BEING MSM ….
(Issues and challenges faced by the MSM)
SEEMA GREWAL (Presenter) M.A. (prev.) 2nd Semester
• To identify the issues and challenges faced by MSM (men who have sex with men). • To understand their socio-cultural aspects of life.
• To find out the stigma and discrimination faced by them. • To gauge their economic and livelihood issues.
• To understand the identity issues as sexual minority. • To appraise their future plans.
“ Kahte hai ki bagvaan jo karte hai acche k liye hi karte hai, phir kyu unhone hame aisa banaya ki unhi k samaj me jene padti hai hame dohari jindagi , sharer ladke ka aur atma ladki ki” (As everyone says whatever happens, happens for the good. Then why we have to live a dual life in this society for no fault of us. God made our bodies like boys and soul like girls.), said an inquiring Soniya (Sonu), when I asked him how it feels to be a MSM.
MSM, an acronym used for men who have sex with men; generic reference to the same sex sexual conducts between men, which may or may not imply gay identity or emotional attractions. This term gained popularity during the anti HIV/AIDS campaign that focused more on sexual behavior than sexual orientation. People often have misconception that MSM and gays are same.
Gays, the adjective used to describe someone whose stable physical, romantic, emotional or spiritual attractions are to the same sex. In contemporary contexts gay is often a preferred term for men and lesbian for women.
In this paper, ‘MSM’ refers to a sexual identity while otherwise it refers to a behavioral category. MSMs due to their sexual behavior experience marginalization and stereotyping in their everyday life. There is a constant uncertainty regarding whether they will receive acceptance in family, friends, colleagues, services and educational institutions. While MSMs are as diverse as the rest of the population still they are discriminated in the society. Here the question arises that why heterosexuality is regarded as the most acceptable sexual orientation and homosexuality is NOT?
There was a time when homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness, however, with advent of more scientific enquiry, it has become a past. Since the 1970s, the consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions has moved to believe that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexual orientation. Gender, race and caste all relate to what a person is, whereas homosexuality relates to what a person does. Indian society is still hesitant and largely conservative which makes it hard for homosexuals to ‘come out of the closet’. Due to the pressure and various other reasons, they leave their homes and families. In recent years, the prejudice has decreased and homosexuals have felt more comfortable being themselves. The worldwide legal acceptance and the organizations which support homosexuality, help them to gain independent recognition for themselves. It also gives them a platform to boldly come out and talk about their sexual preferences.
Brief review of literature
Introductory remarks about Homosexuality
The shift in the understanding of homosexuality from sin, crime and pathology to a normal variant of human sexuality occurred in the late 20th century. The American Psychiatric Association, in 1973, and the World Health Organization, in 1992, officially accepted its normal variant status. Many countries have since decriminalized homosexual behavior and some have recognized same-sex civil unions and marriage. The new understanding was based on studies that documented a high prevalence of same-sex feelings and behavior in men and women, its prevalence across cultures and among almost all non-human primate species....
References: Tiwari, Nityanand , Homosexuality in India, retrieved on March 19, 2013 from www.ssrn.com.
Joseph, Sherry. 2005. Social work practice and Men who have sex with men
Pope. Barret. Rankins. Wierzalis. Gay Men and Aging.
DART, Khanpur, New Delhi
Pinki (Bhano Singh) is a 35 year old man. He introduces himself as a girl and keeps changing his name, from Chandani, Chandramukhi, Sweety or Pooja to now Pinki. He is basically from Azamgarh, U.P. and has been living in Delhi since last 17-18 years. He used to work as a carpenter in a furniture showroom, but now has started his own shop on the roof of his rented house where he lives with his brother. He shared that feminine qualities prevailed in him from childhood and his homosexual nature lies on the ground of his feminine nature. He is into sex work since last 15 years. He works as carpenter in the day and at night gets ready like a girl and goes for Sex work. His family does not know anything about it and want him to get married, but he do not want to marry a girl and spoil her life. He sends 70% of his monthly income to his family and supports his younger brother’s education back home. He told that he has faced many financial crises in his childhood but does not want his family to suffer any more. He earns 1000-1500 every night from sex work, 100-200 per encounter. He is aware of HIV/AIDS and use condoms with all his clients except 2-3 who are his permanent clients. He told about his love life and future plans that he is deeply in love with his cousin who is married and has kids. He shares a physical relationship with him and is happy with the thought that in old age his cousin and his kids will take care of him.
Renu (Ramesh) 34 is the second of all the siblings, the elder and younger being sisters. He always loved to behave like a girl. He used to do feminine part of the house from the very childhood and this is how he guesses he developed feminine qualities in himself despite having a male body. Both his sisters are married and his family pressurizes him to get married as he is the only son, but he is homosexual and do not want to marry a girl and spoil her life. He has his fixed male partners and during an encounter he plays the role of a koti (the wife). He was born in Delhi and has been living here since then. He shared his first sexual experience, that he was raped by his teacher in the school. He did not share this incidence with anyone neither in school nor at home. He liked to play with the neighborhood girls and all the boys used to tease her.
Now he is living a dual life. He dress up and try to behave like a boy/man at home and when he is out, he dress up like girls/women. He discussed his problems that he has to remain conscious all the time, if anyone recognizes him, being dressed up like a girl. He shared one incident when he was coming back home and forgot to put off the kajal he was wearing. From the door of the home he ran back, washed his face and then he entered his house. People in the neighborhood abuse him and tease him for the way he walks and move his hands. He earlier used to go with hijra for badhali/toil but now works as a outreach worker with a NGO. Regarding his future plans, he told that everyone is forcing him to get married, so maybe he will marry a girl just to protect the honor of the family.
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