. Luckily, kind and sweet Binoy never behaved like most men do. He treated me with dignity and respect. I love him for that. And I loved him even more when he cried. He feared losing me. He feared being alone in his big house in America. 

Which brings me to the second big news. Binoy asked me who was the girl who had converted me. Yes, he said converted. I confessed it was Penelope. You were the one who told me that Penelope was into me, that she was not just an American who loved yoga. You hinted that her friendly nature was something more. It was. She would kiss me, every time we had a private moment. At home, at school, at picnics. I think she forced James to be friends with Subhashish only to be close to me. I did not mind. I think I even reciprocated those kisses, but kept my distance, enjoying her attention. But when you left, and all hell broke loose, she held my hand and we confessed our love for each other. Twenty years of friendship and unspoken love. She never asked me to leave Binoy. As a single mother, I think she understood loneliness. I told Binoy about Penelope and he said – yes, he said – that we should all live together in the house. Can you believe it? Binoy, the radical Bengali, suggested we should all three live in the house together. I said Subhashish would not like it. And he said, Subhasish is an American raised in San Francisco. He better live up to the city’s reputation. 

And so, my dear Oindrilla, Binoy and Penelope and I are living in the house that was once your home. There will be no marriage here. But there will be love. A different kind of love. A mature kind of love. Of people who respect and care for each other, who fear loneliness, and know the value of companionship. And if you and your wife ever want to take a vacation, we have a guest room, and a swimming pool. We can call Subhashish to join us – but I guess he won’t come. 


Your ex-mother-in-law,

Also, a lesbian,

Beloved of Binoy and Penelope,


(A short story by Devdutt Pattanaik, )

The GayBombay Bandra Meet

17th May, 2013

The history of the Gaybombay Bandra Meets dates back to the last millennium. The first meets happened in town – but they were shifted to a more centralized location so people from all over the city could commute easily. So they shifted to Bandra. The venue was decided as the Bandra McDonald’s where people could collect and have informal discussions. This was in ’99.

The meetings were advertised on the yahoogroups and people started turning out for them in large numbers. At a time it was not uncommon to get about 30 people gathering at the McDonald’s terrace. But eventually, a few meetings down the line, the McDonald management decided that we couldn’t occupy the space for a long period of time – it was a fair enough request since the day we met up was a Sunday and there was always a problem with insufficient space for people to sit.

So a member of the group decided to take the gang to his aunt’s, who lived nearby. It was found that people could easily communicate in a homely atmosphere and it was a better bet. It was better in the sense, that newbies who came to the meet, uncomfortable and scared, felt safer in a space in an informal setting of someone’s home. Moreover, the family, present in the home where the meets were held, was accommodating and inviting – so people generally were put at ease.

The Bandra meets gained a reputation for having a healthy atmosphere in which parleys were welcomed and everything related to the homosexual subculture in India was discussed. For a time, they moved to another supporter’s home. There, some meets metamorphosed into special meetings, related to certain indian festivals like the Rakhi Meet. And then they shifted to yet another team member’s home for about three years, before it shifted back to the aunt’s house at Pali.

Over the years, the meets have gained their own space in the LGBT community. This September marks 14 years of having meets on the first Sunday of every month at Bandra.

It Gets Better: Zachary Quinto

Perin Ilavia’s Article

Have you contemplated how you’d react if you discovered your child was gay! Would you rupture a nerve or would you react with equanimity? Talking to a cross section of people, I found most of them reacted – Gay?!!

Homosexuality has been prevalent in every strata of society and always swept under the carpet and only recently it is being discussed openly. Though an existing fact, the word is not mentioned and no thought is given to this aspect of a person’s nature.

It can’t happen to me, is what parents usually think. How are you supposed to react? With horror or understanding?

Most parents were embarrassed to be asked about it. A person does not become gay out of choice. Many want to be straight, but nothing can change “that feeling.”

Parents of gay children blame themselves and the children feel victimised by society. “It takes a lot of courage to admit to the fact, that your child is different”, says a mother of a 21-year-old boy.

“The growing up years were filled with pranks, fun – he had a lovable nature and was a brilliant student, inclined more towards music and art than football. Nothing unusual. The teenage days were filled with pimples, loud music, long phone calls, change of hairstyle and dress sense. Had the boy changed? As a matter of fact, he hadn’t. He was the same sensitive, fun-loving teenager”, she says, going back in time. Though unnerved, she says “it’s alright. It is who you are that matters, not what you are”. The boy was not shunned or discouraged, his sisters accepted his relationship and they found his partner was a loving kid.

“I am not sure when I figured something was different about Marcos,” says his mother. It was over a period of time, that he became withdrawn, their conversations were brief and Marcos seemed to be the only boy who was not interested in girlie magazines, or dating.

