Stupid and Irresponsible: The Telegraph's 'checklist' to detect a 'gay husband' is idiotic

Following the suicide of AIIMS anesthetist Priya Vedi - who alleged that her 'gay' husband had mentally tortured her and made her want to take her own life - the most obvious article to write was on other women who were 'trapped' in such marriages. So The Telegraph, like most other publications, lost no time in putting together a story of women who marry homosexual men unknowingly. Among the sources and people they quote is an organisation called Straight Spouse Network, an American organisation which has helped some Indian women cope with marriages to allegedly gay men.

 Stupid and Irresponsible: The Telegraphs checklist to detect a gay husband is idiotic

Image used for representational purposes only. AFP.

The article quotes an Indian woman who had sought help from the Straight Spouse Network when she realised that she had been duped into marrying a gay man. However, the newspaper was not content with reporting on the incident, it decided to help women detect a potential gay partner. So with help from the said network, they came up with a checklist called, "How to find out if your husband is gay."

The sub-head, coloured red, is supposed to be your definitive guide to making sure that you have married a gay man. They list the following signs as potential gay husband spotters:

"You find pop-ups of gay pornography on the computer
He claims that he feels ‘trapped’ in the marriage and won’t explain why
You can’t track his activities
He tells you about sexual abuse in his childhood/adolescence
He admits to having a homosexual encounter in the past
He uses the word ‘bisexual’
He visits gay bars claiming he’s there only to hang out with his gay friend
He watches porn movies with gay male scenes
He makes too many gay comments in conversations"

Though the paper credits the very intelligent suggestions to 'Straight Spouse Network', the pointers must have resonated with them enough for them to publish it. These points sound slightly like those several listicles that arm you with '5 ways to prevent swine flu' or '10 fun things to do with chocolate'. But the assumption is the paper most likely endorses the above-mentioned points.

Now, apart from the fact that the idea behind publishing the pointers is almost alarmist, if not facile and stupid, let's see how accurate they are.

Firstly, your partner is most likely to be gay if you 'cannot track his activities'. Now unless the paper thinks that married men who are gay have teleporting capabilities or possess a replica of Mr India's invisibility watch, making them impossible to be 'tracked', one doesn't know what that sentence even means.

From being stupid and somewhat hilarious, the list quickly graduates to becoming slightly dangerous. In India, it is anyway extremely difficult to talk about child sexual abuse, men and women struggle to first deal with it, there's heavy shroud of taboo around it. Remember Satyamev Jayate? In fact, despite the threat of child sexual abuse looming large, parents in India often choose not to talk to children and teens about it and help them battle sexual predators. When a leading publication makes such an irresponsible association, without bothering to explain it, it just helps such taboos become further entrenched. If talking about child sexual abuse is made equivalent to being a closeted homosexual by a leading national daily, the double whammy of homophobia and stigma around sexual assault will make victims suffer in silence forever.

Then again, apparently, the very mention of the word 'bisexual' should set alarm bells ringing about a man's sexuality. The article suggests that it is impossible to talk about bisexuality  if one is not bisexual himself - which makes almost everyone who has read those pointers aloud either gay or bisexual! That apart, the tone is such that it makes homosexuality and bisexuality seem like evil in themselves. It is important to note here that the it was a gay man's inability to deal with his own sexuality the right way that lead to Vedi's suicide and he is not necessarily the norm.

The list saves the best for the last. You know your man is gay if "he makes too many gay comments in a conversation". Since we are not aware about the sexuality of 'comments' we cannot properly decipher that one for you. Apparently the closeted gay man in a marriage spends much time discussing Varun Dhawan's muscles or K Jo's arch jokes with their spouse. If you have figured out what The Telegraph was trying to say, you can probably also help decipher the mysteries that are the Bermuda Triangle and Kamaal R Khan.

Updated Date: Apr 29, 2015 11:15:25 IST