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A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex

by Siddharth Dube

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5011-5847-6
Publisher: Atria

A public health visionary gets personal with a powerful exploration of “the beguiling possibilities of gender beyond the conventional bipolarity of male and female, and the mysterious, limitless permutations of sexual desire.”

World Policy Institute senior fellow Dube (Sex, Lies, and AIDS, 2001, etc.) was born in Calcutta and is known for his work on poverty and AIDS. In this memoir, published in India in 2015, he recounts his journey to come out as a young gay man in India and America and his efforts to find a loving relationship in midlife. Much of the book, which begins when the author was 10 in 1971, reads like a novel, and he delivers many moving descriptions of various gay coming-of-age moments—e.g., the first time he was tested for HIV and his encounter with a Keith Haring mural, which “hit me with the force that Picasso’s Guernica had.” Equally affecting is Dube’s inquiry into the ways in which his personal and professional lives have intersected. For example, he undertook research into the unfolding HIV crisis in India at a time when female sex workers were in the bull’s-eye of HIV discourse in India. They had, Dube writes, “spared us blame and persecution for carrying the ‘gay plague,’ ” and the author had a kinship with them—like him, they knew what it was like to feel like an outcast. Yet in his policy writing, he “deliberately chose to keep silent about what I knew for a fact, that a significant proportion of Indian men were having unprotected sex with other men, thus putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV.” Dube also offers insights into the trials of love and of middle age. His account of the end of a long-term relationship—with its pitch-perfect description of two people who still love each other who can’t admit they are breaking up—will resonate with many readers.

A gripping memoir about a gay man with feet in India and the U.S. as well as a book about how to put together a life.