A while back I was reading a review of a book where it said Gandhi had a gay affair going on with a German-Jewish body builder, and I was thinking for God’s sake why am I wasting time on this tabloid stuff? First it was Tom Cruise rumors, then John Travolta, then the Shah of Iran, then Anderson Cooper…and now Gandhi?! I stopped reading.
But yesterday I found out that the Indian government just coughed up $ 1.28 million to buy a pile of Gandhi letters from the grandniece of Hermann Kallenbach, the bodybuilder Gandhi was supposedly in love with. Well OK Hermann was also an architect, but I’ll stick my neck out and say his being a bodybuilder, weightlifter or whatever is more in context.
Of course the letters were purchased for historical research. But when Gandhi wrote things to Kallenbach like, “How completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance,” you wonder how much of the $1.28 million was for research and how much just to get the letters out of circulation to protect Gandhi’s saintly image. Indian society is quite homophobic (though there are signs of improvement; the law against homosexuality was struck down in 2009).
Anyway the Gandhi being gay thing was year-old news and on its way to being forgotten if the Indian government hadn’t bought up the letters and foolishly reminded everyone of Hermann just when Reza Pahlavi had compared himself to Gandhi. Iranians aren’t much better than Indians at tolerating gays, and Reza Pahlavi probably wouldn’t have put on Gandhi’s dhoti in that interview if he had kept up on his book reviews–and possibly the books themselves. Still, talk about bad luck timing in politics!