The LGBTQ week is a yearly event conducted by the queer community of NITC and their allies. There are talks, discussions and events on the theme of LGBTQ+ visibility and rights, and primarily centre on how one could make the campus a more inclusive space. While I-INK, the organising committee of the campus’ literary fest has been extremely supportive of the week and has lent its resources for the same, the week has always been the initiative of LGBTQ+ students and allies, and hasn’t had any defined goals and objectives apart from the representation of the community on campus and the generation of awareness.
While there has been some displeasure directed towards the open presence of the queer community on campus, there has never been direct resistance to the week or denial of permissions for its events until LGBTQ week 2019. This year, there were three talks scheduled along with a film screening, student discussion and rainbow friendly Anuragam (NITC’s Valentine’s Day celebrations).
When the students approached the authorities regarding permissions for the week, they weren’t expecting anything unusual- after all, this was an event that happens every year. But they were shut down immediately – permissions for the talks were denied outright, and LGBT week was deemed “negative”, “unnecessary” and “not good for an engineer”. Further,
Subsequently, Dr. Sivaji Chakravorti, the director of the institute was also approached in the hope that the decision would be reconsidered, but the director re-emphasized that external speakers from the community will not be allowed to talk on “such subjects”. When the students requested the administration to at least give an explanation for the denial of these permissions, they refused stating that they had no responsibility to explain institutional decisions. This did not entirely stop the students. They gathered for an interactive session with one of the invited speakers in the parking lot outside the campus, and student discussions inside the campus. There was even queer themed art on display in certain places in the campus.
However, the week was drastically subdued and reduced in comparison to earlier years. When some students spoke about this to a news outlet the Dean stated on record that he wasn’t given any description of the speakers beforehand, although he had received the detailed bios and achievement lists of all the speakers approached.
There is no surprise in NITC being homophobic, not only because of homophobia being the norm in our country, but because the college has also denied permissions for a seminar on menstruation, a discussion on gender inequality, screening of a film on Rohith Vemula and has publicly slut-shamed its female students as well as called them weak and incapable when they requested for curfew extensions.
What’s surprising, however, is the absolute confidence with which LGBTQ rights have been dismissed as unnecessary, queer NITCians as non-existent and the blatant refusal to even consider further explanation or discourse on the subject. These incidents serve as a reminder of how issues pertaining to the entire community are dismissed according to the whims of the authorities based on shallow ideas about what deserves to be considered ‘important’. As for NITC, one wonders about the future of LGBTQ week and the status of the queer population in general.
The writers are two queer students from NITC
Featured Image Source: National Institute of Technology Calicut