The Turn

Sunil Gupta in conversation with Saleem Kidwai in Gupta's Queer, (Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2011)

SK: What about gay politics in NY?

SG: It had become purely gay. It was 1976, post-Stonewall and before AIDS. Everything was about hedonism and that was great. It was like the whole liberationist sexual politics had come to life. Everybody appeared to be practicing it.

SK: As documented in the film we saw.

SG: yeah, Gay Sex in the 70s. All of which I observed but was personally less involved in. Maybe I was using the camera to satisfy my curiosity.

SK: Yes, it was so much in your face, which was a shock for me three months out of Delhi. You didn't have to go to a gay bar. Gay men everywhere — in the bank and in grocery stores. They had created this sub-culture which you caught in your pictures of Christopher Street — all those men with neat moustaches and in tight jeans.

SG: It was very white.

SK: Yes, but there was also a black gay presence.

SG: But that was very little of it. It was hardly there at that time.

SK: Well there were many black men in the bars.

SG: Yes, that's true. But I didn't really encounter any personally. None or hardly any. I guess, in retrospect, New York had more absolute numbers of people of colour and the end result was more segregation. I didn't know then but I realize now that they were doing their own thing in a different place. But we never saw them. I think Indians by and large, and I was no exception, got assimilated into what we saw as the mainstream white culture. by doing the photography courses and not the business school I became even more cut off from immigrant culture.

SK: Which was all white?

SG: Which was largely white.

SK: But that changed, which was a new beginning.

And so for day 2345