No going back

No going back

India’s first gay memoir shows how guarded gay people have to be, and how terribly isolated this makes them.

(This is a review from our December 2015 print quarterly, 'The Marriage Issue: Loves, Laws, Lusts'. See more from the issue here.)

The book release of Siddharth Dube's memoir No One Else: A personal history of outlawed love and sex in New Delhi was most opportunely timed. It was at the crossways of three significant events related to issues central to the plot of Dube's personal narrative. Many of us were celebrating Pride month in New Delhi, marching the streets with courage and colours on 29 November 2015, followed swiftly by World AIDS Day, while also simultaneously organising in protest of the two-year anniversary of the 2013 Supreme Court judgment that upheld Section 377, the draconian colonial law that criminalises sexual activities that are "against the order of nature". Chronologically, the chapters draw a parallel to the sequence of events that (will) go into the making of a public history of outlawed love and sex in India.

I found myself at the book launch in a conference hall near the Lodhi Gardens, coincidentally located near where Siddharth Dube found "one of the greatest loves" of his life. It was here that one morning he accidently ran into Tandavan with whom he went on to spend many years of his life, discovering love, desire and other hard truths. It was also here, that one of his greatest fears of "being discovered" walked up to him in the guise of the police invoking Section 377:

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Himal Southasian