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Even with sufficient funding from numerous sources and despite thousands of face-to-face contacts a month through Humsafar’s well-trained gay staff there are thousands more who avoid contact or are hidden from view among illiterate, socially isolated or closeted people in denial.
(40% of India’s population is under 18, unmarried and at risk for secret unsafe sex).
The task of finding them was made easier for me by Delhi-based Ashok Row Kavi, one of India’s leading activists and gay ‘godfather’ to many. (Ashok is currently based in Delhi where he works for UNAIDS.) During my stay I was fortunate to visit organizations, individuals, and a busload of queers out for a daylong trip.
(A) Humsafar Trust Being homosexual in India is a curse that is made easier or worse by the choices one makes to live in fear of it (being exposed) or build a life to include it.
A serious yet gently playful man in his forties he as been with Humsafar for 12 years as one of its founders.
The same can be said about homosexuality: there is no scene and there is an extensive network; there is no gay life and there is much gay energy; gay people hide in shadows and they gather to celebrate their lives and protest in public rallies.
India is a country with a billion people on a triangular plate of land nearly 1800 miles in both directions fractured into 21 huge and widely different states each with dozens of million-plus citizens.
As the disease has spread beyond the gay community to all populations, the backbone of the health work is still strengthened by the presence of countless dedicated LGBT people.
In this ‘story’ about gay India there are four stories: Bombay, Chennai (Madras), Hyderabad and Bangalore, each with a gay sub-culture that is to a greater or lesser degree entwined with HIV services.