Queer activist Maninderjit Singh reviews Aniruddha Mahale’s new book, calls it roadmap for those who enter the complex dating world of India’s LGBTQiA+
Aniruddha Mahale’s new book is a breath of fresh air. Right at the start, he makes one thing clear: The book is no easy pass to find one’s place in the queer dating scape. As a fellow queer, I could relate to Get Out: The Gay Man’s Guide to Coming and Going Out! (HarperCollins India), at least in parts.
Mahale, a former TedX speaker, also runs The Guysexual—a portal on queer culture in the desi landscape. His dive into the world of technology appears wise in the book when it helps lay bare the complexities of modern-queer dating. He begins by mentioning how technology and globalisation have helped queer folks worldwide find love from the comfort of their high-rise workplaces, apartments, and closets. He lists various dating-friendly applications—from Grindr to Tinder to Recon, and how one can negotiate these spaces. For old-school folks, there are maps to wedding parties and social dos.
Upon close inspection, it is apparent that class, caste, and privilege divide queer individuals in every corner of the world. As the book progresses, Mahale makes sure that his readers, irrespective of their gender, know about the struggles, both personal and worldly, of the LGBTQiA+ today. In a world driven by material and privilege, it is rare to have lasting relationships, to expect and commit. Queer relationships are even more complex.
His and his subjects’ experiences testify to the uncertainty that almost every queer relationship is wrapped in. The writer deserves all praises for speaking so candidly about his adventures (or misadventures). The accounts are bittersweet, and touch upon the looming sense of isolation that is every queer individual’s life on the whole.
There are moments when the book feels like a catalogue of a five-star private suite. As a reader living in the reasonably conservative state of Punjab, I feel that dating the author and his characters can never be the norm here. It may be a distant dream that may never come true. Fortunately for me, I had the support of my dear friend, screenwriter Gazal Dhaliwal (Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and Mismatched fame) who taught me to be resilient and forgiving, and continue to live in the face of odds. It’s not the case for everyone in small towns. In that way, the book is elitist; I wish the author had taken a deeper dive.
I personally loved the lasting message of the book—that although romantic love is important, we must take stock of how much love we already have, even if it is not the romantic kind. The quirky language of the book makes it a fun and essential read. The book is likely to put queer readers at ease.
Maninderjit Singh is a queer activist from Punjab. The author is a part-time English teacher from Punjab. He has a Masters in English from Punjabi University, Patiala
WHAT: Get Out: The Gay Man’s Guide to Coming and Going Out! by Aniruddha Mahale
WHERE: All leading bookstores
PRICE: Rs 459