Monday, June 12, 2006

On Sunday we attended a Gay Bombay meet on long term relationships. We were amongst the 10 couples who formed an informal panel and who were supposed to discuss relationships, answer questions, dispel myths & validate facts.

We reached there on time along with another close friend who is single. The turn out was huge compared to the GB meets in the past. More than 80 people were cramped in a small banquet hall (some 20 x 40 feet large); this is commendable when the average presence at such meets is 20-25. The turn out is huge usually for GB parties and Film Fests, where the number of people could be anywhere between 150-200.

I entered the hall without my partner (he was parking his bag in our friend's car) and was scared witless at seeing so many people sitting in a circular fashion and all of them staring at me. To worsen things for me, the moderator of the meet called me by name and showed me to my seat to one side of the room where other couples were sitting. My partner followed in soon and I gained some composure.

The couples ranged between 25 years to 1 year or relationship. The oldest couple had met at workplace and since then they have been living together.

The meet started with defining the term "relationship". There were different opinions and the definition to which most ascribed was " a relationship is one in which two consenting adults come together and accept each other as the person they need most and want to live with." There was a guy who talked about his 'relationship' with a Ahmedabad based married guy. This fellow in Mumbai got in touch with the other fellow and they became a couple of sorts, wherein the married fellow looking for emotional and sexual support and used to come down once a month and they used to spend few hours together. Then the married fellow started keeping distance after he realised that his 'emotional & sexual support' is becoming more and more "clingy". This guy in Mumbai is very much in love with him and asked if this could be termed as a relationship. There were several responses to this, ranging from "yes, as long as you think it is and you are deriving some happiness out of it" to "no, it can not be termed as a relationship because the other partner is not ready to commit and is
actually distancing himself." People asked him to move on and leave behind this relationship which was termed as a "destructive relationship".

We talked about age differences between partners and it was concluded that age hardly matters if there is emotional maturity or equality between partners.

Then came the issue of 'working things in a relationship'. The word 'compromise' was corrected to 'adjustments' that both the partners have to make for a relationship to work. Career vs relationship also came up as a vital point. Vikram mentioned some statistics wherein Career was termed as one of the major reason for break-ups in gay relationships. Our example was talked about, where one partner is doing well and the other is struggling and wants to return to his country. I have serious doubts about moving to Canada. At the same time my trip to Germany convinced me about one thing - life in general is easier in a developed country. There was another fellow who recounted his experience with his Australian boyfriend and how the two of them juggled careers, changed countries in order to be together. What do you do when you have to choose between a flourishing career and a flourishing relationship? When does it become clear that partnership in life is more precious that partnership in the firm? When is too early to choose between the two?

We also discussed open & closed relationships. I voiced my opinion too - I rubbished the concept of categorising the relationship on the basis of sex. Sex is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship. Ask me, there are so many other things a relationship gives you, so many other issues that are there to deal with. I know one thing for sure that for an open relationship to work, both the partners have to be absolutely mature and free of any insecurities about the relationship. It is not everyone's cup of tea. Come to look at it, for any relationship to work maturity and freedom from insecurity are key players.

On the subject of insecurity, there was this cute couple, 4 months into their relationship; one of the partners was insecure about other's comfort with his sexuality. He was counselled to give his partner some time to grow accustomed to being gay and being in a relationship and the other partner was asked to constantly reassure his partner. At this point a cute young fellow ( he reminded me of someone) mentioned his boyfriend, who is deep in a closet and is imposing his predicament on him too. This guy is not allowed to attend such meets, parties or fests and stay away from anything and everything that might incriminate him. He was suggested to wait for some more time and then try reaching a middle ground, cause otherwise things wont work out for him as well as it should.

I forgot to mention that the gathering was divided on the subject of sex. If the sex is the only part that is not great about a particular relationship then sex can be worked upon. Others believed that if sex is great then other things in a relationship can be worked upon. There were more who believed in the first scenario.

Insecurities in relationship was the last of the topics to be discussed. We left the venue immediately after that and came back home.


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