Famed Bollywood director and talk show host Karan Johar recently published his autobiography, “An Unsuitable Boy.” In the book, he discusses his lonely childhood growing up with weight issues – but some members of India’s LGBT+ community have expressed anger that he has chosen not to write explicitly about his sexual orientation, keeping it an open secret. “Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is,” Johar writes. “I don’t need to scream it out. If I need to spell it out, I won’t only because I live in a country where I could possibly be jailed for saying this. Which is why I Karan Johar will not say the three words that possibly everybody knows about me.”
Karan’s title is a play on the title of award-winning Indian author Vikram Seth’s novel “A Suitable Boy”. But Seth, who is openly gay, has publicly articulated his repugnance towards Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes homosexuality. Seth also believes that prominent LGBT+ Indians have an imperative to come out and be role models for the millions who are suffering in silence.
Amid the negative backlash, Johar does have some supporters who laud his honesty and bravery. Writer and publisher Shobhaa De told BBC News, “his book is remarkably candid and courageous. He has shared his vulnerabilities and fears.”