Wednesday, August 13, 2008

QueerZaadi March

I wish I could have joined the QueerZaadi March at Chowpatty this saturday. After India's Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss pushed for the scrapping of the draconian Section 377 of the IPC, it has given the Gay community in India a tremendous boost. Such a show of solidarity (the slated march) would not have been possible even two years ago, when Gays in the city were faced with constant threats, especially from corrupt cops who never failed to remind them of the law. Vulnerable and defenceless, Gays were reduced to either suppressing their inclinations or going about their lives in a clandestine manner, wracked with fear and guilt. My only regretabout the planned march is the use of the word 'Queer' since it has inbuilt implications. It suggests that Gays are odd, peculiar, bent or somehow not 'normal'. If the organisers of the march had thought about this aspect, perhaps they might have called it something else.
I also hate columnists\journos who write pro-Gay pieces captioned 'Some of my best friends are gay." It is akin to saying "Some of my best friends are dogs." It reeks of condescension and a patronising attitude, even if the intentions are wonderful. Why single out Gays for such special treatment? Do we also say, " Some of my best friends are Dalit\Muslim\Hindus"? Or has the time come to declare ones position in such a brazen way? If so, how awful. Well.... here's wishing all the very best to the March for Sexual Freedoms on Saturday .


A Random Traveler said...

A very sensitive issue indeed. I am an indian student living in Holland at the moment and it is so amazing to see how they handle the same issue here. I mean, it is not at all an issue. I was giving my view on this and i got a nick name too."Homophobic". :)

I think, the awareness should spread from school. Things about drugs, sex and all other things, which we are taught as "taboo" have to be ripped open and should be taught in school in constructive fashion. Like, here for every high school student, they even have a condom demonstration session. I hope our health minister recognises it, given our lack of efforts against population growth.!

Anonymous said...

Hey Shobhaa,

Well said.

I think its important to recognize the need to mainstream the homosexual community as regular men and women with the same rights and responsibilities that human beings have just becasue they're human.

There is no need for a special classification on sexuality in day to day life. But that said, I still feel when people say "some of my friends are gays", the intention isn't to condascend but to reiterate one's openness and to prove that one's not homophobic....that's what I think!

sanju ayyar said...

aham, am happy for you. truly.

Harish said...

Thanks De for this post and thanks Sanju.

yes De, I agree with you..
My best friend is a dog.
My best friend is gay.
It looks similar. I dont even find it patronising. It feels even more derogatory.
I get pissed off when I read something like that.

De, I am happy that you are with us in spirit even if not physically present.

Thanks for being my BlogDost :-)

Anonymous said...

well said

Kris Bass said...

Well, I agree with chandni that saying something such as 'My best friend is gay' doesn't have to sound so derogatory.

Funnily, I don't see the derorgatory sense in 'My best friend is a dog'.

Anyway De, why aren't you attending the march. You could definitely give us the necessary celebrity status!

Double Seven said...

Mrs. De you're too good man... keep it up!...

Arjun said...

I'm pro-choice.
Each to his own.

I don't see any real world utility to judging folks by their sexual preferences.

Many of us so called "normal" folks never made a choice. At least the folks who preferred their own gender over the opposite - thought it through. They took a decision because they felt they would be happier despite the associated dangers from the law and society.

Isn't that what we've always been taught? Follow thy heart!

These folks did.

Rambunctious WhipperSnapper said...

I agree!!

Sometimes people say things and they do not understand the implications.

For eg: When you "come out" to a friend and they go "That's fine by me. I accept it". It sounds real patronizing. I mean, c'mon buddy, I just wanted to memo ya. I didn't ask for your frikin "acceptance". Though I'm sure they don't mean it that way so I let that go.