Most children want to share their sorrows and joys with their parents, but the fear of rejection makes them withdraw. One day she walked into Marcos’s room and found him with his boy friend. She was horrified! This can’t be happening to her she thought. She went into a depression. How would she face her friends? Everyone must already know about it!

After that encounter, Marcos was distant, he couldn’t look his parents in the eye, neither knew what to say, and each lived with guilt and shame, which made the situation tense. It took a long time for them to accept, and when they did, the strained relationship improved. “You cannot know until it happens to you”, confided the father of a teenaged boy. When Surendra’s son told him he had a boyfriend, he didn’t think there was anything wrong with that… until Sudhir said, they wanted to live together. “Oh no”, thought Surendra. “Why? Why me?” He was devastated. He thought he was a failure as a parent, which is a normal reaction of all parents. He loved his son very much but a continual refusal to accept the fact, distanced them. There would be sideway glances and snide remarks, because that is the way he reacted to gays. Surendra was full of self pity and thought of society, which would ostracise his son and him too. His son would never know what wedded bliss was, and he would never have grandchildren and all his dreams for his son were shattered. Who was he feeling sorry for, himself or his son? Surendra felt his son had died and lived in sorrow and pain.

Alice and Adrian knew their son was that way inclined, as Arnold had told them within six months of the relationship starting. It was a shock, but they gradually accepted the fact. After a year of revealing that he was gay, he asked permission to bring his partner home for the weekend. “I want him to meet you, and see where I grew up”. The parents agreed. On the way to the guest room to make the bed, Alice was unnerved. Her daughter staying with her boyfriend was different, but her son and his partner seemed too much to handle. She wondered if she could make separate beds. She wondered if she had actually accepted the fact. Had she, she would not be contemplating separating them and she made up the double bed. She recalls, there were kisses and hugs on his arrival. He was a loving, intelligent, ambitious boy. The next morning when she realised they were actually in the same bed, she asked herself how she felt. She felt alright. She knocked on the door, and was asked to come in. There was no embarrassment or shock, just happiness. They were two human beings who contributed to society and their family, who loved each other. The relationship was totally accepted by their friends.

Many gays who are not accepted by their family, are socially cut off, but if the parent is determined that his child should not be ostracised by society, he must accept the fact first, before society accepts the same.

Homosexual and heterosexual relationships are based on the same things. Searching for and finding a special person to share your life. It is understood that it is not a mental illness as it was believed. More parents are talking about it, encouraging others to face the situation.

It is positively the parents’ duty to support and help the child, say psychiatrists.

It was two years ago that Rita’s daughter had told her she was a lesbian. Rita could not accept it. She had lost her husband, and now her only child had become defensive and withdrawn. Rita was full of mixed emotions. She loved her child very much and did not know how to discourage her. Maybe she should have let her play cricket with the boys, rather than play with dolls. The guilt and shame and the blame was never ending. Self-pity and anger consumed her. She felt she’d wasted her life producing a child who had rejected all her principles and feminity. She felt betrayed. Had she not given birth to her, she would not be going through this heartache. Why did it happen to her she wondered, for many years. Once she accepted the situation, the relationship with her daughter improved.

Why do parents accept? Is it the fear of losing the love and respect of the child? The life of a gay, said many parents, seemed so trivial. No marriages (though now in the West they are solemnised) no births, (now gays can adopt children) yet, it is a relationship of a procreation couple. Children who had become sullen, rude, totally withdrawn, return to love, warmth and a honest relationship with the parents, for, when a child tells his /her parents it is a moment of relief and anticipation. If accepted he or she can now share a very important part of his or her life with YOU — who have shared every small detail in his or her life till date.

I know a lot of gay men, and as many women will confirm, they make good friends. They are not only brilliant and creative, they are perfectly normal people, with the same fears and phobias as we have. Adapting to the way of life your child chooses, is the best, say parents of gay children. It is the parents duty to make the child aware of the dangers and advise them to take precautions and care of themself as the risks are rampant and varied.

A gay relationship is very intense and long lasting. There have been cases when a friendship breaks, to be replaced by another one, causing heartache and pain. Gays could be afraid of ageing, for the fear that they may not be attractive to their partners. Many incidents of HIV have been identified – most of them accept it is the way of life, and it is up to the parents to wither and be devastated, or bring joy to all by accepting the fact, that their child is gay.


Deccan Herald B’lore

9th February, 2002


by Deepak Kashyap

  • What makes some people gay and not others?
  • Being gay or straight is not in someone’s hand. Geneticists and other researchers are looking at many areas like epigenetics (hormonal effects on turning on and off of a gene), genetics (DNA make-up), pre-natal hormones and brain structure.

