It’s hard to describe what came over me when I saw the story that Karan Johar was reportedly engaged. I initially laughed for quite a while, just at the thought of Karan Johar being romantic with a girl. It sounds trivial now, almost immature, to have that kind of reaction.
I was mad and in awe all in the same breath. I immediately starting searching the internet for some more news on the subject, hoping to find solid evidence that it wasn’t true. A few minutes later, my dad randomly brought it up out of nowhere.
“Did you hear Karan Johar is engaged?”
I laughed out loud once again. I started to say something, but couldn’t finish. “ I—I—I—can’t even believe that. I mean, come on, we all know he’s gay.”
My dad responded, “That’s what you all say…” as if it was our fault for forcing the image of this unimaginable lifestyle onto a celebrity.
It was in that moment of my dad’s judgment almost brimming with a hint of glee, that I realized why I had such mixed feelings. Karan Johar, in all seriousness, had become a weird sort of gay icon in the Gaysi world. Even without coming out, it seemed like he was the prime example of someone who could live their dreams and be successful, and that his sexuality didn’t have to define him. I know I would have been one of the first of many in line to congratulate Karan if and when he did come out, and maybe as Gaysis, we really do need him to come out, if that is something he feels is right for him (or even applies to him at all). But this kind of news, it sort of broke my heart in a tiny way. It made me believe that if Karan Johar really is gay, he not only won’t come out, he’d actually go out of his way to silence the rumors and judgment of millions of people by pretending to be straight… as if being gay is something to hide and be ashamed of, even if your success and talent would shut the world’s gossiping mouth in a second.
As a Gaysi, I know I struggle to find popular Gaysi celebrities or idols to look up to. It would be great to know that in our intricate world of tradition, culture, and strict values, someone dared to stand up for themselves and come out. It would be liberating to look up to someone and say to ourselves that if they could do it, if they could risk what they have to be true to themselves, anyone could. It would mean that our family and friends could see firsthand that someone’s talents and passions, and success shouldn’t, and aren’t, hindered by a personal detail like sexual orientation.
In Bollywood or in the Indian subcontinent at large, there really aren’t many (if any at all) popular gay idols. In my head, I logically understand the reasons behind this are far deeper than a superficial explanation like none of them could possibly be gay at all. But beyond this, it just reinforces a negative connotation for all Gaysis growing up in and around this culture that being gay isn’t something to be shared or proud of or normal.
I think whether or not Karan Johar marries a girl, at the end of the day the most important fact will be whether he is happy with who he is and who he projects himself to be. I hope that one day the Gaysi community can come together to support an idol of our own.