Ashley Tellis: Homosexual, leading Indian gay-rights activist may be US envoy to India

JANUARY 10, 2017




Ashley Tellis: Homosexual, leading Indian gay-rights activist may be US envoy to India


Ashley J. Tellis is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues.



Ashley Tellis could be the next Ambassador to India

By Varghese K. George, January 10, 2017

Ashley Tellis, a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, could be named the next U.S. Ambassador to India, said a report in The Washington Post.

Mr. Tellis was not available for a response, but had last week declined to comment on speculations about him joining the administration. Mr. Trump has said that Ambassadors who are political appointees will not be given a grace period after he takes over as President on January 20th. The current U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, is a political appointee.

Mumbai-born Tellis was a key figure in negotiations for the India-U.S. nuclear deal and is a proponent of stronger ties between the two countries, particularly in the area of defence cooperation.

He has served in the U.S. embassy in Delhi as an adviser to the Ambassador. He has also been on the National Security Council.

Mr. Trump is “close to selecting” Mr. Tellis as the next envoy to India, The Post quoted sources in the transition team as saying. Mr. Tellis has good relations with both the Democrats and the Republicans and, if selected, could easily be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


Ashley Tellis as US ambassador to India?

By Chidanand Rajghatta, Washington, January 10, 2017

There is no rule, and barely a precedent, that an Indian-American or Person of Indian-origin (PIO) should be the US Ambassador to New Delhi. But already, “desi” names are flying around Washington for India-related jobs even before the Donald Trump is sworn in as President. Ashley Tellis, a Mumbai-born, India-educated scholar-diplomat is being spoken of as the next American envoy to India, to succeed Richard Verma, an Obama appointee who is expected to demit office before January 20.
Tellis, 55, is currently a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace specializing in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues. An alumnus of the University of Bombay who came to US for graduate studies at the University of Chicago, he served as senior adviser to Robert Blackwill, the US Ambassador in New Delhi during 2001-2003. He also served on the US National Security Council staff as special assistant to President Bush and was intimately involved in negotiating the civilian nuclear deal with India.
Trump has moved quickly to pencil in nominees for Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson), Defense Secretary (Gen James Mattis), and envoys to China (Governor Terry Branstad) and Japan (businessman William Hagerty), all with extensive Asia experience, and his lining up Tellis for the New Delhi job – ahead of any European appointments – is said to show the importance he attaches to Asia.


“Trump could make Obama’s pivot to Asia a reality,” was the headline in Washington Post, which first reported Tellis’ possible nomination in passing and said he the President-elect was close to making the call.

Tellis’ nomination – he will have to be confirmed by the Senate – is certain to be welcomed in New Delhi, not just because he’s Indian-American, but also because of the body of scholarly work he’s done on the region, on US-India ties, and his tireless promotion of closer defense and strategic relations between the two countries. He is, among other works, the author of ‘India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture’ and co-author of ‘Interpreting China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future’.


What the news stories about the potential ambassadorial posting do NOT tell you about Ashley Tellis:

IIT-H sacks gay activist Ashley Tellis

By Nikhila Henry, Hyderabad, June 11, 2010

Indian Institute of Technology (Hyderabad) management sacked gay rights activist and faculty member Ashley Tellis, apparently discomfited by his sexual orientation. The academic, with around 20 years of experience, was shown the door last fortnight less than a year after joining IIT-H … Tellis was assistant professor with the liberal arts department and is a well-known voice in the gay rights movement in the country. A published author, Tellis has a PhD from Cambridge University and a long teaching career. 


Immediately below, I reproduce an article by
India’s most notorious and high-profile “Catholic” homosexual and gay-rights activist, Ashley Tellis
(once a regular contributor of such pornography as this, in the New Indian Express; most of his articles were sickening and I was greatly relieved when NIE suddenly ceased to publish them. I guess that someone must have objected to their publication.)

Does the Church want to have a man like Ashley Tellis as Donald Trump’s ambassador to India?

