Sunil Gupta’s picture of male intimacy in Eighties India was extra subversive than it appears

Sunil Gupta's photo of male intimacy in 1980s India was more subversive than it seems

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

In Snap, we look at the power of a single photograph, chronicling stories about how both modern and historical images have been made.
To passersby, the sight of two men embracing besides New Delhi’s India Gate in 1986 might have seemed unremarkable. In a city where public displays of platonic male affection are relatively commonplace, it was photographer Sunil Gupta who attracted more attention at the time.

“Men holding hands or lying in each other’s laps is not an issue — it looks very romantic from (the outside), but they’re usually just hanging out,” he said in a video interview from the UK, before recalling: “I was creating more interest than them, because I was standing there with a tripod and a camera, so everybody was focused on me.”

Onlookers may not have realized, but Gupta was creating a subtly subversive image in what he has described as the “repressive atmosphere” of 1980s India. At a time when homosexuality was more taboo in the country…