This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anurag. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Is Being The CEO Of Apple The Only ‘Acceptable’ Way To Be Gay In India?

More from Anurag

By Anurag Choudhary:

Tim Cook.

A few days back, in good humour, I called a (presumably straight) friend ‘gay’. He didn’t laugh and I nearly lost my tooth. We have not been on talking terms since. Interestingly enough, the same day, Tim Cook landed in India. The Apple CEO, and I am not making this up, is the only openly gay CEO amongst Fortune 500 companies.

But, psst, gay people are monsters, right?

They are so wrong and against the human anatomy and a threat to our great Indian culture and against every such blah thing in the dictionary that describes India. When SC upheld Section 377 in 2013, Christian communities, Muslim boards and various Hindu parishads showcased a great deal of our ‘unity in diversity‘ in their celebrations. Quoting one of the leaders, “This is a right decision, we welcome it. Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature and against science. We are regressing, going back to when we were almost like animals. The SC had protected our culture.”

I was nervous ever since Cook announced his visit. Would he meet black flags with ‘Cook go back!’ and ‘Cook you are sick!’ signs at Mumbai Airport? Would his John Laurinaitis (Google alert) like face be pelted with stones and coloured in cow dung (maybe ink)? Would the Mumbai Police be waiting with their giant bellies and long lathis to arrest or deport him from the airport itself?

“Ho Saheb! Des mein ghusne ka nahi! Idhar gay log nhi parvarta!”

Would Indians boycott iPhone?

It was like the journey of a Stark in Westeros. I sniffed blood at some point. Something would go wrong. He mustn’t return to Winterfell (or wherever he came from) alive, right?

Someone would be ticked. One reaction at least. Communal violence (lynching maybe), a hate speech, media channel debates. Something!

But other than a trifling Twitter ho-hum, nothing happened.

To his pluck, Cook even attended a party thrown by Shah Rukh Khan that had Aamir Khan (and his wife) on the guest list. And yet, it all ended well. Everyone came looking pretty and dashing, in their tuxedos and suits and dresses and gowns, ate their food and drank their wine, posed for paparazzi and went home. Not a single incident was reported. No purple wedding. No red wedding.

In 2007, when the Prince of Rajpipla (whose name I don’t remember anymore) came out of the closet, his family along with the entire country, disowned him until he appeared on Oprah Winfrey Show and became famous. And he was a royal queer. I don’t want to imagine what could happen to the middle-class LGBT community. I keep hearing stories about parents locking their sons with maids to ‘cure’ them of their ‘illness’.

And yet, Tim Stark, err, Tim Cook kept corrupting, with great zeal, the soil of our ‘holy land’.

When he was allowed, no, guided into the Siddhivinayak temple, I held my breath and latched my eyes. And, he came out safe and still a proud gay man (unchanged and unchained), with a tilak on his forehead and a smile on his face.

If a Stark survives this long, unscathed, you start losing faith in R.R. Martin.

When he yelled at the Indian staff of Apple in Gurgaon (Guru Gram, whatever) for selling a fake iPhone merchandise which was actually original, I kept my ears close to the scene. Maybe, someone would revert,

“Hey, why don’t you go and see a doctor, you sick, perverted piece of humanity?”

I didn’t hear or read about Karan Johar’s offer to him for ‘Dostana 3’. Even Kapil Sharma, the keeper of regressive ‘comedy’, didn’t go to him with a role of Gutthi’s mother. According to Darwin’s theory, Cook would have been a case of natural selection for all such roles of queers who act like Bobby Darling, look stupid and don’t quite exist in the real world.

I was left perplexed.

There must have been a catch. I must have missed it. Maybe, Indians didn’t know about the Apple CEO being a homosexual. Or maybe, we don’t mind your homosexuality when you are the CEO of Apple Inc.

Featured image shared by All India Radio News on Facebook.

You must be to comment.
  1. MK

    Dude, your article is bit over the top, isn’t it? The powerful are never targeted in this country, let alone a firangi CEO of Apple. While, the essence of your article which celebrates queer culture is beautiful, the message, however, can be called sensationalist. Instead, documenting the gay culture in India’s history, could have been another beautiful approach to send across the message. I will repeat, the powerful are never targeted. Take for example the the persecution of UP autowallahas by MNS. Common man on the street, however, does not have this privilege. Can we do something to common man on the street and make him feel secure about his sexuality? That my friend is the real question.

More from Anurag

Similar Posts

By Devansh Mishra

By Martha Farrell Foundation

By Rohit Malik

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below