Filmmaker Karan Johar’s sexuality has been one of the most talked about topics of Bollywood for a long time now. He may have been evasive about the subject until now, however in light of his forthcoming biography titled ‘The Unsuitable Boy’, Karan Johar has for the first time addressed the subject. Karan recently opened up about his journey through discovering his sexuality, losing his virginity and dealing with homophobic people who have targeted him on social media for many years now.
Talking about his first sexual encounter he said, “I lost my virginity at 26. Yes, it is true. Why would I say this on record if it were not? It’s not something I am proud of. It was in New York. Up till that point, I was sexually completely inexperienced. Even when I was a kid, I was very backward in this department.
While growing up, I was combating a hundred issues in my head. The thought of sex made me awkward; it almost rattled me. I thought, am I asexual? Why am I not feeling this? Why am I not doing anything? There was a lot of turbulence in my head. For me to address it, talk about it, discuss it, was a big no-no. I brushed it under the carpet all through the making of ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ and ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. At that time, I was also very large and was grappling with my weight issues. I felt physically undesirable. Post ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, I had actually started working a little on my looks. I had lost some weight and had groomed myself a bit. Finally, I had developed a little spring in my step, a little confidence. That’s when my first encounter happened, after the release of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, out of the country.
Today, people think that I have all the possible avenues to have all the sex in the world. But that’s not who I am at all. To me, sex is a very, very personal and a very intimate feeling. It’s not something that I can do casually, with just about anyone. I have to invest in it. I’ve always handled the rumours that came my way. There has been so much conjecture about my sexuality. For heaven’s sake, for years there were rumours about Shah Rukh and me. And I was traumatised by it. I was on a show on a Hindi channel, and I was asked about Shah Rukh.’Yeh anoka rishta hai aap ka,’ the interviewer said. He worded it in such a way that I got really angry. I said, ‘If I asked you if you are sleeping with your brother, how will you feel?’ So he said, `What do you mean? How can you ask me this question?’ I said, ‘How could you ask me this question?
For me, no matter what ups and downs Shah Rukh and I have been through, he is a father figure, an older brother to me. For me to look at him in that way or be subjected to those rumours was just ridiculous. But it didn’t bother him. He said, ‘People talk nonsense, and if a man does not have an extramarital affair, he is supposed to be gay.
I get scared of being spotted with any single man now because I think they are going to think that I am sleeping with him. I mean, firstly I have never ever talked about my orientation or sexuality because whether I am heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, it is my concern. I refuse to talk about it…I have not been brought up to talk about my sex life. I know I am the butt of many jokes, pun intended. I know how my sexuality is discussed. I have become like the poster boy of homosexuality in this country. But honestly, I have no problem with people saying what they want about me. Twitter has the most abuse. I wake up to at least 200 hate posts saying, ‘Get out, you’re polluting our nation, you’re dirtying society’ or ‘Shove [IPC Section] 377 up your arse.’ I get this on a daily basis and I’ve learnt to laugh it off. Some major sections of the English media are very sensitive in the way they approach this question. I’ll be asked, ‘Oh, there is some conjecture about, you know, your sexuality.’
Everybody knows what my sexual orientation is. I don’t need to scream it out. And 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 in any case. I’ve given hints. I’ve stood on a platform like AIB Roast, and I had half of the people supporting me and the other half dissing me for doing this. But at the end of the day, I did what I did, and I did it with my mother in the front row, and screw you if you have a problem with that. The only thing that bothered me was when people stood on the high moral ground and said, `Why was your mother in the front row?’ But she’s cool…Do you know that I tried to stop her from coming but she insisted? So the thing I told her was, `Mum, laugh. Do not squirm and do not be embarrassed for me because I’m not embarrassed for myself.’ If they’re going to make jokes about my sexual orientation, I’m okay about it. I’m not embarrassed about who I am. I’m not apologetic. I’m embarrassed about the country I live in vis-a-vis where I come from in terms of my orientation. I’m sad, upset and disheartened with the trolling that happens on social media… At the end of the day, this whole homophobia is so disheartening and upsetting. And then they say, `Why don’t you speak about your sexuality? You could be iconic in this country.’ But I don’t want to be iconic anywhere. I want to live my life.
The reason I don’t say it out aloud is simply that I don’t want to be dealing with the FIRs. I’m very sorry. I have a job, I have a commitment to my company, to my people who work for me; there are over a hundred people that I’m answerable to. I’m not going to sit in the courts because of ridiculous, completely bigoted individuals who have no education, no intelligence, who go into some kind of rapture for publicity. I’ve reached a point in my life where I am not going to conform to what people think I should be saying or doing…So if you have an opinion about my sexuality, then screw you. I don’t care.”
It sure takes courage to open up about someone’s personal journey and share such details about one’s struggles. More power to you Karan!