Posted by Rajneesh Meena
The news of the Pride March being banned in Istanbul hit Facebook feeds. The news was old and the news headlines of rubber bullets being used against the people who defied the ban, re-surfaced. This year marks the third year of Istanbul Pride being banned, in a row.
A third ban on the one march that happens once a year for a few hours in a country that’s supposed to be relatively LGBTQ friendly than other Islamic countries. Queer people, seeing this, were pissed would be an understatement but the sadness was overwhelming, and so was empathy for the people of Istanbul.
Most of us did what people usually do on a post: read the comments to see the reaction of the people. Naturally, as the post was recirculated, new comments were made. First came the apologias: “No, this is not the case. The authorities just have a problem with the party”, some laments, some anti-Islamic comments and then this: “I believe the Pride March should match the sensibilities of the place.”
There are reasons for disagreement that we will get into in a while but the debate brings back things we had read over the last year (and yes, this year had been extremely troubling), what with the anti-homosexuality bill in Egypt and the persecution that doubled after a rainbow flag was waved at a concert.
We saw Azerbaijan where people were rounded up under the name of modesty and Chechnya where the second gay Holocaust happened. Why are we even going there? Our country voted against the ban on death penalty for blasphemy, homosexuality and adultery (the irony of the custodians of culture is not lost on us).
I guess people without legal human rights are supposed to stay in a perpetual state of misery.
When the Supreme Court gave us hope for a life of dignity, Subramanian Swamy had the audacity to promise to crack down on us with the public immodesty law. Kerala tried to help our trans siblings with jobs, but no attempts were made to make accommodations easier. As a result, trans people had to resign.
This has been a remarkably bad year for non-cis people, the demonetisation debate completely forgot the trans community. Demonetisation broke the backs of people sustaining themselves away from the formal sector, and like always, the religious right doesn’t care, the left… well, the left is busy arguing the pros and cons of DeMo.
The present ruling party isn’t happy with how screwed up things are, with misuse of solicitation laws and the socially approved fear of anything that doesn’t fit in the gender binary. A new bill is about to be introduced in the Parliament, which in its present form is proposing 6 months to 2 years imprisonment for begging with a fine.
Coming back to Pride, all of us, at least most of the people from the LGBTQIA+ community are aware of the ‘nanga naach’ controversy of the Pune Pride March. Bouncers marched along with us this year. Before our conservative friends start typing out justifications, nudity is never allowed at Pride anyway. So, when people talk about the dignity of Pride, what exactly are people getting at? No post-Pride party?
We don’t see anyone talking about making partying illegal for straight people, so why us? I guess people without legal human rights are supposed to stay in a perpetual state of misery, lamenting being born a certain way. After all, a day of celebration is too much.
So what exactly is a dignified Pride march? We have wrecked our brains thinking about it. Perhaps sarees for women and dhotis for men? Or maybe considering public sensitivities, we can carry the Indian flag instead of the rainbow one, and stand up at attention for the National Anthem.
I am not getting into what the rainbow flag signifies, and how reminding people to stand at attention for the anthem of a nation whose caretakers refuses to see them, is asinine. Most importantly, dress codes would exclude the genderqueer and/or trans folks who do not look ‘male/female enough’.
People ask why are the ‘cis’ cross-dressing or why are people dressed so flamboyantly? Visibility. The basic idea behind the Indian Pride marches and all the queer events across the year is visibility. Queer people contributed immensely to humankind. From Alan Turing to Leonardo da Vinci, from science to art.
history has straight-washed most of us, if not all of us.
We fought the British in India, we fought the Nazis in Germany, but history has straight-washed most of us, if not all of us. Not so recently, there was an entire article about some person asking where the queer contributions in tech are? Just because they don’t have the word ‘gay’ in their work, is enough reason for people to consider them straight.
So no, Pride march is to say we aren’t straight and/or cis, that you need to take your heteronormative glasses and look at us, that we have been straight-washed long enough. That is the movement. All of us, whatever our orientation, how loud we are, how flamboyant we are, how shy we are, and whatever our caste, religion or class, WE ARE HERE. WE ARE QUEER. WE AIN’T GOING ANYWHERE.
Before we wrap up this long rant, pride is not only a protest. It’s also a celebration. It’s a celebration that despite the persecution and homo/transphobia, we continue to live our truth, that despite all the issues our birth families might have, we have an entire family of our choosing out there who know our struggles and accept us without wanting us to conform (except the queer Bhakts but we are sure they will come around soon).
A family of people who know what we go through, in front of whom we take our masks off and laugh, cry, dance, without shame or judgement. At Pride, we are with people we belong to. When we claim the streets, we get to be the way we will be in a world free of discrimination.
You might not remember, but we do, that the first Pride was a riot and a black trans woman threw the first brick. We have to improve the movement, not ruin it. So, my friends who think we still need to bend over backwards to be more ‘acceptable’, please hug a cactus.
Also Read: Two Women, A Child, And The Right To Privacy
Rajneesh Meena is volunteering with Love Matters India and is pursuing bachelors in CE. A queer poet, Rajneesh has performed at open mics and is interested in calling out misogyny, homophobia and transphobia within and without the community.
Featured Image Credit: PinkNews