India’s first survey on gay men’s love and sex lives is out.
And though the organization which conceived of it is the first to admit that it may lack the rigor of a scientific survey, the Gay Men’s Love and Sex Survey 2013 nevertheless throws up interesting insights and debunks a long-prevailing myth.
The data provided by respondents from major Indian metros indicate that though gay men have ‘a rather adventurous sex life’, experimenting or taking risks, slightly over a quarter never had anal sex.
‘Certainly, gay and bisexual men have other equally popular sexual acts to resort to, and not just what is popularly called the real thing,’ the survey says.
It was conducted online for a month by Pink Pages, an Indian online magazine focusing on LGBT issues.
‘The first issue was released in July 2009, just days after the historic Delhi High Court judgment,’ says Udayan Dhar, editor in chief and founder of Pink Pages.
The judgment repealed part of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which had made sex between men a criminal offense.
‘At that time, the mainstream media ignored issues relevant to the LGBT community in India, and we started as a community journal to address these issues.’
Now established as a quarterly, Pink Pages thought of coming up with a survey on the love and sex lives of gay men.
‘This is the first love and sex survey for gay men in India,’ the 26-year-old Dhar says. ‘We have observed that the mainstream media keeps doing such surveys for heterosexual people, but gay and lesbian Indians are not included in those surveys.
‘Some gay publications in the west have come up with similar surveys in their countries, so we thought it’ll be a good idea to try something similar with gay men in India for the first time.’
Pink Pages invited its readers to take part in the survey and 510 gay men responded.
‘We understand that it was not a very scientific survey, but the findings do provide interesting insights,’ Dhar adds. ‘We did our best with the limited resources and other constraints of conducting such a survey among gay men.’
According to him, the most important finding is that gay men are not very different from straight people when it comes to relationships.
Most men – nearly half those surveyed – were single and looking for stable relationships.
‘It debunks the common myth that gay men would rather live their lives having multiple partners than have a sustained relationship with one person only,’ the survey says. ‘Nearly one in five are monogamous and committed, showing an increasing trend towards same-sex relationships in our cities.’
Dhar says the aspects they value in other people – emotional, psychological and sexual compatibility – are nearly what straight people too seek.
‘We can all appreciate the fact that people, both gay and straight, have the same hopes, aspirations and outlook on love and companionship,’ Dhar tells Gay Star News.
The Pink Pages survey shows more than half the respondents were sexually active before they turned 18. School friends, neighbors and cousins were the most common means of exploring their sexuality. Between 18 and 21 most men started experimenting first with anal sex.
At least two more surveys on LGBT issues have been conducted earlier. Both were by MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment), an Indian advocacy group.
The first one in 2011 was a campus survey, followed by a second one in 2012 on how the community is treated at the workplace.
What will Pink Pages do with its findings?
‘As a popular gay publication, we hope they help the gay community know themselves better,’ Dhar says. ‘And straight people can use these facts to remove certain negative stereotypes they have about gay and bisexual men.’