“I am a criminal in your country,” said Hollywood actor Rupert Everett, referring to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that classifies homosexuality as a punishable offence.
The 47-year-old British actor, in town to spend time with a friend in Alibaug, visited the MTV studio in Lower Parel to launch the channel’s week-long AIDS awareness campaign on Thursday.
Everett is one of the few Hollywood actors who have been open about their orientation, having come out of the closet in 1989. Everett most recognised for his role as Julia Robert’s gay friend in My Best Friend’s Wedding, is the United Nations’ ambassador for AIDS.
He has been involved with the AIDS effort in Cambodia and has travelled to Asia numerous times to speak about the subject and spread awareness.
Acknowledging the fact that even in the West, actors were afraid to talk about homosexuality or condoms, the actor said: “It is better to lose your career talking about a condom, than to lose your audience for not talking about a condom.”
Talking about bigotry and reluctance among Indians in accepting the problem and talking about sex, he said: “The English gave India this horrible Victorian morality. Sex wasn’t a tabboo subject in the country before. These aren’t Indian traditions, they’re all English traditions and a hangover of the British Empire.”
Everett, who visited India for the first time at the age of 15, said he was a regular visitor to the country. His grandfather was born in Lucknow, his father was stationed in the country at the time of the partition.
Incidentally, the actor finds Indian men as beautiful as the women, especially Aishwarya Rai. “I am going to watch Dhoom 2 while I’m in town,” he said.