Bollywood director, producer and friend to the stars, Karan Johar, has a new autobiography coming out called An Unsuitable Boy (the title is a play on the title of the famous novel, A Suitable Boy- which is about marriage etc- by Vikram Seth, who is also gay). Karan has been living in the world's biggest glass closet for a while now- mostly everyone (celebs and the common public) knows he's gay, he has never said he is straight, he has often hinted at the difficulties in his childhood arising out of his effeminacy, and most of all, he allows asshole straight celebs on his show to constantly allude to his homosexuality through very tired jokes. Yet, he has not come out unlike a few other public figures in India. He has been playing this coy game now where he does not hide his sexuality but also refuses to come out. He had previously written about his issues and inhibitions regarding sex.
In his most direct statement yet, he discusses his sexuality, the rumors about him and SRK and homophobia in India. Some quotes:
About people who expect him to say those three words: “Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don’t need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won’t only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this… The reason I don’t say it out aloud is simply that I don’t want to be dealing with the FIRs. I’m very sorry. I have a job, I have a commitment to my company, to my people who work for me; there are over a hundred people that I’m answerable to. I’m not going to sit in the courts because of ridiculous, completely bigoted individuals who have no education, no intelligence.”
About homophobia in India, where Section 377 makes 'unnatural' sex illegal and punishable by law: “I have become like the poster boy of homosexuality in this country. But honestly, I have no problem with people saying what they want about me. Twitter has the most abuse. I wake up to at least 200 hate posts saying, ‘Get out, you’re polluting our nation, you’re dirtying society’ or ‘Shove [IPC Section] 377 up your arse.’ I get this on a daily basis and I’ve learned to laugh it off. One man came up to me once very cockily at Heathrow airport and said, ‘Is it true that you are a homo?’ He was with his wife and child, and he asked me this. I looked at him and said, ‘Why, are you interested?’ And he said, ‘Hey, what-what what!’ And I said, ‘Don’t what-what me.’ And I walked out.”
He is angry about those people who speculate that he and SRK are in a relationship because he considers SRK as an elder brother and mentor and feels disgusted by the insinuation that he would want to sleep with someone who he considers his brother.
The reactions to Karan's statements have been mixed- some public figures have voiced their support while others are ambivalent about the message Karan's stance will give to many gay people in India. Screenwriter Apurva Asrani (Aligarh) makes some very valid points about the problems in Karan's statement in this piece, especially about how his elite position in society will protect him from being dragged to court/arrested for being gay. Many others have stressed the importance that the coming out of such a famous celebrity will have on India's LGBTQ community. But it often feels hard to call out Karan on his hypocrisy when this is the shit that is thrown at him by trash users on twitter.
@karanjohar Are you a gay? I'm ready to lay if you launch me— Indian Sherlock (@SanghiSherlock) January 11, 2017
The guy went on a rant with other gems like, "Yes, I can understand. A gay can only feel comfortable with gay. That's why SRK compliments him."
377 is a complicated piece of legislation- Asrani is right: you cannot be arrested for saying you are gay but unfortunately it is not so simple. I think he fears he could be blackmailed or humiliated by others. So even if it may not result in imprisonment, the law casts a long shadow and causes emotional pressure, maybe even to someone as privileged as Karan. I hope he comes out in his own pace...this really sucks.