Despite all the wonderful and expensive research going on around the world, we till today don’t know much about anything regarding the origins of homosexuality. The results which we have from those researches are not conclusive.

Having said that, almost all the researches done with a scientific rigor, points in one direction, that is, homosexuality is not a choice and it is a result of biological forces which are not completely known yet. We do know that, parental upbringing has no influence on the child’s sexual orientation like most Freudians have believed up until quite recently.

Sexual orientations are quite permanent in nature and it is very hard to change and make someone “straight.”

Molestation in childhood also has no link to sexual orientation in adulthood.

  • How do we know whether someone is gay or not?
  • You don’t need to know whether someone’s gay or not. It is a very private piece of information about their lives which they shouldn’t be forced to share with anyone they don’t choose to share it with. Respect everyone’s personal struggle with issues they have in life. Give people time, space and comfort enough to come out on their own, if you ‘suspect’ that they might be gay.

Many gay people themselves, generally speaking, don’t have much to question as to what their sexual orientation dictates, because it comes so naturally to them. However, there are still quite a lot of people who can be genuinely confused about their sexual orientation. And IT’S OKAY to QUESTION oneself about whether they are gay, straight or bisexual. As sexuality for some people is too fluid to be categorized in neat compartments. Sexual orientations are not just defined by “whom you have slept with?” Or “whom they are sleeping with?”, but by “whom they desire to sleep and have a romantic relationship with”; the major way one discovers their sexual orientation is by one’s sexual fantasies. Again, one needs to extend a lot of kindness and love towards oneself during this process of self-discovery.

  • Are all effeminate guys gay? Why are so many gay guys effeminate?
  • No, not all gay people are effeminate. There are many “masculine” boys and men who are gay as well. It’s just that effeminacy in a man gives him more visibility compared to the “masculine stereotype of a man”, which helps them blend in with the crowd. Some men who are gay might consciously hide their homosexuality behind the same masculine façade in a more successful way, or so they think, compared to others who can’t help but be visible. That’s also a fortunate reason that most gay rights movements around the world, from Stonewall to Humsafar Trust in India, by people who can’t help but be and look themselves.

Unconscious mannerism (masculine or feminine), just like many traits about ourselves are governed by our biological and psychological natures. Hormones and other mostly unknown biological factors govern how people will sound like (high pitch or low pitch voice), walk like and talk like. If that wasn’t the case, why do you think people will choose to act or behave in a certain way (boys being feminine in this case) which can only get them ridiculed, ostracized and trivialized. When we are not acting, we are just being ourselves. I think we should not let our internalized sexism and misogyny, give us the right to make fun of people.

  • Aren’t most homosexuals pedophiles? Isn’t homosexuality linked to pedophilia?
  • All homosexuals are pedophiles just as all heterosexuals are rapists. Pedophilia and homosexuality have no link to each other. Even the researchers suggest that there are neurological and endocrine abnormalities in pedophilia but not in homosexuals. In fact, some research suggests that homosexuality may have a genetic basis, whereas there is no evidence to date for a genetic factor in pedophilia.

Isn’t sex between two men and two women un-natural? You can’t even have babies, can you? Are you all impotent?

No, it is not. Homosexuality has been found not only in humans but in almost every other primate species, some fish species and other animals. You can see homosexual sexual activity and pair-bonding in flamingoes, cats, bison, geese, dolphins, bonobos, monkeys , dogs, donkeys to name a few. There is nothing in nature which is extra-natural or un-natural, remember the verse Vikruti Evam Prakriti (what seems un-natural is also natural) from Rigveda.

Anyway, homosexuality is natural because it comes naturally to humans.

Just because someone is homosexual that doesn’t mean that they are impotent. Impotence has no links to homosexuality. If that was the case then how is it that those homosexuals who choose to marry women still have children? Also many homosexual couples AND single individuals go for surrogacy. They very well adopt children too.

The whole argument of ‘sex is for reproduction’ is very misleading and simply not true. Humans are among those very few species of animals that have sex not only for reproduction, but to express love, experience emotional fulfillment and to enjoy their lives. It is true for heterosexuals alike. To repeat, expression of love and experience of emotional fulfillment are equally important purpose and some times more important than reproduction. That’s why heterosexual couples with no children are not forced to separate from each other.

  • Isn’t “homosexuality” a western import?
  • It is as much a western import as Kama-sutra and Vedas are.

It is not a western import. It is not an import at all for anyone. It is just a form of human diversity which has been recorded mostly in ancient Indian texts only second to the Greeks.

