Look, what Starfest has done; she’s gone ahead and opened the Pandora’s box even before Lara Croft dreamed of coming anywhere near it. If some of you haven’t noticed, we have been exchanging seemingly vitriolic jibes and been literally at each other’s throats accusing each other of the G word. Although it has been all in the name of fun (I hope so, Mich.), it did remind me of my weird thought processes and equally inane experiences that I regularly go through in my otherwise sedate life. I wanted to keep my thoughts on the sexual orientation of nearly ten percent of Americans to myself but what the heck. I am, by no measure, a homophobic unlike many of my friends who primarily have been Indian. The Adam-Steve jokes apart, I never have been uncomfortable talking about the whole gay phenomenon. The general reaction in apna Desh to gay-ism is that of shock and horror and gut reaction to meeting any of those kinds either ended up in bashing the pulp out of him or staying a good 6 feet away from him. I have heard some of my friends recounting stories of gay-bashing (literally) but somehow I always sympathized with the poor thrashed Homo Sapien (yup, they are people too). Almost all of the people in my friend circle refuse to talk about it, let alone accept the fact that some people are just born that way. I have always looked at the issue objectively, maybe in part due to my training-in-process to be a policy analyst. As analysts, we are trained to care for the underprivileged and unrepresented so the recent Supreme Court decision overruling sodomy as an offense was hailed as a pure expression of individual choice rather than a lewd act. My open agreement with the decision raises few eyebrows.

I have met more than my share of gays – male and female by being out here in the land of the free; maybe it’s the heightened tolerance and of course, non-existence of chances of being thrashed. There was this time I was working with K, a mid-thirties woman on a research project and she happened to see my Urmila wallpaper on my laptop and remarked “It’s so strange that we have the same taste in women”. She laughed when my eyes widened like an Ashok Leyland truck headlight, unveiling my surprise. My academic advisor is openly gay and proudly displays posters of Pride in his office and the research problems in his class are often focused on gay-lesbian rights and attitudes in society. Did you know that gays are more likely to be more educated, wealthier and tend to enjoy the arts than boring straight people? But all said and done, the things that set him apart from the other faculty are his brilliant mind and high academic productivity. But then not experiences are pleasant. Sometime last year, I was at this unbranded but cozy coffee shop, studying in peace when I sense someone’s eyes on me. I glance around to see this guy, looking weird at me. After a while, he calls out to me and asks “Have I seen you somewhere — are you on the Georgia Tech’s swing dance team”. Now I never knew such a thing as a swing dance team existed. I replied curtly but truthfully, “Nope, I don’t dance”. He chuckles and adds “You should!”. Usually the quiet sort, I wanted to get up and punch his face. Instead I gave him my patented cold khunaas look which instantly wiped the smirk off his face and he retreated. Now I get all uncomfortable when a girl flirts with me, so you can imagine my plight then. But that incident did not shift my sympathies and I dismissed it as a solitary incident.

Knowing your priorities is extremely important. I hate those indecisive ones who claim to be bi-sexual. Come on, folks make up your mind ! And by bi-sexual, I am not talking about those kinds who love having sex and then saying bye. Although untested, it’s a well-admitted fact that gay males tend to be the epitome of the perfect man that girls desire but can’t have. Maybe it’s just the case of sour grapes that makes some of them resent their kind. But I bet even gay men can be as bigoted as straight men — just that they refuse to admit it. Ask their partners. A straight man, though having finer tastes in life — like appreciating the rain — is branded gay, much to his consternation (*nudge nudge*, Mich.). If you expect straight men to be crass, brazen chauvinist opinionated pigs, don’t be surprised if you end up with one. Science says the being gay is genetic, so if you call me gay, you are calling my great-grandfather gay too, not that I mind but maybe his resting soul might.

If you are still wondering on which side of the sexual balance I belong to, I can quote from Charlie’s — Strong enough for a man but made for a woman. Go figure !