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Sex, truth and videotape August 28, 2007

Posted by humsafar in 68 pages, film on HIV/AIDS, humsafar trust, indian express 68 pages.
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Sex, truth and videotape
– Georgina Maddox

Two boys meet, date, fall in love (and lust) and then, there is the all-important shot where one of the lovers reaches for the rubber. The underlying public service message, of having safe sex, cannot be missed. Almost every queer film that has made it to a multiplex or film festival, not only gets its funding but a good rating at the marquee, when HIV is the agenda. While this reinforces the link between queer and HIV/ AIDS, it seems to be the need of the hour.

From Onir’s sleeper hit My Brother Nikhil to Ashish Sawhny’s Happy Hookers and most recently 68 Pages, a film by Shridhar Rangayan (his Gulabi Aaina also had the protagonist deal with HIV), the message seems to be the same.

Ashok Row Kavi, founder of the Humsafar Trust, believes it to be a complex situation. “Men who have sex with men (MSM) and Trans-genders (TG) are most vulnerable, ” he says.

Vickram, of Gay Bombay, says cinema is an influential tool. “Condom should be shown in any gay sex scene in films,” he says. “At the risk of stereotyping, its okay to propagate HIV awareness .”

A telling scene is in Sawhny’s Happy Hookers, where a young gay sex worker talks about pleasing his client without a condom. The 22-year-old worker has only seen HIV campaigns for heterosexual couples and believes he’s not at risk.

Kavi says that several factors pressure MSM into unsafe sex. Gay married men operate underground, cross-dressers are open to stigma, some sex workers under caste pressure are criminalised and stigmatised.

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