The Catholic reader will note that not only does Tellis openly and unapologetically flaunt his gay orientation but also that he has no moral judgement on the practice of all manner of immoral and unnatural acts with others of his gender (also see page 5), and the vice of bestiality.

Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,+kiss+me,+kiss+me&artid=Ym3PMCV8krU

By Ashley Tellis, New Indian Express, October 10, 2009

The most horrible thing about having sex with Indian men is that they do not kiss. Of the many men I have had sex with and the hundreds I have interviewed, almost 98 per cent of men said they do not kiss another man, especially not on the mouth. Some, of course, say they would not even kiss a woman which is bull and possibly their way of hoping you will not feel insulted by their clear insult of you, and it becomes clear most often that they’ve never been with a woman at all. Nevertheless, if it were true, that’s pathetic and shows that women are not just not having orgasms (most Indian men do not even know what the clitoris is) but not getting any kissing as well, which women tend to love way more than penetration.

The fact that they do not kiss or do not set a really high store by kissing shows that Indian men are bad in bed, whether with women or men or any animate being. Most Indian men seem to have a highly functional and penis-oriented understanding of sex. It is just about penetration, orgasm and going off to sleep. The sexual act is one of release then, not of pleasure. It has an excremental rather than an erotic quality. Hours of foreplay are not part of the Indian man’s imagination and hence there are some very ‘unmoistened’, and hence sore, female and male genital and erotic cavities out there. Cunnilingus is a foreign country to most Indian men and as for anilingus, forget about it.

I have finally given up on the idea of sex with men who do not kiss. It is just not worth it. It is not just that it is offensive that they have no respect for the fact that you are willing to put your mouth pretty much everywhere for them and they refuse to put theirs on your mouth, it’s that sex without kissing is like dessert without the main course.



Kissing is one of the most intimate and beautiful and erotic activities in the world and I cannot have sex without it. Freud is really interesting on kissing. For him, kissing tells a lot about ourselves, our development and our relationship to ourselves and other people. It is linked to the suckling at the mother’s breast but crucially it is linked to sucking as pleasure, detached from nourishment of the mother’s milk. It is reciprocal, it is tasting someone else, it is devoid of power as it is tough to tell if one is giving or taking, in Freud’s words it is “the bringing together of two oral erotogenic zones instead of two genitals.” Hmmm.



Freud makes larger claims for kissing. He says it enables the individual to relate to the world (another pair of lips) because he cannot kiss himself. It helps the individual develop into an adult relationship with the self and with the world (and so most Indian men are stunted and fixated idiots) and understand, as psychoanalyst Adam Phillips puts it, pleasure as pleasure. It is such a pity that most Indian men do not understand pleasure or what an intersubjective relationship manifested through the meeting of two mouths can mean. Homophobia, hygiene fetishes, fear of intimacy (“Yaar, feeling aa jati hai,’ said one of my Jat interviewees) all these and some other messed up psychic reasons prevent men from kissing other men and apparently even enjoying kissing women in this country and we are the poorer for it.

I was not suckled as a child and that may have something to do with the fact that my most cherished erotic encounter was with the first boy I ever fooled around with when all we did was kiss, deep, with our tongues entangled for hours. He was Nepali, soft and uncontaminated by the strictures of Indian masculinity yet. We were young. It was the most beautiful sex I’ve ever had.


Queer academicians R. Raj Rao, Ashley Tellis on films and their impact on the community

By Apoorva Puranik, February 26, 2016


Ashley Tellis, Associate Professor, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, Chennai


Ashley Tellis, the quirky gay rights activist who lectures on ‘same-sex politics’ at Chennai’s Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, known for tearing film director Karan Johar’s movies to shreds. In a newspaper review, Tellis had written about Student of the Year in a scathing piece called, ‘Shame on you, Karan Johar*‘ that, “It is because of films like Student of the Year that the homosexual has been reduced to a stock figure of the most homophobic, straight clichés in neo-liberal cinema,” Now he says about Aligarh, “Siras’ story was not about finding love, but of an old gay man, leading a double life, who was looking for sex and got punished for that. A movie on his life, glorified and romanticized to suit the palate of Indian audiences is in no way a tribute. Aligarh may be better than a sh***y film like Dostana, but it does not show the dark, true side of things, like the fight for basic, respectable living.”

