New Delhi, Dec 27 IANS | 2 years ago

My poems trace a journey of years of silence and repression, and experience of coming out of closet and finding love, says gay-rights activist Shaleen Rakesh on his collection of poems that are a reflection of his personal life.

"The Lion and the Antler" is a compilation of over 100 small poems about solitude, beginning of a love affair, internal conflicts, acceptance and longing.

"These poems are a record of different phases of my life. From my early depressing period where I was struggling with my identity and yearning to do something... to a phase where I started talking openly about desire," Rakesh, who works as director at HIV/AIDS Alliance, told IANS.

"Unfortunately, your expression of desire is always feared," he added.

As the 43-year-old has chosen poems over prose, he sees this medium offering a broader canvas for expressing emotions.

"Poetry allows me to be abstract or concrete. It gives a broader landscape and a larger picture. It depends how you see it," he said.

He to is disappointed with the Supreme Court's judgment upholding Section 377 of the India Penal Court that criminalises same-gender sexual relations.

He fears people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community won't come out of closet.

"There is no secret here. We are still struggling to find acceptance amongst mainstream people. This is why people fear to come out, such is the stigma," he said.

"No one from Bollywood or fashion industry has come out and accepted their sexuality. It is just a few of us doing it, we need more voice," he added.

Rakesh doesn't shy away from mentioning how the poem "The Beginning" is based on his "first love".

"It was a special experience to meet my partner at Connaught Place. It was like flowering of a dream or a desire. Love is beautiful, so why shy away from admitting it?" he said.

(Posted on 27-12-2013)