Sunday, 6 July 2008

Queer Dilli Walla: Out of the closet into the streets!

Gay pride in the heart of Delhi

Last weekend Nitoli and I and two of our Naga friends saw a little slice of history in the making: Delhi's first ever gay pride parade. We had turned up partially to witness the colourful spectacle and partially to show our support for people's right to live their own lives as they see fit.

We didn't expect too much of a turnout though. Homosexuality is still strictly taboo in most parts of India's society and there are strict anti-sodomy laws in effect. It is a common myth in Indian discourse that homosexuality historically has been inexistant in India and to the extent it exists today it is because of corrupting western influences. The reality is probably rather the opposite. In the land, which once gave birth to the Kama Sutra and the incredible erotic sculptures of Khajurao and other places, the development into prejudice puritanism was probably greatly strenghtened by the colonial influx of uptight Victorian morals. In fact the anti-sodomy laws in effect today were written by the British colonial masters prior to independence.

Most protestors were young Indians, but there were a few older people as well.

I like the sign "Queer Dilli Walla" - Queer Delhi Person

Given all the facts above, we were suprised to see a good turnout of many hundred people supporting the cause - mostly Indian but also quite a few expats. But it was extremely important to create an openness about the fact that homosexuals DO exist and that their rights are being violated. There was an atmopsphere of joy and a sense of achievement, but also a very real mood of sadness and contemplation as the organisers of the event announced two minutes of silence in remembrance of all those gay and lesbian Indians, who lost their lives for resisting to enter into a "normal" forced, heterosexual marriage. It was a moving event, hopefully the first of many to come. India has a long way to go and many of the protestors wore masks for fear of retaliation from conservative forces. Yet India should be proud that it has now reached a stage where homosexuals finally feel they can go to the streets and let their voice be heard. This could not have happened in Delhi just 5-10 years ago at least not as peacefully as it did last week.

For those who are interested in reading more about this historical event, Time Magazine has a brilliant article about it here.

Nitoli and our friends Chuba and Senti recreating the famous three wise monkeys in honour of today's event.


vikramvgarg said...

So, protests for homo-sexual rights, fair enough.

What about protests for farmers shot dead daily by the police for refusing to give up their land ? What about protests for tribals who are brutally set aside for steel mills in Orissa ? What about protests for farmers under the grip of vicious money-lenders in our villages who are forced to commit suicide ? Your wife is from Nagaland, what about protests for what our army is doing there ?

I am sorry, but I cant help but feel that this high turnout was more ppl coming out for a fashionable cause (read: noticed by white-skinned westerners), than something they really believed in.

I admire your bravery for braving Delhi, especially the harsh weather, coming from Denmark, you must not be used to it.

AryƤ said...

Vikram: I do not agree with your saying that this is a fashionable cause. It is a very real cause, as real as those you have mentioned and as always, the people who felt moved by the cause were there to attend the parade.

I was there because in my opinion somebody's sexuality is a fundamental part of their personality and it should not be criminalized or imposed upon them at all.

Without any offence to your knowledge on the issue, do read the punishments that can be imposed just for somebody's choice of partner under article 377 of the IPC.

Sadly, the turnout was not so high as the last time but the enthusiasm was high as ever.

There are a lot of problems that our country is facing today and we may be moved by one much more than the other because of our differences in ideologies and thinking. It does not mean that other causes are not worth or are not fashionable. Lets just pick one cause and do it well. Whatever we choose. If everyone joins in, the world will be a better place in no time :)


Esben said...

Arya I agree completely with you. There are many worthy causes to support and realistically we all have to settle for supporting a limited number of them. That doesn't mean we don't think other causes are also worthy.