India's Online Gays, Pacific News Service

| December 11, 2002 Issue

In a country where gay sex is considered a criminal activity, India's gays have adopted the Internet as the safest meeting place. At least 1,500 people participate in gay online groups as a way to access gay material and connect with other gay men while still remaining anonymous. Most mid-sized cities have their own gay online group, but Bombay's Humsafar Trust has gone a bit further, creating their own drop-in center and publishing their own magazine. Ashok Row Kavi, the group's founder, says that the Internet is good for passing on information at the speed of light, but he worries that Web interaction is a lazy activist's dream, and that the sites allow society to postpone dealing with gay acceptance. In fact, there is a wider fear that online groups will enable gays to never have to come out of the closet to their families and society if they can meet one another and sustain their gay self-identity on the Web. They continue to live in the closet, only now it's a huge virtual closet.
--Nick Garafola

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