There was a thing in the paper today, Mahatma Gandhi, according to a recent biography, had a gay lover. There was mixed response to this news. Some people thought the revelation was disrespectful, but most of the people I spoke to responded in the same way they would if they heard some titillating gossip about the vicar having an affair.
So in the way that the mind finds illogical logic in connecting the dots of consciousness, this news of Mr Gandhi got me thinking.
Why did the author reveal this? I have never honestly understood how, in this 21st century, or even in the 20th the news that someone was gay is ‘news’, scandalous news. Why can people not just be who they are and why does society want to stick its nose into people’s privacy.
We don’t discuss the sexual preferences and proclivities of every straight person. We don’t discuss that Mr so and so likes to be tied up, and Mrs X likes giving head and etcetera. We do not. Straight people keep their sexual preferences to themselves, so why should gay people not be afforded the same privacy? Ok, so yes, there are those people who are defiant about their orientation and there are those who express themselves in the most colourful ways, and that’s fine. That’s part of our rich diversity as humans. However, some gay people just prefer to keep their sexual orientation to themselves, and they should, I think, be allowed to do so. I don’t see why, if they prefer privacy, they should not be afforded privacy.
The world is so full of stuffy prigs who haven’t the intelligence or imagination to see beyond their prosaic, vacant, obtuse, uninspired, parochial little lives. They want everyone in the world to be like them, but who the hell would want to be like them? They are boring and colourless and judgemental and hypocritical and bigoted. They are fear-filled ignorant haters. It must be hell to be a like them.
When I was in my late teens, early twenties there was a young man who I used to hang with. He was very beautiful and we had fun together. He used to take me to goth clubs and punk clubs and trendy gay clubs to arty movies and underground bars. He was responsible for a huge part of my Alternative-London social education. We were together so much that to anyone I guess it looked like we were dating. He wasn’t effete. He hadn’t declared. He didn’t need to. I knew he was gay.
One day he called me and told me to come over to his flat because he had something to discuss with me. He sat me down and told me that what he was about to say may upset me and he wanted me to prepare myself. Then he gave me a drink and told me to drink it because what he was about to say was quite devastating. I was really scared. I sat there for what seemed like ages waiting for this cataclysmic thing that he said may change my life. I imagined fatal disease, maybe AIDS or Cancer or, I didn’t even know. But, I was scared stiff.
It took him a long time to say the words. It was as though they stuck in his throat, or he was afraid to utter them. I picked up on his fear and mine doubled.
“What? For God’s sake, you’re scaring me”. I said
“It’s not easy to say”. He said.
I felt a kind of paralysing panic. I was all tension.
I was momentarily confused. The words were like solid matter for a moment, and then they disintegrated.
“Is that it?” I said. He said “yes”. “I know that”, I said. And then my flood gates opened and I cried copious tears of relief and we hugged and I allowed myself to be a little mad at him for scaring me like that.
“That is not devastating” I said. But to him it was. He had had to tell his parents, who were, luckily modern enough and loving enough. But when he explained to me what I hadn’t understood it seemed so illogical. Why would he think I would disown him? Why should anyone disown him for being gay? Why should friends drop him? But apparently there were a few who had. He had saved telling me till last.
After that I was a regular face with him at Gay Pride marches and ‘Fabulous Nobodies’,
which another gay friend hosted every year to welcome spring, where we got dressed up to look as fabulous as movie stars, or more fabulous if we could manage it, and partied the afternoon away in his garden. At Fabulous Nobodies there was much flamboyance.
I haven’t thought about that in a long while. Happy memories. So, for me, at least, the revelation about Mr Gandhi has had a positive outcome. I hope it may for others.