Dissent Of The Day

406px-Gandhi,_Sonia_Schlesin,_Hermann_Kallenbach

A reader writes:

If indeed Gandhi was gay, neither the news clipping you link to nor your post provide any evidence for it. Please do. The author - who is an acknowledged student of Gandhi's life/works - seems to think otherwise. The author might err in mistaking only sexual relations for homosexuality, but you likewise err - unless you have evidence otherwise - by equating "intimacy" with a romantic or sexually interested relationship. Heterosexual men form intimate relationships from time to time. There is something non-sexual, but decidedly something other than "friendly", to many a bro-hug.

Well, here's what I know from the Roberts review of the book, to which I linked. Gandhi chastely slept naked with young women with this effect:

"Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience."

And this:

The love of his life was a German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder, Hermann Kallenbach, for whom Gandhi left his wife in 1908. "Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom," he wrote to Kallenbach. "The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed."

For some ­reason, cotton wool and Vaseline were "a constant reminder" of Kallenbach, which Mr. Lelyveld believes might ­relate to the enemas Gandhi gave ­himself, although there could be other, less generous, explanations.

Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about "how completely you have taken ­possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance." Gandhi nicknamed himself "Upper House" and Kallenbach "Lower House," and he made Lower House promise not to "look lustfully upon any woman." The two then pledged "more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen."

They were parted when Gandhi ­returned to India in 1914, since the German national could not get permission to travel to India during ­wartimethough Gandhi never gave up the dream of having him back, writing him in 1933 that "you are always ­before my mind's eye." Later, on his ashram, where even married "inmates" had to swear celibacy, Gandhi said: "I cannot imagine a thing as ugly as the intercourse of men and women."

I have never met or known of a straight man for whom this could conceivably be true. The notion that Gandhi was not gay - based on this evidence - is preposterous.

(Wiki caption: "Kallenbach sewed this photo in the collar of his jacket before joining Gandhi in England during the First World War. Being of German origin, he feared being arrested and the image seized. He was effectively arrested, but the police never discovered the photo.")

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