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.
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.
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
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.
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
but not as if to say that was the only side, a lot of
people were having good sex. But this element was there
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
where males collect, this is bound to happen. It happens
today, it is natural, you know.