As gay men living in the Indian subcontinent, we often complain about the discrimination we face at the hands of society.
Our complaints are obviously justified. There is no doubt that the conditions gay men face are bad. We are physically attacked, emotionally abused and treated in every way as second-class citizens.
As a gay man I want to demand equal status. Just because I have a different sexual orientation, that does not make me an alien. I am an equal human being made of bones and blood just the same as all the straight people. No one can deny my human rights.
But for the most part we remain in the closet. I would say no more than 5% of all the gay men in India are open about their sexuality. Fortunately social media has provided us a platform to speak, to make friends and meet potential dates, making our closets slightly more bearable.
And it was while I was on social media recently that a question came in my mind. All these gays always complain about discrimination happening to them but how liberal are they themselves?
If you read most status updates on gay and bi men’s groups on social media you will find that ‘tops’ present themselves as superior to ‘bottoms.’ This doesn’t seem to be the situation in the West but is a very common prejudice in India.
Why is this so? Is a top pretending to be worthier than a bottom any less a form of discrimination than a straight person imagining themselves better than a lesbian, bisexual or gay one?
When I was young and realized I am a gay, I also realized very quickly that in the eyes of society, the worst thing on earth is to get fucked. Society views people who get penetrated as inherently inferior to those who penetrate. The man who gets fucked is the cheapest person in the world and has virtues straight from hell.
So in my youthful sexual encounters I never allowed myself to enjoy this and felt guilty about it being something I wanted.
It did occur to me though, that this was in my mind mainly because I was having sex with men who identified as straight. Surely the people who really thought of themselves as LGBTI would have freed themselves from this prejudice.
Then, when I went onto social media, I soon discovered that gays are of three types – ‘top’, ‘bottom’ or ‘versatile’ – and this seems to be a strict categorization, resisting anyone who doesn’t think of themselves this way. It is as if we are sub-genders of one gender.
I often laugh reading online status descriptions: ‘pure top’ or ‘pure bottom.’ I wonder how much time it really takes to change a bottom gay into top and top into bottom.
To my mind every gay man is basically bottom. He wants a dick in his hand, mouth – and quite probably ass. The concept of a ‘pure top gay’ is a myth. Only a straight man can be a ‘pure’ top.
So why is it that top gays so often look at bottoms as merely a thing to use for their pleasure and why do bottom gay men in India so often feel more insecure in a relationship?
As a friend put it to me: ‘As a top gay it is safe to bring a bottom friend back home for sex. Even if you play vers it is ok. But as a bottom, if you bring someone home when alone it is a big risk.’
I felt bad about that but the fact I could not deny his logic shows the scale of the problem.
If we as gay men want equal status in society, we first must stop this kind of mentality. Otherwise shouting for gay rights or taking part in any number of LGBTI Pride parades is of no worth.