I was asked this past week to write about a topic for a live magazine in Chicago called Paper Machete. Live magazine, you ask? It’s when the editor asks you to write about a certain topic and then you read it live next to other amazing readers. ‘Machete is always smart and current. Check it out at www.thepapermacheteshow.com. My topic this week, was Gandhi Gay? Below is my answer.
Mahatma Gandhi, one-man army, freed India from the tyrannical empire of the Empire with just his lightsaber. Mahatma Gandhi single-handedly fought off the time traveling half-machine former governor of California. Mahatma Gandhi was the only one pure enough to resist the temptation of power so he was trusted to throw the ring back into the lava pits of Mount Doom, screaming victoriously, machine gun blasting in the air, “So say we all, so say we all… So say we all.”
As a single mom and legal assistant, he brought down a polluting power company with petitions and used his last wish to free the genie, saying “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn.” But you all know this. His story is legend and to know him is to love him. You… didn’t know that? Well, take it as no insult when I say that what you don’t know about Gandhi could fill a book. And that book is called “Great Soul.” And it’s available wherever fine books are sold.
This book has pissed people off. Not just because the misleading title has buyers thinking it’s Aretha Franklin’s biography but also because it suggests that Gandhi might be gay. Penned by Pulitzer prize recipient Joseph Lelyveld, the book explains a romance between Gandhi and German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach. The book takes it’s reasoning from a series of correspondence between the two. One saucy Morsel from Ghandhi includes, “Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom. The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.” Shoot Gandhi, that sounds like 2 am sexting talk on the way home from the bars.
The pair lived together for two years in South Africa and the book insinuates that Gandhi left his wife for Kallenbach. Lelyveld insists that he didn’t say Gandhi was gay, only that he and the bodybuilding German-Jew were very fond of each other. The scandalous book is being voted to be banned in India and some are calling for the central government to halt distribution.
Have you ever seen that South Park episode, Jared Has Aids? In it, they explain the rule of what is “too soon” and determine that 22.3 years later, Aids is finally funny. That concept, that temporary reverence seems to be at work here. Many decades after his death, maybe it’s finally OK to take him out of the closet? Did people know that Gandhi was gay or bi sexual or bodybuilder-sexual at the time but it took this long to be at a point in our society to talk about it?
Will the frontierman of philosophy continue trend-setting… from the grave? Will the next great catch-phrase be “That’s So Gay-ndi?” Will the famously homophobic country of India look at their revered forefather as a role model for sexuality as well as philosophy? Or, a sadder thought, will his past accomplishments be cast in a different light now that his personal life is becoming clearer?
But when you think of someone who is famous for wearing only a diaper in public and frets about their body image so much that they don’t eat for days… do you think of a straight man? Also, isn’t the very definition of bisexuality, “love all?” Was Gandhi gay? There are more questions than answers but perhaps a better question is, how could Gandhi not be gay?
I just hope Sir Ben Kingsly reprises the role for Gandhi 2: (insert offensive gay porn title here.)