Towards an Indian Gay Image, Lake Pichola, Udaipur, 1983 By Sunil Gupta
A normalized gaze towards Queer romance in a bid for inclusiveness
When photographer Sunil Gupta returned to India from England in the 1980s, he saw all around him “gay men living in plain sight but completely hidden from mainstream society”.His series ‘Towards an Indian Gay Image’ captures his dilemma: how do you document this reality while still ensuring that your subjects remain invisible? Gupta once said, “The last thing they wanted me to do was make photographs of them and publish them somewhere.” His picture from Udaipur is thus also a solution. Though we can’t see the faces of the men in this picture, it’s their gait which tells a story of affection. The man in black stands the way cocksure Amitabh Bach-chan did in the 1970s, while the one in white seems expectant, almost uncertain. Couples have had themselves clicked next to Lake Pichola for years now, but Gupta’s breathtaking photograph first subverts our hetero-normative expectations. It shows that gay love can be simpler than how we imagine it, and that prejudice, like Pichola, is all man-made.