Difference between Western and Hindu views of male sexualityUnlike the West, the Hindu society does not have the concept of 'sexual orientation' that classifies males on the basis of who they desire. However, there is a strong, ancient concept of third gender, which is for individuals who have strong elements of both male and female in them. According to Sanskrit texts such as the Narada-smriti, Sushruta Samhita, etc., this third sex or gender includes people who have conventionally been called homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people and intersex people (LGBTI). Third genders are described in ancient Vedic texts as males who have a female nature—referring to homosexual men or feminine-gendered males. The gender/sexual role of third genders has for long been predominantly associated with receiving penetration from men, just like the gender/ sexual role of manhood has been to penetrate men, women or third genders. However, the Kama Sutra clearly describes third-gender men assuming both masculine and feminine identities as well as both receptive and dominant sexual roles.
Although Hindu society does not formally acknowledge sexuality between men, it formally acknowledges and gives space to sexuality between men and third genders as a variation of male-female sex (i.e., a part of heterosexuality, rather than homosexuality, if analysed in Western terms). In fact, Hijras, Alis, Kotis, etc.— the various forms of third gender that exist in India today— are all characterized by the gender role of having receptive anal and oral sex with men. Sexuality between men (as distinct from third genders) has nevertheless thrived, mostly unspoken, informally, within men's spaces, without being seen as 'different' in the way it is seen in the West. As in some other non-Western cultures, it is considered more or less a universal aspect of manhood, even if not socially desirable. It is the effeminate male sexuality for men (or for women) which is seen as 'different,' and differently categorised. Men often refer to their sexual play with each other as 'musti.'
The Hindu concept of homosexuality seeks to break this distinction between third gender and men, and to isolate sexuality between men along with the third genders, with all its negative consequences. As such, men in India have long resisted the concept of 'gay,' and have sex with men without identifying as a 'homosexual.'  Gay activists have sought to introduce a locally acceptable term for 'homosexual' for two decades, without success. Finally, the term MSM was taken, because it was technically difficult for men to avoid, if they had sex with men. However, it too was rejected by Indian men, as it was seen as just another term for 'gay.'  In the past few years, however, the concept of 'homosexuality' has finally taken root, as men's spaces have weakened,[clarification needed] because of Westernization and gay groups becoming strong with years of gay rights activism as well as HIV/AIDS activism.
A significant fallout of this has been that sexual desire between men, which was near universal earlier, is now become more and more isolated from the mainstream, as men are distancing themselves from it because of the stigma of effeminacy or third gender attached to the notion of 'gay.'