Rao and Tellis’ opinions differ on what the movie will do for LGBT persons, but the community like everywhere else, does not always speak in one voice.

The trenchant Tellis has his share of critics within the LGBT community, who label him as ‘self-victimizing.’

In an expletives-laden tirade, he said, “They can call me whatever the f**k they want, I am a victim, and I will f******g play the victim,” he signs off, in typical style.

*Johar came out of the closet this week (January 2016) revealing what was long suspected — that he is gay.


Tellis is a regular contributor to Gaylaxy magazine (founded by Sukhdeep Singh, January 2010)


(L) Ashley Tellis. Three images from the Gaylaxy home page.


“Frustrated at the paucity of queer magazines chronicling the triumphs, aspirations and concerns of the rainbow coalition of communities and individuals, a desire to create something new was born.”

Gaylaxy adds, “Ashley Tellis is an LGBT rights activist and academic based in Tamil Nadu”.




On Being a Gay Activist in India EXTRACT

By Ashley Tellis, June 25, 2013

Being a gay activist in India is like suddenly becoming invisible to the world around you and all its inhabitants. You are screaming to your friends and loved ones that they should listen to you, that you are here but they can’t see you or hear you. You turn to your enemies but they can’t see or hear you either. It is not just the state that does not recognize you, to whom you are an illegible subject, everyone around you, friend and enemy alike, erases you.

How many times in how many dharnas and meetings have you bitten your tongue and held your peace because somehow you convince yourself once again that this is not the right time, this is not the right place, women or Dalits or adivasis are more important and their issues are more important at the moment and sexuality’s time has not yet come? How many times have you reached home in a state of rage, blinded by your own tears because you are furious with yourself for having convinced yourself that way?

How does it feel to be insulted, marginalized, abused by your own ‘community’ because you are not joining their feel-good, neoliberal party, because not only can’t you be queer, you think queer is the most rightwing, complicit, oppressive, and elitist subject position to inhabit? How does one suffer the alienation from one’s own constituency because it is taken over by marauding upper class, upper caste twits who have been seeing too much US TV and think queer? How long does your laughter last when you are called the Baba Ramdev of the same-sex movement? When does it turn into tears at the irony of the situation?

How does one endure the stares, the barely tolerant gaze of the Dalit, the Kashmiri, the Muslim, the Christian, the feminist, the adivasi, the displaced, the submerged, the marginalized, the disenfranchised who find it in themselves through all their own suffering to hate you for your sexual orientation? What do you make of the Dalit magazine which refuses to publish your article where you speak of being Dalit as well as gay? How do you look your Left comrades in the eye when they have refused to stand by you as College Principals have denied you a job and smeared your name with the worst charges and then they refuse to come testify on your behalf? How do you continue to work with feminists who accuse you of being in love with and having an affair with the men they love even when you are not in love with those men? How do you deal with revolutionary straight men who presume you want to sleep with them and who do not think your politics is worth any more than your desire to suck their dicks? How might you continue to smile at the adivasi activist who asks you why you are not married and how will you die alone? How do you continue to speak to the Christian missionary fighting for Dalit rights with all the compassion of Christ but who spews homophobic bile after the High Court judgment reads down Section 377? What do you say to the beautiful Kashmiri man who wants azaadi but not for Kashmiri women from Kashmiri patriarchy and certainly not for you who he openly says does not exist even as you, weak with desire for him, are staring into his eyes? What do you say to the CPM lesbian but closeted academic who tells you officially that lesbians can’t march in the March 8, International Women’s Day, march because LGBT issues are ‘Western’ and disconnected and will derail the real issues at hand which include industrial labour and slum demolition.

