Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rahul Mehta's Quarantine is a slice of gay life

Rahul Mehta’s brassy debut short story collection Quarantine unravels the lives of openly gay Indian-American men — men who are strident in their sexuality, not hiding in pseudo marriages or behind the guise of bisexuality. However, that doesn’t prevent them from being damaged by the various complexities of life — infidelity, heartburn, shady gigolos, past lovers or small-minded relatives.

On his 21st birthday, Rahul came out to his mother about his sexual preference. Now, years later, was this book his way of coming out to the world? “No, I never thought of this book as a coming out (although, in effect, it is kind of functioning that way when it comes to my relatives in India, who, unlike my relatives in America, don’t know that I’m gay),” says US-based Rahul, who is a lecturer in English at Alfred University. “But that’s certainly not why I wrote the stories. Instead, the book came from a desire to tell stories. In the end, I hope that the stories speak.”

With the camp classic Dostana and the recent Supreme Court ruling, does he see the emergence of a stronger gay-themed genre in Indian pop culture? “I hope so. And I hope that we continue to see more and more realistic representations of LGBT characters rather than reductive stereotypes. I think it’s so important in helping us move toward a more tolerant and socially-just society,” he says.

Full report here DNA

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