But at no time, I heard anyone talk about homosexuality.
We were taught about Sodom and Gomorrah at the Sunday School with subtle insinuation about how wrong homosexuality is.
Homosexuality is not part of a 'well raised' god fearing Malayalee Christian community.
We certainly never had gays in Kottayam.. or did we?
I joined the medical school in Bangalore and once in a while during the ragging process, there would be a talk among seniors (boys) as to which junior is supposedly gay and how we should 'fix' him !!
Of course we learned about human sexuality, but again, there were never any mentions of homosexuality and there was no way we could have accepted a homosexual in to our college. After all homosexuality can and should be cured!
Of course by then I was a voracious reader and read about famous gay men and I was also madly in love with Freddie Mercury and he had said once " I am as gay as daffodil my dear". So, yes, there were 'real' gays I knew, but they all lived in other countries and none were Malayalees!
Once in a while, I would meet a guy wearing saree in the bus ( hijada) and I knew not to stare at him for I would be showered with abuses for staring. Occasionally I would meet a very effeminate patient admitted at the hospital and I ignored the annoying effeminate part, at least I tried. It felt weird to deal with a guy who acted like a female, what with the whole nursing staff making comments about the correct ward ( read female) to send my male patient to.
Eventually I met 'him'.
We met at a book shop in Bangsar. He is very tall, fair and handsome. What I noticed about him was the way he dressed. It was as though he walked out of the Gwalior Suiting ad.
Imagine a crowded book shop full of Asians ( short) and then in the middle is this tall guy, clearly Indian, but unlike most Indians, he was dressed very well.
My curiosity was piqued when I noticed the books he had chosen, he picked the same books I came to buy. And then the owner of the book shop came out and said he wants to introduce me to 'someone'.
And that was the beginning of a friendship..
He is well educated, well read, and is a seasoned traveller. He is also gay.
My idea of gay men up until that moment was someone who is effeminate..a loser..
Now, don't get me wrong, I had nothing against Gay men, but my Christian upbringing had ensured that I have set notions about homosexuality.
But my friend was not effeminate. He was true and true a macho man.
If I ever needed a friend to talk to and if he was in KL, however busy he is, he would still find time to come over to my house. He made good tea and we talked. I could talk to him for hours.
I am a practicing atheist and he is a fideist and we could argue till the cows come home and agree to disagree and meet again the next time and argue. The conflict was obvious. A gay man believing in God!! that too a Christian God !
He often talked about being gay and how it was to live in a country that considers homosexuality as a sin . His family has never accepted the fact that he is gay and chose to ignore that fact. They were busy finding a suitable girl for him , for they believed a marriage to a wonderful and sexy girl would cure him of his homosexuality.
When I whinged and whined about small things, he never complained about how unfair everyone was to him. How he never had a heterosexual male friend.
But what bothered him the most was the exploitation of homosexuality.
JKR had once said Dumbledore is gay and my friend felt betrayed. He said she was looking for cheap publicity.
He knew I write and told me if you are ever going to write about a gay character, have the courage to write it from the beginning, don't insinuate that the character is gay.
I had often wondered how a Malayalee community would accept a gay professor?
How would a professor, a Gandhian live in Kerala if he is gay?
Would he follow his ideologies and lead an ascetic life?
Would he be a closet gay?
Would he have the courage to admit that he is gay?
That is where you will find Prof Johnikutty