Never mind that one of the women in the slums is the most fierce lesbian activist you’ve met in Delhi. Never mind that your life as a same-sex loving subject also has a political economy to it. Never mind that your research is on the sexual component of caste-based and class-based violence. Never mind that you are also marginalized as a Christian all your life and feel as strongly for Kandhamal as for a Professor in Aligarh who has to kill himself because of his sexual orientation*. Never mind that you were spat at by jingoistic nationalist members of DUTA as you protested in Delhi University against the imprisonment and torture and framing of Prof SAR Geelani. Never mind that you never loved the man the feminist accuses you of poaching on and never mind that he’s actually gay. Never mind that you are not at all interested in these straight revolutionary men but have to have a scarring debate with them about gay desire and their need to deal with its existence and its right to existence. Never mind that in the same month that a woman was raped in Delhi, a Nepali gay man from North Bengal was brutally raped and murdered in Delhi and there was no protest and it is difficult to talk about him in the protest march you are at for the woman. Never mind that activists never ask you about your life, the people you love, the people who leave you, the people who you have lousy sex with or great sex with because your life does not matter to them and what you do is repulsive to them or, worse still, unimaginable to them. Never mind the other activists who think just because you are gay you must be progressive, must be beleaguered, must be supported no matter what and who see you as some negative freak if you offer a critique of the ‘queer movement.’

Being a gay activist in India over the last two decades – from the repressed and political runt of a lad in Bombay you were then to the thick-skinned whore you are today in Delhi – has been one hell of a ride. It has been most of all, salutary and educative. It has taught you that the business of being a minority means negotiating the sharp and abrasive asymmetries of the various struggles you are simultaneously part of because constituents of all those struggles form who you are. It has taught you that even if you are invisible you have to hold on to the idea that you are completely visible to yourself, that you feel every bone and muscle inside yourself and you feel your blood weakly flowing and sometimes flowing hard and that you have to continue fighting in all the struggles you are involved in because that’s what makes you visible to yourself.

This is not just a biographical account of an extraordinarily unfortunate person. This is a subject position that is fairly symptomatic and shares its feeling with various other such subject positions articulated here. An independent Dalit positionality may feel equally disenfranchised by other forms of activism, including the gay and, especially, the queer. What I am trying to highlight is the asymmetrical nature of the field of being Indian and activist and the necessarily relational and co-constitutive nature of identity in India. That these asymmetries must become visible to each other, speak to each other and be heard is the true challenge of Indian, or indeed any, activism in the current conjuncture and perhaps always.


Ashley Tellis is a gay rights activist in India and an academic. He will join the Jindal Global Law School at the O.P Jindal Global University as Associate Professor in English on July 1, 2013. He obtained his doctorate in Irish women’s poetry at Cambridge University, England.

*Dr. Sreenivas Siras, a Marathi professor at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) sacked for being gay, was found dead on April 7, 2010. Siras, 64, was suspended after a secretly shot videotape surfaced, showing him having sex with a rickshaw puller.



One Henry Juhala, a producer of “film, cinema and TV movies with primary gay and lesbian, queer, GLBT themes and content” wrote in in support of Tellis’ problems with his Christian background:

As a marginalized gay Christian all my life, I can only speak to the Christian aspect of religion. Know exactly what the Bible says and does not say on homosexuality. Remember to factor in the context of when a particular Bible verse was written and the meanings of the actual words used in reference to homosexuality. (Hint — there is nothing in the Bible that condemns loving, responsible and consensual gay and lesbian relationships as we know them today. I know. I am a theologian by training).


Another sick article from the unnatural sex-obsessed Tellis:

The bad sex award goes to gay Indian men

By Ashley Tellis, October 7, 2012

One of the best kept secrets about gay life in India is that almost all gay sex here is lousy. I have to report that I have never had decent sex here, and I don’t think I ever will. Apart from the fact that Indians in general are lousy at sex and have all sorts of weird hang-ups about it, gay sex here has a particular set of sicknesses associated with it. So, Indian men who want to and do have gay sex also have no qualms about being disgusted by it and doing it badly. Culture legitimises that.

