In his autobiography An Unsuitable Boy Karan Johar has discussed his sexuality but refused to come out of the closet to actually say he’s gay.Gay activists have hooted this ‘safe’ attitude.They feel more celebrities need to come in the open about their homosexuality.
Says film-editor, writer and filmmaker Apurva Asrani, “Of course more people need to come out. We can’t fight 377 from dark closets. Karan is almost an out-gay man. Has it negatively affected his career?I think he is more successful today than he ever was. We need to remove this fear of being ourselves, as the fear is mostly in our heads. You are respected much more for being honest, and you have less to fear when you hide less.And yes, if someone wants to stay closeted, they have every right to.”
Point out to him that George Michael’s career suffered when he came out of the closet and Apurva shoots back, “He didn’t ‘come out’. He was ‘caught out’. Big difference.”
Filmmaker Onir, on the other hand, thinks gay celebrities need to exercise their choice to remain in the closet. “I think there is undue pressure on the entertainment industry … I think sports men … Other role models need to actively participate in human rights I believe and respect that every individual has the right to decide how much of ones private life one is willing to make public.”
Onir explains why he is the only selfadmitted gay filmmaker in Bollywood . “My being open was not a compulsion .It was not even a choice .I just happened to be open.As a film maker and an individual I have grown to find positivity in people and their acts.”
Speaking about Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh and Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons, the two recent films which dealt with homosexuality maturely, Onir says, “I think both the films in their own way are important .Aligarh may be a much more difficult film . But all of it will add to the movement towards equal rights. For me they are progressive films that makes one hope . Creatively I might have differences with the way the two films projected the gay characters.But I respect their representation.”
Gay activist actress Celina Jaitley feels homosexuality is an issue that needs to be addressed on a broader platform that Bollywood celebrities coming out of the closet . “I don’t think coming out in our industry is an issue any more. Yes, there is homophobia, as there is in any industry. People who worry the most would be those up for leading male or female parts, where the audience is wanting to identify with and follow the story of those people.I think people who are not actors but from other aspects of the film industry have less to worry about their image.”
Celina is more concerned the isolation of the non-celebrity homosexual and how celebrities can help their cause. “In today’s more tolerant age, there are many lonely people out there still afraid to reveal who they really are for fear of marginalisation and abuse.But people with influential platforms have an ethical responsibility and even though “coming out” is such a personal and sensitive issue for an individual,there’s no doubt that in doing so, they do provide support for young gay people and hence whenever they are ready must try to set an example.”