“An Indefinite Sentence :A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex” by Siddharth Dube— A Memoir about Sex, Oppression and the Universal Struggle for Justice

Dube, Siddharth. “An Indefinite Sentence :A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex”, Simon and Schuster, 2019. A Memoir about Sex, Oppression, and the Universal Struggle for Justice Amos Lassen From the time he was a child in 1960s India, Siddharth Dube knew that he was different. As he dealt with his femininity, his sexuality and his intellect, he embarked on a lifelong journey of discovery and this journey included  Harvard classrooms, unsafe cruising sites, ivory-tower think-tanks, shantytowns, halls of power at the United Nations and World Bank to jail cells where sexual outcasts are brutally treated. Dube came of age in the early days of the AIDS epidemic and was at the frontlines when that disease made rights for gay men and for sex workers a matter of basic survival. He pushed to decriminalize same-sex relations and sex work in India, both of which were outlawed under laws dating back to British colonial rule. He became a tough critic of the United States’ imposition of its anti-prostitution policies on developing countries, warning that this was a 21st century replay of the moralistic Victorian-era campaigns that brought about endless persecution of countless women, men, and trans individuals all over the world.

“An Indefinite Sentence” is a personal and political journey in which Dube searched for love and self-respect as he became involved with the struggles of some of the world’s most oppressed people especially those who were cast aside because of  their sexuality. Dube writes about sexuality, gender expression and the securing human rights and social justice in the world of day.. We feel his outrage as we read how law and culture interfere with, but can also potentially support, human lives. Dube’s personal struggle became committed advocacy on behalf of others. Not only do we get a look at the long struggle against homophobia but we also get an up to date record of gay rights and AIDS relief activism worldwide. Dube gives a rich perspective that makes it clear that criminalizing sex work is not an effective strategy to uphold human dignity. In reading about Dube’s private marginalization, we led into a greater understanding  of public and communal discrimination against sexual minorities. Dube’s book is rich in style and education. This is also so much more than a memoir of a gay man’s life growing up in India and the United States. It is also a firsthand account of the lives of sexual minorities in the two countries. We see Dube as privileged and a pariah at the same time. His perspective is also dual in that it is both insider outsider and we easily empathize with the choices he made. Just as I found this to be more than a memoir; it is also more than just a read but a total experience.

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