Dublin-based gay artist on making a film about the effect of social distancing on sex and intimacy

Alongside his work, Pradeep Mahadeshwar shares his experiences as an Asian gay man navigating a changed Ireland.

A topless male torso with rubber gloved hands caressing itself
Image: Pradeep Mahadeshwar

Pradeep Mahadeshwar is a gay visual artist originally from India and now living in Dublin. While on lockdown, he is making a short film about how social isolation will affect sex and intimacy, not just at the current moment – but also into the future.

Pradeep shared, “A lack of contact with others is affecting my emotional wellbeing. I talk to my friends living in different continents and time zones, everyone is feeling alone and craving connection. The question arises what will be the future of physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy in our private life if we don’t get a COVID-19 remedy soon? I feel scared just to think about living without intimacy in and outside of the bed.

“Would we be able to get the comfort of a simple hug or holding hands without a fear of getting sick? Would we be able to get the pleasure of touching, kissing, licking, and sucking without fear and guilt? What will be the future of casual lovemaking? Or not having a monogamous relationship, would one then be considered as a ‘Bad Gay’? Or is it going to add one more stigma towards the gay lifestyle in general?”

Pradeep is shooting his film, Concepts of The Self, at home, spending ten minutes a day every day adding to the piece, and he will continue making it until lockdown ends. “The entire process of self-isolation is creatively challenging. All the things around us we took for granted in daily life have disappeared, or their access has been reduced to none overnight. COVID19 has altered my entire physiological and visual experience of each living day to a greater extent.

“I miss seeing hundreds of people around me. The variety of colors, noises, smells, textures, different shades of lights, the type of temperature, and the feel of the touch – I miss everything. As a gay artist, I miss looking at beautiful men around me, appreciating their presence, and listing to their voices. Nobody knows when this will end, or is this going to be a new normal for next while. This change is making me creatively inspired to document my reactions to this new way of life.”

A topless man putting his rubber gloved hands in his mouth

As a gay man originally from India, the artist also shared his experiences since coming to Ireland. “Ireland is now my home. As a queer person of color, I can say that living in Dublin can be challenging at times. The gay scene is pretty hard for people of Asian origin. One has to face stereotypes and prejudices regularly.

“I don’t have any family support as such, but I have got a small but reliable support system here. If you ask me, social distancing and self isolation are nothing new for a queer person of Asian origin. In these current circumstances, everyone is dealing with their own loneliness. In that sense, we are all the same; COVID has equalized the pain of being alone.”

Pradeep continued, “For last few weeks of lockdown, I was helping a group of Asian queer students living in Dublin. They had queries about the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme, immigration, closure of sexual health clinics, and safety measures during hookups.

“While living thousands of miles away from home, it is difficult for them to come to terms with the closure of our pubs and clubs where they go to socialise and feel safe. By working with them, I realised that the queer community needs to be kind, understanding, and empathetic with one another. Everyone has a different story and a distinct capacity to deal with these crises and emotional pressure. This is a learning curve for the community to understand empathy and inclusion.”

To learn more about Pradeep’s art, follow him @queermyths on Instagram.

For more information on available sexual health services, visit here. For more information on recommended safe sexual health practices during social isolation, visit here.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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