Okay, could I fly to India on January 15th, buy An Unsuitable Boy in the airport, and then fly home immediately? That would be a reasonable expense, right? It’s not supposed to come out in America until March last I saw, and I am going to DIE! Especially now that excerpts have started being printed. And they are SO GOOD.
Times of India has an extended excerpt. You can go here to read the full thing. It’s about his sexuality, because of course that’s what people care about the most. And it’s mostly stuff we already knew (if you’ve been paying attention and have common sense and empathy).
He’s not going to come out of the closet because it’s nobody’s business. He had a hard time growing up and coming to terms with sex and stuff like that. And he wishes he wasn’t the butt of everyone’s jokes and they felt the right to constantly talk about his personal business. Fine, we could have guessed that from the way he shuts down interviews when they bring up his personal life. From his open discussion of how uncomfortable he felt with his body and in his body until he lost the weight post-Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. And from basic human empathy, who would want to be the constant butt of meanspirited jokes?
I have some opinions about the jokes he has to put up with, because of course there are plenty of jokes he makes himself. But, see, there are jokes and there are jokes. And one thing I think Karan has been wonderful for India is teaching them the right and wrong way to make these jokes. Jokes about dating various men, fine. Jokes about being super wild and sexual, fine. Jokes that make it seem like merely having a particular sexual orientation is something shameful or titillating, NOT OKAY. And talking about Karan’s personal life in a way that takes these jokes seriously, NOT OKAY. Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he is actually having wild one night stands all the time, or that he makes every new young actor sleep with him. Any more than Emraan Hashmi being straight means he is actually constantly having one night stands. The jokes are funny because they are clearly not true. But we should still be making them, because we have to learn to laugh at things in order to treat them as commonplace. And I love the way Karan has used his talk show and his movies to encourage the celebrities of India to publically laugh about same sex relationships and the casting couch and all of these secret things that no one ever talks about. But I hate the way people take his jokes “seriously”.
That’s the excerpt that jumped out at me the most, not the part where he talks about his sexual history (again, common sense could have told us that), but when he talks about what really bothers him in the public abuse he has to take. It’s not the 200 twitter abuses he wakes up to, or the strangers coming up and asking him about his sexuality. It’s what it has done to his friends, and his relationships with them.
For heaven’s sake, for years there were rumours about Shah Rukh and me. And I was traumatised by it. I was on a show on a Hindi channel, and I was asked about Shah Rukh.’Yeh anoka rishta hai aap ka,’ the interviewer said. He worded it in such a way that I got really angry. I said, ‘If I asked you if you are sleeping with your brother, how will you feel?’ So he said, `What do you mean? How can you ask me this question?’ I said, ‘How could you ask me this question?
For me, no matter what ups and downs Shah Rukh and I have been through, he is a father figure, an older brother to me. For me to look at him in that way or be subjected to those rumours was just ridiculous. But it didn’t bother him. He said, ‘People talk nonsense, and if a man does not have an extramarital affair, he is supposed to be gay.’
I get scared of being spotted with any single man now because I think they are going to think that I am sleeping with him.
That was a new thought to me. The truth that Karan has to live with that just by being who he is, he has become toxic to everyone he loves. And that this toxin will always be a part of their relationship. How sad! And how lonely. And how loving, that Karan is so concerned about the pain he might cause his friends, and that his friends are willing to reassure him and stand by him no matter what.
As to why he doesn’t come out, he puts it very succinctly at the end of the excerpt in a way I hope people take to heart:
The reason I don’t say it out aloud is simply that I don’t want to be dealing with the FIRs. I’m very sorry. I have a job, I have a commitment to my company, to my people who work for me; there are over a hundred people that I’m answerable to. I’m not going to sit in the courts because of ridiculous, completely bigoted individuals who have no education, no intelligence, who go into some kind of rapture for publicity. I’ve reached a point in my life where I am not going to conform to what people think I should be saying or doing…So if you have an opinion about my sexuality, then screw you. I don’t care.
I hope people, not the “ridiculous, completely bigoted individuals who have no education, no intelligence” types he is mentioning, but the progressives, I hope they read this and understand it. That is who he is talking to after all, the ones who will buy an English language autobiography of Karan Johar. I hope they back off him and let him live his life and break boundaries the way he wants to, not the way they think he should, because he is right, he already has a job, he has responsibilities, he can’t give up his life to fight this battle on every battlefield.
But there is another message I feel like he is giving here which I really really hope people see. If you want him to come out officially, if you want everybody to come out, if you think people should be more open and more aggressive and stop hiding, then make sure they don’t have to deal with the freaking FIRs! The problem isn’t that Karan Johar won’t come out of the closet. The problem is the law which would get him arrested if he did. If you care about this issue, if you want to do something useful, then leave Karan alone and go out and fight to get the law overturned. Again.