Nagpur’s famous choreographer Imran Khan has been a closeted gay for years. While Imran says that it’s been tough and heartbreaking being a homosexual in a small city like Nagpur, his close ones’ unconditional support has made him more confident and forthright about his sexuality. In an exclusive interview with Nation Next, Imran Khan speaks about his initial struggle of trying to be ‘straight’ and how he came out of the closet.
How did you become a choreographer?
Since my school days, I used to dance at certain shows in Nagpur, where an event coordinator Minaz liked my work and gave me an opportunity to work with him as a fashion choreographer. I did my first show for Kalamna Market Urban Society. I got recognition as I performed amazingly well. Thereafter, I started getting regular shows in Nagpur.
Being a homosexual, you might have faced hostility in Nagpur, as we still have a regressive approach towards LGBT community…
How does it matter what people think about me? I’m extremely comfortable with boys and I love to be with them. I don’t give two hoots to what people have to say about my sexual orientation. I’m a trustee of Sarathi Trust in Nagpur, an organisation, which comprises primarily middle class and lower middle class people. All these people appreciate me for my thoughts and they are extremely impressed with my nature and aura. Nothing makes me feel bad about myself or whoever I’m. You should always be the way you are. I’m proud that at least when people look at me, they want to become like me and get motivated because I’m a self-made man, who takes care of his family’s livelihood.
When was the first time you realised that you were a gay?
When I was 16, there was a girl in my life. It was then, when I realised that I was not comfortable with girls. Gradually, I started getting attracted towards men. In fact, I even got an opportunity to date a boy in my college. I still relish my memories of romancing him, kissing him and roaming around with him in the city! We even shared our personal feelings with each other. Whenever he would interact with females, I would get insecure.
I dated a girl with whom I lived in for two years. I tried to change myself; I tried to develop feelings for her but soon I realised that it wasn’t my cup of tea. Never change yourself for the society! I associate myself with boys only. I don’t like girls the way I like boys. I would prefer a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend.
How difficult it was to make your parents understand your situation and emotions? How’s your rapport with them now?
Initially, I was completely unaware of my feelings. People used to physically and morally trouble me by abusing and humiliating. People in my society even tried to do awful things with me. There are few senior citizens and others in my locality, who always try to bully me. Even now, some family friends always crack jokes on me and mock me. People always had a problem with me; they always found me effeminate. I couldn’t come out of my shell due to such incidents.
I told my parents about my sexual orientation as soon as I realised that I was a gay. To my utter surprise, they were extremely supportive and said that I was a jewel in the crown for them. I faced a lot of discrimination from my friends and some other family members. It was the worst feeling ever. At times, they would pass comments on me and would get uncomfortable whenever their kids would interact with me. But now, my parents and I are indifferent towards such behaviour.
How do your close ones, including your friends, react to your sexual orientation?
One should never go against the law of nature. Instead, one should accept what and how he is. Initially, I was extremely embarrassed when I realised that I was a gay. Since this is against the so-called ‘law of society,’ I felt that I was a burden on my family. Things worsened when people started getting sarcastic and insensitive towards me. I made myself feel better by saying, “Imran you are born for a reason.” Today I can proudly say, ‘Maine sath samundar par kiye hai yaha tak pahuchne ke liye.’ (I have crossed seven seas to achieve whatever I have achieved today). All the negative comments were like lessons for me. I feel a sense of pride in myself because I feel it’s not easy for other gays like me to express them so boldly. My close ones love the way I am. They have accepted me with open arms. Now, my sexual orientation doesn’t even bother my peers anymore.
What are the regular challenges you come across as a gay?
There are always two sides of every coin – one is good and the other is bad. I always prefer to go with the bad side because it gives me motivation, energy, power; and that’s my key to success. I believe the more I’m with negative and abusive people, I’ll be a better person. Girls ask their boyfriends to get physical with me thinking that I might help their boyfriends with their careers. I usually get weird messages on Facebook like – ‘Hi Imran are you a gay?’ I reply by saying, ‘yes, I’m a gay’ and then I would say, ‘Ok, tata! Bye!’ I receive many friend requests from closeted gays in Nagpur, on Facebook. There are more than 50,000 gays in Nagpur. Very few out of the 50,000 gays reveal their real identities and I’m one of them and I’m proud of it. I’m never ever ashamed of myself.
People who know me are comfortable with me and the way I’m. The ones who don’t know me have preconceived notions about me. They ask the people around me to stay away from me, so that they don’t get tagged as gays. Then there are people in Nagpur who say that I’m a star and my aura attracts them. This certainly motivates and makes me feel special and different from others. I mostly get positive response. I don’t care about negative response.
What do you have to say about LGBT rights? Do you feel you are an easy target in the society?
Yes, we are an easy target for the society. It’s way too difficult for us to express our emotions and feelings. In fact, it’s even difficult to communicate or spend time with men, for whom we don’t have any feelings. Due to non-abolishment of section 377, we are in a trauma. We are in worst condition. I don’t know why people have problem if two people are comfortable with each other; third person has no right to go and check what’s happening in their room.
Sometimes, when I meet people for work, they behave so absurd and unusual that I feel why am I doing this work? I literally had to beg for work despite being talented. Such behaviour hurts me but I take things in my stride. I feel lonely when people around me pass comments on the way I talk and walk. When I visited few metro cities, I realised that I was not the only one like this. Being a gay is not a crime or a disease.
Did people’s insensitive attitude deter you from chasing your dreams?
Being a Muslim, I had the worst experience during the holy month of Ramadan. People say that mujhe dekh kar logo ka Roza kharab ho jaata hai! (When people see me, their Roza gets spoiled) People’s insensitive behaviour would leave me in tears. People used to look down upon me. I have no qualms about how God has made me. I’m the chosen one and I’m proud of it. With my sheer hard work and dedication I have got an opportunity to work with reputed people in my career so far. I come from a lower middle class family from Chimur (Chandrapur). It was difficult for me to make ends meet. My father is my hero, a gentleman, who deals with brokerage of property.
How do you express your feelings for a man you like?
I love a man’s body, beard, lips, voice… In fact, I like everything that makes a man look attractive. It’s a wonderful feeling to be with another man and making love with him. I don’t get an erection if I touch girls. I get an erection if I touch boys. I’d love to smooch my boyfriend but it’s very difficult for me to think the same for a girl. I can’t describe my feelings but all I can say is that I love men.
Are you in a relationship?
I had a boyfriend who would pamper me a lot by giving me flowers, taking me out for drives, parties and everything that I love to do. I would send my nude pictures to my boyfriend if he ever got angry. We would fight and make love with each other. That’s how we lived.
How do you foresee your future?
I can’t spoil any girl’s life by marrying her. I want to take my choreography career to greater heights. I believe that life will only give you good results when your attitude is positive and you work hard.
I would like to say something to all the people who dislike me:
‘Kya kuch nahi kaha mere bare mein – cheap, vulgar, ghatiya, sexy. Waise bhi kuch logo ka naam unke kaam se hota hai, mera to badnaam hoke hua hai. Dance karaya apne, na kise ne meri mehnat dekhi na lagan. Sab to kuch aur hi dekhne mein lage they. Fir bhi ghatiya main hoon. Yaha sab shareef hai mere alawa. Aap isi tarah apne sharafat ka chola pehne rahiye or main apni dirty pictures banata rahunga!