In fact Indian texts from antiquity talks about homosexuality just the way they would talk about heterosexuality, with the exception of the few texts. Just one look at our cultural heritage from before “foreign” invasions would tell you that those temples in Khajuraho and Ajanta and Ellora and possibly every temple which is even as old as 800 years, could not have been the product of a society which was sexually repressed. AND statutes depicting homosexuality is not a recent addition to the murals on those temples.

  • Homosexuality causes AIDS, doesn’t it?
  • No, homosexuality doesn’t cause AIDS. A virus, called HIV causes AIDS. This virus can be transferred through sexual activities and some activities which are not sexual at all. Straight people (heterosexuals) can get HIV through the same mediums and unprotected sexual activities as gay people (homosexuals) can.

And since when has AIDS become our standard of moral judgment. If that was the case then lesbian sex is the safest sex of all. That should be recommended, shouldn’t it be?

Having said that it is important to recognize that homosexual men are more likely of getting HIV statistically compared to their straight counter parts. That’s not because they are gay, it’s because they are ignorant of the dangers involved with sex itself. In almost every part of the developing world the homosexual population is the hidden and inaccessible population with no means of finding out about the right practices and no power with the NGO of educating this segment of society. The similar case was with the straight population before the onset of AIDS epidemic, but it was easier to educate them and talk to them, as it wasn’t ILLEGAL to be straight.

  • Straight people don’t flaunt their sexualities why do gay people have to do that?
  • Straight people flaunt their sexualities all the time, directly or indirectly, through reference to their girlfriend, boyfriend or husbands and wives, through letting people maintain the assumption that they are straight and by merely discussing their future hopes and dreams about their personal lives. Gay people should be allowed and appreciated if they choose to do the same in their own ways.
  • Isn’t anal sex un-natural and unhygienic?
  • Human anus is and has been used as a sexual organ as well, as uncommon as this knowledge might be. Human anus has a lot of nerve endings which can give a lot of sexual pleasure if dealt with a lot of care just like any other sexual organ. Heterosexual sex also involves anal sex more times than we would like to admit. However, special protection and care has to be used in case of anal intercourse as it is a very delicate organ. It is always advisable to use a lot of lubrication and condoms for safe and pleasurable sexual experience.

Using lubrications for Sex is not natural; Some women who experience a non-sufficient amount of vaginal fluids are medically advised to use lubrication to facilitate and enhance their sexual pleasure. And since when has lubrication become the standard of morality?

Yes, anal sex can be unhygienic, just like any other sexual activity if the body parts involved are not cleaned properly. It’s a question of personal hygiene in general, which can apply to vagina and penis too.

  • Don’t people change once they have married a person from the opposite sex?
  • No, they don’t change their sexual orientation. They still desire partners of the same sex even if they have been married “happily” to the partner of opposite sex. Besides homosexual, just like anyone else should not destroy a girl’s married life, which in most cases is her entire life; by marrying them as a means “cure” themselves.
  • Is homosexuality all about sex?
  • No, it is not just about sex. It is about love and emotional fulfillment, which a homosexual can get only with the partner of the same sex. It is about romance and it’s about the same dreams and hopes which straight people have with their personal lives they share with who they choose to love. It’s about the freedom to be oneself and acceptance of one’s nature.
  • Can homosexuality be spread and will homosexuality increase if the female population decreases?
  • No it can’t be spread. Like it has been mentioned above in this document, no one can choose to be gay or straight or force others to be gay or straight. It is out of a conscious decision making faculties of our brain.

Society will continue to function the way it has been functioning, because historical evidence suggest that in any given population the majority (80-90 percent) have opposite sex attraction, it isn’t likely to change any soon and besides it is in no one’s hand. One can rest assured that if India’s population dwindles down to that of an endangered species, gay men and lesbian women would be more than happy to donate their sperms and eggs to support it back to a less scary number.

We have no research till today to prove that straight men will become gay if the number of women in the general population goes down. This is a myth. We can safely say that increased number of women will not affect the number of gay men born in anyway either.

  • Doesn’t homosexuality destroy the moral fabric of society?
  • The hues and colors of so called moral fabric are very different for all of us.

Corrosion of a moral fabric happens through actions of individuals and not through personal identities. Certain forms of heterosexual activities are threatening to the so called moral fabric of this country like dowries, marital rapes, and forced marriages on the basis of caste, class and color of skin.

Male chauvinism, female subordination and female infanticide giving rise to the alarmingly lop-sided sex ratio are some of the major culprits and threats to the social fabric of justice.

Two consensual adults expressing their sexuality and love for the same sex partner is not a threat to this society. Legalization of homosexuality will only make gay people happier by giving them dignity and full ownership of their bodies and minds, guaranteed to every citizen by our constitution.