Kudos on speaking out, though. Not many people have the "balls" to do that in our country. Ok, there is a hillary clinton nutcracker joke here but I'm not going to say anything. :P ..

flygye12 said...

i never thought Queer was derogatory till another 'gay' blogger and you said it..i used to think it meant 'different in a fabuoulous sort of way'...i love being Queer...and to say the truth being gay isn't 'normal' is it?
agree with Chandani and Kriss too...i don't think they are looking down upon u like an object when they say 'my best fren is gay'.

at the end of the day if ur comfortable about being gay u don't care about what they say...
i'm happy being Queer and hope some straight fren will call me 'his best gay fren' some day (when i'm out)

kaleidoscope said...

This is an incredible blogpost.

I live in the US and I am involved in "LGBTQ and ally" activism at my University. On several fronts, I have debated against people who tag others as gay or bi. It is so unfair.

All of us know for a fact that few people in every society live in "marked bodies" - bodies marked by color, size and sometimes, sexuality (which for most part remains an invisible trait unless one prances around). Yet we don't introduce someone as my "black friend" or my "fat friend" or for that matter my "straight friend". Then why flag "some of my close friends are gay?".

Times are surely changing. And in the US, scholars are now arguing "Beyond homophobia. Thinking about sexual bigotry and stigma".

In closing, thanks a tonne for your support and critical insight. It speaks volumes of your heightened awareness.

Al Walling said...

well, uhmm, like ohkaaay,ahem!, gosh..... like i was sayin...hmmm....wat was i sayin?.... oh yea, this was rather interesting.... most def.... umm... ok....that's it...

Mister Crowley said...

...some of my best friends are gays

Well, I have no gay friends, but it probably wouldn't have been any different. Most of the time it's impossible to make out if someone's gay or not (Gaydar theory be damned)...anyway, hope the march goes off without a hitch (the Pride in Delhi was reasonably peaceful).

I'll never understand Ramadoss. He has problems with smoking but is ok with homosexuality?! I really don't get the man.

Tapak said...

Good to get your support on this issue. In Holland gay people might find patronising if someone say my best friend is gay. But in India it will be helpful for most people who are just coming out. But people who are comfortable and trying to live a normal life it might be patronising.

But it is a good point. Sometimes when some of my friends tell phobic remarks about Muslims , I use to tell that because of some people did bad things , you cannot blame all the Muslims.I have very good Muslim friends. I am not sure if it patronise muslim friends if I say infront of them.

Anyway it is good to see your support on the issue.

Harish said...

Dear mister Cowly,

You cant equate smoking with homosexuality. Homosexuality between two consenting adults cannot be compared to smoking which is a social evil. Im with ramdoss, am with his views be it about smoking(though not completely in this case) or with homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

*aham* - This is response to your response to crowley.
I don't think it is about equating homosexuality with smoking. Well, I think smoking is a personal choice, harmful yes, but they do say that on the pack. That does not necessarily give a right to one person to decide on everyone's behalf that smoking is wrong. Its a lot like prostitution, don't you think? As long as there is demand, there will be supply. If Ramadoss is so serious about the smoking issue, he should make sure no cigarrettes are sold in India. Can he do that? No.

To say that its harmful to the environment and hence a national issue, well, save the tigers first. i think their dissapearance is a bigger threat to the ecology than people smoking.

If one talks about personal freedom, then it applies to alcohol, smoking etc as well. If they're that bad, sure, ban them from the market. That'll be more productive!

Just my two bits.

Sorry SHobhaa for hogging the comment space! I hope its open for discussion!

Mister Crowley said...

@ aham - There's enough people out there who'd say that homosexuality is a social evil, friend. The same way there's enough people who'd disagree (both on smoking and on homosexuality being social evils).

I'll play devil's advocate here. Picking up from chandni...if it's a question of consent, then smoking is as much about consent as is a particular sexual preference. Nobody's actually forcing a cigarette into your mouth. You go up and buy some...

Why I mentioned Ramadoss in the first place was his seemingly dichotomous views on 'social evils'. I certainly don't recall him airing any views on the sale of alcohol, or people OD-ing on over the counter cough-syrup, or half-a-dozen other 'social evils' which technically come under his jurisdiction and care. Which is why it seems extremely odd that he's so militant about anti-smoking, and yet so liberal in re: homosexuality.

