The Journal of medical humanities 2017 03 17() doi 10.1007/s10912-017-9437-5
In this article I read textual metaphors of ‘untouchability’ in ‘post-AIDS’ representation as an erasure of structures that condition HIV stigmatization in India. Throughout, my discussion is contextualised by the political economy of HIV and AIDS, which has been productive of particular modern sexual subjects. In the film My Brother…Nikhil, the stigmatization of Nikhil, a gay Indian man living with HIV, is constituted through visual and verbal caste metaphors, which draw on existing subject positions that are elided as ‘traditional’, residual, and receding. This stigma is resolved textually through parental acceptance of the gay protagonist and his partner, projecting stigma as traditional and modernity as the resolution. Such metaphors of ‘untouchability’ prevent the representation of queer Dalit subjects in contexts of HIV and AIDS. Yet if addressing shame and social stigma are key to HIV treatment and prevention programmes, caste cannot be set aside simply as a metaphor. Expanding to include textual representations of queer Dalit subjectivity, the article reads a novel, The Boyfriend, and a poem, "Gandu Bagicha," to show ways in which caste stigma and homophobia intersect in contexts of seroconversion risk.