Faceless, anonymous and profiles without description on Grindr, especially in India’s small towns, are now sporting a new picture—Ranveer Singh’s nudes.
The gay dating app, famous for being a quick haven for men seeking sex with men or transwomen, is ablaze with the Bollywood superstar’s controversial pictures for the Paper Magazine that attracted an FIR for ‘hurting women’s sentiments’ on Tuesday. Not even 24 hours have passed, and already many profiles have put Ranveer’s naked body on their display picture (DP).
It’s quite rare to find the faces of big Bollywood actors on Grindr DPs. Most of the time, anonymous accounts on the platform use pictures of lesser-known models, foreign porn stars or bodybuilders from Instagram. Could this small change in so-called ‘fake profiles’—not displaying their real identities—indicate that Bollywood has finally found a gay icon in Ranveer Singh?
Ranveer’s a dusky desi ‘mard’—a breed of men considered desirable in South Asia, irrespective of sexual identity/orientation. And his constant defiance of heteronormativity is resulting in something progressive.
As a matter of fact, Ranveer Singh has set the record about his sexuality ‘straight’ but that hasn’t stopped him from being who he is—comfortable and secure in his own skin. In India, where toxic masculinity is often celebrated, femininity is mocked, and being metrosexual is looked down upon, Ranveer’s presence offers an umbrella to all men who face the heavy downpour of hate for going slightly off the society’s strong gendered norms.
From his portrayal of the bisexual Alauddin Khilji to his ‘vivid’ sense of fashion, speculation about Ranveer’s sexuality has often found centre stage in Bollywood gossip. From wearing high heels to gorgeous ghagras, he has shown that one can be straight, liberated of gender identities and still rule the Hindi cinema industry, which otherwise hasn’t witnessed a surge of LGBT+ celebrities coming out ever since Section 377 was scrapped for consenting adults.
A while ago, I found my short, straight friend wearing a pair of heeled boots and asked him if his family judged him for it. He replied: “if the husband of Deepika Padukone has no problem in wearing and flaunting those heels, why should I? I am not married to Deepika but at least he has made many short men comfortable wearing heels. Being judged for short height can’t be solved, but wearing heels is no longer a problem”.
My friend’s response stunned me—this was exactly what the LGBTQ+ community had been talking about. Stereotyping gender and sexual orientation for fashion had been a long-standing problem but Ranveer’s vibrancy may have brought about a difference. Gay or not, all men can adore wearing a ghagra without being judged.
His devil-may-care attitude towards all actions challenging heteronormativity might explain his popularity among gay men.
Women may go gaga over Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan or Akshay Kumar but none of these guys feature on Grindr as often as Ranveer Singh. And he too is loved by women. The latest Koffee With Karan season has also revealed how, despite being married, he is so chill friends with men and women in the industry, which is again a rare thing.
Ranveer’s nudes becoming a talking point in national TV debates doesn’t surprise me at all, but his acceptance within a community he doesn’t belong to impresses me the most.
Views are personal.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)