“To Come Out or Not to Come Out?” Vasundhendra answers at MCPH2 min read
Manipal: Noted Kannada writer Vasudhendra delivered a talk on the subject, “To come or not to come out”, at Manipal College of Philosophy and Humanities (MCPH). It was organised by the Centre for Women’s studies and the Centre for Intercultural Studies and Dialogue on February 22.
Congratulating the university and students for organising the talk, he said, “If 10% of this (talk) was discussed during my college days, I would not have suffered in life as much as I suffered to come out.” He went on to speak about his book, Mohanaswamy, which was released on December 11, 2013 – the same day the Supreme Court upheld Section 377 that criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”. It was at this time that Vasudhendra came out as gay.
He shared his experiences as a school going kid and the constant battle he fought because of having been a man with feminine features. “If I danced, they would say that I danced like a girl. If I played sports and threw a ball, they would say that I throw like a girl. I decided my personality is not for sports,” he said.
Analogizing the way he treated his sexuality to a handicapped person, he told the audience the way he sought out of his predicament was by performing well in academics, to feel accepted among his fellow students. Academics became his compensation for his then perceived ‘deformity’ – his sexuality.
He also spoke at length about the importance of conducting sessions on gender and sexuality in regional languages. During his counselling sessions, he recalls people not being aware of their sexuality. He pointed out mainstream Kannada writers – K. Shivram Karanth and Ananthamurthy, men who command enormous respect in their region – for their homophobic writing and portraying homosexuality in a dark manner.
As his book, Mohanaswamy, now translated to English speaks extensively about the LGBTQ community, he urged the audience to conduct more sessions and pieces of writings on the community in regional languages. While discussing who to come out to, what coming out really means, he pointed at acclaimed Bollywood director Karan Johar, whose sexuality is known to his near ones but who refuses to come out to the press in fear of being arrested. “There is no law that criminalises sexual identity. It is important for celebrities like Johar to come out, as it can play a role in encouraging the society to embrace sexual identities of people,” he added.
The talk was followed by an interaction between the speaker and the audience.
Edited by Shriya Ramakrishnan