Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Vikram Seth steps out

I find Vikram Seth's recent announcement that he is gay, to be a most interesting piece of news. One hears of rumours and of the Doon school of gay writers from mean Mayo types and so on but he is the FIRST MAJOR PUBLIC FIGURE IN INDIA TO ANNOUNCE HE IS GAY/BI-SEXUAL.

I am very intrigued by the idea. Not that the idea of gay-dom is very interesting by itself, but the idea of Mr. Seth, the epitome of the genteel Indian author, lionized by all, writing about arranged marriages within the pastel French chiffon sari set in hill stations : being gay is somehow delicious.

Mind you I have not read any of his fiction except the Golden Gate which was great fun and his poems which are redolent with an intelligent sweetness that is quite adorable.

However, I wonder whether this would have any impact on his reputation of utmost respectability in India? To me it adds an edge… but to his readers. Or am I underestimating the Seth fan base – I see them as being literary aunties and giggly teenagers. I may be wrong, Suitable Boy came out at a point in my life when the phrase stood for everything genteel that I hated. I liked my fiction, like my men quite rough those days. Time to take a second look perhaps...

Its interesting how unique personality traits can be. How Vikram the peaceful can build his little empire and gently step out of the closet like he was never in it. Imagine if Rushdie was gay – basically. I mean… what is my point exactly???
Yeah I don't get it what's the big deal?
Welcome Anang. its just that Vikram has been the epitome of aspirational middle class respectability - and in India he is one of the most major stars to publicly announce he is gay - which is an event I think - I like how people politely ignore the news. Are we so civilised that we are not batting an eye lid or just unsure how to react?
I think there is a bit of the brushing it aside rather than engaging with it and accepting it. Which may be a good or a bad thing, I'm sort of ambivalent about a public persona defined by your sexual preference.

However for the literary insider, this is not news. Most of the literary circles in India and abroad knew fairly well that he was gay. As far as I know he's been with his current boyfriend for a long time.

But what is intriguing to me is that apparently he stated in his Calcutta book launch that he is bisexual. Cop-out?
Hi TM: I revised the post a bit, I had heard the rumours and suddenly the most unliterary husband man claims everybody knew, but as I say, this is a major announcement - as far as I know no other mainstream public figure has ever made such an announcement in India - so this is an event of historical importance.
I agree that no one needs to be defined by their sexuality - but the silence is deafening :)
It was already well known for several years that Vikram is gay. Which to the silkworm is the same as knowing he refers lemon popsicles over orange... ie, no difference either way. That's how it should be. And yes, you are underestimating his fan base.
sorry, the should have been 'prefers', not 'refers'. damn keyboard.
UH! Alot of us readers knew that he was gay, or confused, or bisexual, if you read his poems, you just know!
and also his mom's autibiography says it all. so readers knew.
If he's gay, well I find it the most vella topic to start a discussion on. Is he the only one? or is this the first time you're hearing a celebrity is gay... !? And more over... who are you to pass a strong stereo typical judgment on the Doon school's writers to be gay? I am myself a student of the Doon school and I take it as an offense. However, I do not believe that morals or social ethics have anything to do with a person's sexual interests. We need to admit that not everyone joins the majority... some are, unique. Please don't start to gossip about things which are unconventional just because the society's integrity of mind is screwed up... open your minds and emerge from these cheap pleasures like blog gossiping and assuming untrue statements about such a legendary school.
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