And I'm not too sure if it would make any sense scrapping Section 377. I can understand the homosexuality angle, agreed. I mean, it's a question of consenting adults, who can, hopefully, understand the consequences. But people seem to forget that Section 377 isn't restricted to homosexuality.

How would you feel if you found out your neighbour was buggering your pet spaniel?

flygye12 said...

@crowley: 377 needs to be scrapped because (a) police regularly uses it to harass homosexuals. we will be able to get together/pub etc more easily instead of having to call it a private party. (b) if u don't recognise a problem exists u can't fight it can u ? NGO's find it difficult to work for AIDS awareness because govt does not recognise homosexuality and calls it illeagal.(c)there is a need to clearly define homosexuality and paedophilia - both considered crimes

Harish said...

@ Mister Crowley

Amendment of section 377 is the answer. Decriminalization of homosexuality. Regarding the social evil bit, getting married to a woman when you are gay is a social evil as it ruins the woman’s life. I am 21+ if i sleep around with any adult with full consent privately. How does it become an evil?

@ chandni
I don’t go crusading against smoking per se. But there is enough research to show that smoking (is self damaging not my headache) and i am asthamatic. Smoking affects me and other passive smokers for no fault of theirs. (Now we can sayy that air pollution due to industries is much more so we need to tackle that first.

I face this issue often, I go for animal welfare, people ttell me Tigers and depleting forests is where i need to concentrate on, When i go saving tigers, people tell me SAve Humans first,

if we play merry go round because some issue is Big for me and not for an other person, then there will be no start ever. Every issue is important.)

I have several friends who smoke, though I dislike it completely, I dont thrust my opinion on them. Though personally I do have a problem. I mean, my lungs do. :-) Chandni, there are some views on which we could agree to agree, and there are some where we agree to disagree. In the smoking bit, i guess we will go with the latter. Let’s hope that we find an issue where we would agree mutually :-) Let us end this discussion on this positive note before De sends us a stinker for making her blog a battlefield.


alx said...

very sensitive issue which i guess was dealt sensibly.....i suggest in d same way prostitution shud b made legal so dat d rape cases go down

Anonymous said...

In the indian mileu to bring about a real change, I wonder if this needs to be more of a grass roots effort.

Bottom to top. Will that be more effective or will this top to bootom gay rights march etc route be better?

Right now the vocal presence is the Urban Elite (elite in terms of education atleast). There are millions of people out there in Ichalkaranji and Ropar and Jhumritalliya and Dispur who have no voice.

I really think grass roots efforts over decades and centuries is the only way.

Still I am glad someone took the bull by the horns and marched ... albeit with masks... baby steps my lovlies, baby steps.

Why am I also thinking that this act is going to take a long time to be repealed. Jaani log, it takes a lot of courage on the part of politicians to do that. Something few have demonstrated so far. Ramadoss needs support. Does he really have that backing poltically for this issue? How much effort is utilised in lobbying?

Another Kiran in NYC

Arjun said...

We're still talking / doing marches... the americans have legalized it

Ellen and Portia just got married!!!

Unknown said...

Hey Shobaa,
Got perplexed by your statement "Some of my best friends are gay". I had chance to read your Column "Gay hunting" in the "the Week" magazine.Below is the excerpt on your column

Perhaps it is the worst cliché to trot out in such absurd circumstances, but say it, I must! Some of my best friends are gay. I love and cherish them more than my gal pals. These friendships go back a long, long way… thirty years? And have endured through good times and bad.

and the column goes on...

i'm a die hard fan of your columns..I just want to be upfront like u...

Unknown said...

A truly motivational and life changing book
This book is really a good book which shows us right path. but i read
one more book named "ONE BOOK FOR LIFE SUCCESS" which is truly
motivational and life changing . .The writer has described in Plain English with lot of examples which is easy to understand...For More
Please watch the video