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A Letter from a Hindu Gay Man – Hinduism and Gay Relationship

This blog post is a letter sent to this blog by Sreekishen Nair. Hindu Blog strongly believes that sexual minorities have a right to exist respectfully and freely in the Hindu society and therefore we are publishing this wonderful information provided by Sreekishen Nair. Republishing this article on the momentous occasion when Supreme Court of India has decriminalised homosexual sex in India (September 6, 2018).

"Criminalising carnal intercourse under section 377 Indian penal code is irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary,” said the chief justice, Dipak Misra.

I am an openly gay man and a practicing Hindu. I indulge in my religious heritage daily and with gusto. In so doing, I feel no contradiction with my sexual nature. I have never felt the need to leave Hinduism for it, or for any other faith. In saying so Gays had to be confronted with the murderously homophobic harangues of anti-gay activists in India.

India has one of the largest population of Gay people in the world. There is nothing in Hindu scriptures that bars Gay Relationship.

Despite vocal animosity in India against gays, as a Hindu I prefer to ‘stay with the ship’ of my own religious background, mainly because I do Love so much about Hinduism. But also, in part to remind other Hindus that we gay Hindus DO exist, and that we have existed for centuries.

More importantly, I do feel that there are many venues within the Hindu universe which happily accommodate gay people.

For example, the legendary births of deities like Ayyappan, or heroes like Bali and Sugriva, all speak of homoerotic encounters among the gods. There is really no two ways around it; that is just how the stories come down to us. And those stories see the homoerotic at least as natural enough for the gods to participate in it.

Additionally, gay people have always played important ceremonial roles in the traditions of deities like Angala Parameshwari, Bahuchariamma, Mariyamma, Vadaku Vasal Celliyamma and Bhadra Kaali Amman. In fact, many of the small, wayside temples for these Goddesses have Pujaris that are either Transgender or Gay.

The seasonal festival of Lord Kuthandavar-Aravan in the town of Koovagam (South Arcot, Tamil Nadu) has served as something like a rural Gay Pride parade in India. Gay men from all over India come to wed themselves to this deity, who was originally the bride-groom of Lord Vishnu as Mohini.

In sharp contrast even to the more worldly people in India's cities, at least the villagers in Koovagam have a refreshingly open appreciation of diversity.

Temples like Koovagam, Kotankulangara and Valliyoorkavu (whose deity is said to have married her sister goddess at Cherukathoorkavu) all speak to the persistence of same-sex love in India's religious heritage. How much that heritage is censored and edited by reactionary elements in India today is another matter.

But the facts remain the same. Like so many other existential realizations, the gay experience is embedded in our stories, our art and in our theological frameworks. Hinduism encompasses many viewpoints: vegetarian, meat-eating, pastoral, urban, forest-dwelling, polytheistic, monotheistic, pantheistic, atheistic, domestic, itinerant, sexually-indulgent, celibate, contemplative, Dionysian, asexual, heterosexual, and yes, EVEN homosexual.

How can it be otherwise? India has been home to countless multi-cultural, multi-lingual and cosmopolitan societies for millenia. To assume that there had been no openly gay people in all that history is absurd. In fact, gay people have been and continue to be very active contributors to the religious community as a whole; a random visit to Mel Malaiyanur might make that clear.

Written by Sreekishen Nair