Disclaimer: If you are a kid reading this, close this and watch Shin Chan. If you are an adult prude reading this, close this and watch Shin Chan 🙂
A lot of young people come to endocrinologists with hormonal issues. Some of them turn out to be interesting cases. Very few change your world view.
Today I had an interesting discussion with a fellow Endocrinologist. Apparently the number of homosexuals he saw has increased. That seemed unusual and disturbing. What might account for this? Is this a kind of referral bias? Initially I thought this must be because of the decriminalization of homosexuality – the infamous article 377 A. So it is conceivable that a lot of closet homos were revealing their orientation to the world. This is similar to the early detection hypothesis for many common chronic diseases. As in the chronic diseases , there is more to the story.
The endocrinologist told me about the story of some immigrants to Chennai. These men earned around 15000 rupees or less per month. After their monthly expenses, they had hardly any money left to splurge on entertainment. Perhaps they could afford a cigarette or two. These sexually frustrated young men couldn’t afford a girl friend. Nor could they get married, as even the peers in their own companies state categorically that they would never marry these low ballers. It is a known fact that money plays a major role in marriages. Being an underpaid male immigrant to a city is perhaps the least enviable position one can be in.
These men found themselves in a world of Tinder, but could not partake in it.Left with no other option, they found intimacy with their equally frustrated room mates. A form of situational homosexuality. While situational homosexuality is well known in prisons, barracks and other places where access to the preferred gender is absent, it is virtually unknown among free dwelling people. This form of acquired homosexuality doesn’t always stem from a lack of options.
Were these men bisexuals and were identifying as heterosexuals forced into homosexuality ? This is possible because of the heteronormative environment we live in. I wondered whether they tell the doctor this story to earn a victim tag. However, the story was consistent among men who had never met. May be they were telling the truth. They find themselves trapped in a urban prison of their own making and indulge in high risk behaviour. I can no longer see the lodges and the mansions that dot the city landscape in the same way ever again.
I turned to PubMed as usual to see if this has been reported before. I could find a study of homosexual behaviour among Indian men and was shocked to see that only 26% had homosexual tendencies ! This means that vast majority of homosexuals were opportunistic homosexuals /’acquired’ homos. This is exactly the opposite of what is found in the west. The westerners don’t turn to homosexuality because of poverty/lack of heterosexual options.
What does all this have to do with medicine? Because many homosexuals in India aren’t the ‘natural’ ones – at least according to published literature and anecdotal reports, there is perhaps a window of opportunity. Reorientation may well be a reality in some of these cases. (This is a politically thorny issue in the west, but no so much in India). It also means that the traditional conservative fears in the US and other countries aren’t too far fetched – exposure to media/movies/literature that tend to normalize homosexuality can potentially have a tremendous impact on impressionable minds.
How many of these men continue to remain homosexual throughout their lives? Unfortunately we don’t have Indian data on this. Klein sexual orientation grid can be filled up for each of these people and they need to be followed up over a long period of time. In the mean time, these men need to told about the perils they are putting themselves in and should be counseled appropriately.
Sexuality is not set in stone as many of us like to believe. It is more malleable than we care to admit. It is time to realize that there is a rich poor divide even in sexuality – the rich identify in their social media profiles as sapiosexuals, some poor are -well for want of a better word – facultative sexuals.