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A collection of oral histories
of LGBT persons

18. Saleem Kidwai

Saleem Kidwai

The lines on Saleem's age-weathered face is a testimonial to
the struggles by a gay man to live his life with dignity in India
during the time when homosexuality was considered a
perversion and a sin and legally a crime. It is also a sign of
the wisdom wrought by varied experience - from being the
only male child in an all woman traditional household in
Lucknow, to witnessing the same-sex bonding at India's
all-male premier boarding school, to studying in Canada
and being politicized by the LGBT groups, to coming back
and being part of the LGBT intellectual circle in Delhi, to
being one of the few out and proud spokesperson gay
community. Saleem's book with Ruth Vanita, 'Same-Sex
Love in India' proved to one and all that homosexuality was
not a western import and that there were same-sex writings
in India right from medieval times. He now lives a retired life
in Lucknow, but the news cameras and press often invade
his privacy and he has never said no to speak out his mind
- about homosexuality, literature and religion.

Vivek Anand

Concept, Interviews & Direction:
Sridhar Rangayan

project BOLO - vol1

Watch BOLO Video of Saleem Kidwai


Excerpts from BOLO Interview

Saleem: The parks, I found a little later… and the parks
were intimidating. If you are alone. I learnt about parks from
someone I met. You know, you didn't know anyone else
around, you had one or two bad experiences.

I don't want to go into the steamy side, but the stuff. I mean
there was stuff happening there. I mean the Connaught Place
parks for instance, as I was to discover, you met a lot of
people. All of us were there, you made friends… we were
into larger groups, you run and catch up with news and all
sort of things happening and there were also hustlers and
there were also blackmailers. And there were also cops.
People robbed you.

I mean, you know the New Delhi Railway Station was very
close by. So what would happen, people would pick up…
and there was always a problem of space and very often
people would walk down there and go into the trains that
were parked in the shed… and go into the empty
compartment and use that for sex… And people were
robbed there. At knife points, even razor blades and horrible
stories… but not as if to say that was the only side, a lot of
people were having good sex. But this element was there
all along.

And this, I later discovered from someone, that he had been
cruising in the Connaught Place park during the World War!
But that has been… the public places have always been that.
I mean after that, when I was researching a book and
discovered that markets and parks from the 14th-15th century
have been doing that… and even earlier… and anywhere
where males collect, this is bound to happen. It happens
today, it is natural, you know.



India : Queer Ink
International : Amazon

Supported by
UNDP India
Produced by
The Humsafar Trust

Associate Producer
Solaris Pictures
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Adita BandopadhyayAshok Row KaviBetu SinghBindumadhav KhireDalip DaswaniGauri SawantGeeta KumanaGiti ThadaniHoshang MerchantJehangir Jani
LachiLaxmi Narayan TripathiManvendra Singh GohilNishaParmesh ShahaniR.Raj RaoRuth VanitaSaleem KidwaiShivananda KhanSunil Gupta


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