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Friday, September 10, 2004

Less than Gay: It's a Society Haunted by Heterosexual Blackmail

The Times Of India Warning - this site can be pop-up hell, so I've put the full article here.

VIKRAM DOCTOR[ TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2004 12:00:00 AM ]

When an unsuspecting gay casually admits to finding certain straight young man attractive, the consequences can be surprising, if not dangerous. The heterosexual could outnumber, if not overpower his gay 'companion'. They could eat his food, drink his liquor, take his money, enjoy oral sex from him and perhaps even beat him up or, in extreme cases, kill him, as happened with Pushkin Chandra in Delhi. But once the story hits the media — channelled to them by obliging police contacts — a spin is introduced: It wasn't their fault, those homosexuals forced them into committing a crime.

Come again? These are straight men, enjoying all the strength and authority that society accords to this tribe. They are not women or children whose weaker position makes them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Under most circumstances, they would readily side into a dominating, aggressive role. So, how do they suddenly become hapless victims of homosexuals?

It is amazing how in attacks on homosexuals things quickly get reversed in the reporting so that victims are presented as villains. We saw this happen in the Matthew Shephard case in the US when a slightly built young gay man was abducted, beaten up, crucified on barbed wire and left to die by two considerably larger and stronger men — who then in court tried to plead that it wasn't their fault since Shephard had tried to flirt with them, which so panicked them that they were driven into this. Whatever happened to just saying no?

Creditably, in that case the court threw out this 'gay panic' defence, but it looks like a variation on it is alive and well in Delhi. One wonders why the killers of Pushkin are still bothering to hide — the Delhi police, working through their tame media contacts, has given them their defence. They simply need to claim they were lured into the gay sex networks that we're told entrap young men like this and forced into doing what they did.

How exactly such 'networks' lure young men who in every other circumstance might conceivably have the strength and will to refuse is something that is conveniently glossed over. Homosexuals are believed to possess magic powers of seduction (Karan Razdan's vile Girlfriend made similar claims for lesbians), a stereotype which allows public opinion to gloss over the possibility that young men might not be all that unwilling. The stereotype also permits people to overlook the simpler aspects of gay crime, like the fact that it could be a routine murder-for-money case. In that event, no one would be exercised over why the villains did it.

Let us be clear, the seduction of straight men for gay sex certainly does happen. There are fashion designers and film directors out there who, in between denying that they're gay to the media, have no qualms in putting male models and actors on the casting couch. There are other young men, perhaps closer to the Pushkin case, who won't mind being given a good time by a gay guy in exchange for a few minutes when they close their eyes and think of women (or perhaps they don't close their eyes; after all, realities can be complex!).

The men, of course, cannot be easily compelled — except for hijras and effeminate young men who become commercial sex workers because it is pretty much the only career open to them. As for 'networks', they aren't needed because there is no shortage of such young men very willing to look for a good time — and, sadly, there's no dearth of men who from lust or loneliness are willing to provide it.

The Delhi murders should be seen against a backdrop of an increasing number of cases where criminals have targeted gay men. A blackmailing ring in Mumbai uses a decoy who flirts with gay men over the Internet, always selecting the lonely, deeply closeted ones. He lures a location where they find a 'policeman' waiting for them, who then abuses and threatens them until, terrified by both the physical violence and the threat of being exposed, they hand over their valuables. One man lost Rs 30,000 in just one rendezvous. Another gay man was blackmailed for months, eventually paying over a lakh. In Bangalore, a young gay man was recently lured into a meeting, only to find himself being abducted and held hostage for 36 hours. He was forced to reveal his credit/debit card PIN numbers so the kidnappers could withdraw all his money.

If the police and the media are looking for 'entrapment' these are the cases they should be focusing on, rather than take the easy way out by blaming the victim and letting the villains off the hook. Criminals would know by now that gay stalking and murder makes for the perfect crime. Not only would they find it easy to lure lonely gay men, they also know that most of these victims will be too scared to complain. Among other reasons, gays would fear what the police will accuse them of. Criminals can have their cake and eat it too: If the victim, like Pushkin, is killed and they are caught, the media steps in to furnish the alibi: It wasn't our fault, it was the homosexuals who made us kill them.

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