Frequently, one comes across men online who will tell you that they don’t kiss. They want to be sucked, they only want to f— you and, increasingly, want to be rimmed too. They say this with no irony and no self-reflexivity whatsoever and actually get offended when you tell them to go find a dog or f— a wall instead. Or when you tell them that something is wrong when they want you to lick their a— but they won’t lick your face. Or speak of how important kissing is to sex.

‘Tops’ (by which is meant the most pathetic imitation of missionary heterosexual positions) don’t suck, of course. They only want to be sucked. This is a given. Men on websites call themselves ‘pure tops’. They are really anxious that you come nowhere near their a— and, of course, are not interested at all in examining that anxiety. They expect bottoms not only to be submissive and meek but have no penises, no orgasms, no needs, no sexual desires other than to fulfil the desires of the tops.

Anal sex is a brutal affair and many of my gay friends have ruptured anuses, fissures, and damaged sphincters, and seem to take it as par for the course. High on alcohol, poppers, hash and other stuff, ‘bottoms’ seem not to care about their own bodies, or indeed about sex as something pleasurable, gentle and meaningful. It is only about being stuffed and pounded and hence the need for all the external intoxicants.

Tops, once they come, rush to the bathroom to wash and then rush out of the house without so much as a by-your-leave, let alone a goodbye kiss. All of a sudden they are disgusted by what they have done and want the hell out. It is just a matter of “release”, like they have pissed and now need to leave the pissoir.

I have recently begun seeing a man who calls himself gay, claims to be interested in an emotional relationship with a man, and is looking for a monogamous partner. This is the e-mail I had to send him after our first attempt at sex:

Dear middle-class Indian man,

Before we take our relationship further (if you want to), I want to state that you have to change as a lover and become more responsive and more attentive to the person you are in bed with and might be in a relationship with. Here’s an indication of how selfish you were in bed:

1. You came thrice and did not bother to ask me if I came even once.

2. You did not ask me what I like or what I find pleasurable.

3. You did not rim me but wanted to f— me (which any lover attentive to his lover’s needs would do).

4. You did not suck my c— or even offer to masturbate me if you are not used to sucking.

5. You did not kiss me enough, did not let me put my fingers in your mouth while I was sucking you.

6. You were only directed at your own needs — the need to get your c— sucked, the need to f— my a—.

7. Despite telling you that I am an anal virgin and you have to be slow and gentle, you were impatient, rough, thrusting and insensitive.

This is not the way to treat another human being in bed with you. The other person also has needs, desires, pleasures. You have to make an attempt to share bodies, and not just selfishly have your way. You are a typical, selfish and insensitive Indian man and that does not allow for a healthy, mutually respectful relationship.

Please reflect on all this if we have to have a future. Best,

This is why I don’t have sex for years sometimes and I’m still an anal virgin in my forties. I hope lesbians and trannies are having better sex, but somehow I doubt it. Homophobia and “Indian culture” (let’s not blame the Brits for our sickening conceptions of sex as dirty) have ruined our sex lives. That is where the revolution should start. When we refuse bad sex and fight for the right to good sex.



The above article is analysed and commented on October 12, 2012, at


Image extract from a May 22, 2015, article by Tellis



[…] This is the problem with the ‘queer movement’ in India. We never had a movement on the ground in which the rights of a political gay subject were asserted and this subject made a claim upon the state like other political subjects: Dalits, women, adivasis. A stupid, casteist, dumb matrimonial ad is not going to get us there either.


I have compiled this information not as a homophobe but as a Catholic Christian which I believe Ashley Tellis also is. One cannot be a true Catholic and an active homosexual and gay-rights activist.



1 OCTOBER 1986

JUNE 3, 2003

FEBRUARY 14, 2010












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