In a candid exploration of his views on queer stereotypes, Ketan Bajaj reflects upon many things, including the challenges faced by non-queer allies in building solidarity. He also talks about the difficulties queer folks from small towns face; and how one of the only queer-friendly dating apps - Grindr - is being used by non-queer folks to extort the queer community and take advantage of their fears and helplessness.
What women were facing in the nineties, queers are still facing that today.
Ketan believes allyship originates from within. However, he also acknowledges how non-queers receive comments equating their allyship as membership in the queer community and how this discourages many allies, leading them to discontinue their support. Ketan contends that genuine support arises from understanding and compassion, often inspired by witnessing the struggles of friends or family members. Regrettably, some newer allies still encounter resistance from their social circles due to prevailing stereotypes. This phenomenon remains a common challenge for allies navigating misconceptions.
Highlighting the impact of stereotypes on workplace dynamics, he shares instances of biased promotions and unwarranted assumptions about the capabilities of trans and other queer individuals. Ketan recalls how his peers once started a rumor mill about him having slept with his boss to get a promotion, completely disregarding his skills and credentials.
I understood the nuances of bisexuality through my partner.
Ketan's partner identifies as bisexual and frequently faces inquiries about his choice of a male partner despite being bisexual. He expresses frustration at the double standard, noting that while declaring oneself as gay is often accepted, bisexuality tends to raise unwarranted doubts.
Through his partner, Ketan has gained a deeper understanding of bisexuality. He took it upon himself to get educated on the matter, realizing that bisexuality doesn't necessarily adhere to a strict 50-50 split. His partner clarified that while he has a nominal sexual attraction to girls, his emotional connections are more profound with guys. This insight led Ketan to appreciate the multifaceted nature of bisexuality, where one can connect with different genders in distinct ways.
Many non-queer folks are using Grindr to extort money by blackmailing closeted queer folks.
Ketan's research on the issue of blackmailing and extortion within the gay community via the dating app Grindr is practical and alarming. Motivated by a series of incidents, including one involving a close friend, Ketan decided to investigate the escalating trend, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driven by a desire to comprehend the patterns and protect the community, Ketan's research uncovered a disturbing modus operandi. He observed a coordinated effort by a group targeting new profiles on Grindr, aiming to exploit individuals still in the closet. The perpetrators leverage threats of outing victims if they fail to comply with extortion demands. Notably, in the Delhi region, the gang employs a specific tactic, luring victims near the Delhi Metro before orchestrating physical confrontations to extract money. The pervasive fear of exposure and the immediate financial demands have deterred many victims from reporting these crimes, contributing to their perpetuation.
Ketan offers safety advice for those using such platforms, emphasizing precautions like meeting in public places and sharing details with friends. He also suggests exploring alternative avenues, such as queer events, for safer connections.
Being brought up in a small town, I didn’t even know that the term ‘gay’ exists.
Reflecting on the struggles of small-town queers, Ketan shares his personal experiences, highlighting the difficulties of self-discovery in environments with limited resources and acceptance. He talks about how before college, he grappled with feeling different without comprehending the reason, unaware even of the term "gay."
His personal struggles unfolded in a relationship with a girl during his school days, where emotional attachment proved elusive, and his focus shifted toward other people's boyfriends. Enduring the challenges of that time, he also underwent conversion therapy, an experience he describes as profoundly painful.
In offering advice, he redirects his message not to those from small towns but to metropolitan dwellers. Their lack of understanding about the limited educational opportunities in smaller towns, especially concerning acceptance of one's sexuality, is a point of contention. Ketan’s counsel is clear: refrain from making comparisons and, most importantly, be respectful and recognize the distinctive struggles and burdens faced by individuals originating from small towns.
Ketan’s journey showcases resilience and individuality in navigating societal expectations. He is an advocate and researcher, combining his technical expertise with a commitment to challenging stereotypes within and outside the queer community and promoting understanding and inclusivity.