Stonewall Inn Uprising: 50 years

The Night at Inn Became a Proud Shrine. Still a bar, but a highly visible one.June 28, 2019, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is considered the most significant event in the LGBT+ liberation movement, and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States which slowly spread to the world. Today, as we celebrate 50 years of the movement here, is a brief account of why the inn is gradually becoming a shrine.

The Stonewall Inn

In 1969, the Stonewall was part of a Greenwich Village discreet yet known gay scene. At the time, showing same-sex affection or dressing in a way considered gender-inappropriate could get people arrested. Bars had lost liquor licenses for serving such people. Some gay nightspots simply operated illegally. A former horse stable in adjoining buildings at 51 and 53 Christopher Street, the Stonewall was a divey, unlicensed spot with darkened windows, black-painted walls and a doorman who scrutinized would-be patrons through a peephole. But it also had a sweeping, pulsating dance floor that attracted a diverse, mostly young crowd.


On June 28, 1969, Greenwich Village, The New York City Police Department, with a backdrop of homophobia and transphobia, raided the Stonewall Inn, a neighborhood gay bar, in the middle of the night, fueled by bigoted liquor licensing practices. The raid was met with a series of responses that went down in history as the most crucial period in the world’s fight for sexual and gender liberation: a rebellious reaction from the bar’s patrons and surrounding community, followed by six days of protests.
The bar itself didn’t last long after the raid. Over the ensuing years, space was divided and used by a bagel shop, a Chinese restaurant and other establishments, including a gay bar called Stonewall that briefly operated at 51 Christopher in the late 1980s. Renovations changed the interior decor. The current Stonewall Inn, at 53 Christopher, dates to early 1990.
The Stonewall was raided just four days before that uprising, arresting employees and seizing liquor that Tuesday night. But as the police were leaving, someone said with disdain, “We’ll be open again tomorrow.” Gay New Yorkers were feeling increasing pressure and harassment in Greenwich Village and beyond, and the violent eruption at the Stonewall was a result of this mounting tension. Within days of the Stonewall uprising, the police had raided five gay bars in the Village, shutting three of them — the Checkerboard, the Tel-Star and the Sewer — down for good.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera: Icons of the Queer Movement.

Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, threw the first brick at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago, sparking the modern gay liberation movement. She, along with a fellow transgender woman Sylvia Rivera, who was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan heritage, became inspirational leaders of the movement born in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969.
Soon after the rioting, Johnson and Rivera became active in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), the first known pro-transgender group in the United States, providing shelter for the abandoned and homeless.
The months after Stonewall was a time of LGBTQ unity that would not last long. Gay men, mostly white, assumed leadership and ostracized trans women like Johnson and Rivera in the name of “respectability.”
By the time of the fourth-anniversary parade, organizers banned “drag queens,” so Johnson and Rivera marched in front of the parade banner, outside the official event. Rivera was booed when she took the stage in the rally at Washington Square Park.
“Transgender,” as the term was not yet familiar. Instead, words such as “transvestite,” “drag queen,” and “transsexual” were used interchangeably.
Johnson died at age 46 under mysterious circumstances, her body pulled from the Hudson River in 1992. Rivera, who had been homeless at times and suffered from addiction, died in 2002 of liver cancer at age 50.
As the 50th anniversary of Stonewall approaches, Johnson and Rivera are receiving a belated measure of recognition in death that coincides with a growing awareness of transgender rights. New York City announced last month it would build a memorial to Johnson and Rivera near the Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village bar.
Last week, the New York Police Department apologized for the first time for the raid. Transgender activists revere Johnson and Rivera for becoming the public faces of the most marginalized among LGBTQ people, for standing up to police harassment, and for insisting on respect.

The Movement Now
In the years since then, a new understanding of gender identity has pushed its way into the mainstream. That has brought about a measure of reconciliation between transgender women and gay men, who have become a powerful coalition influencing policy on LGBTQ rights and fighting discrimination.
The month of June is Celebrated as the Pride Month throughout the globe. Most major cities in the world have pride marches in June with the community coming out together and celebrating their identity. Many countries have struck down laws that made homosexuality illegal, and transgender people are getting recognition in some, but the work began by Johnson and Rivera is far from complete.

What to watch when you don’t have tickets to Avengers Endgame and the Game of Thrones Episode is Far away…

In Anticipation for the Battle of Winterfell
Something to engage over the weekend… 
 
AVENGERS : The Endgame… Did not manage the tickets? Thanos was right to snap his fingers I guess  ??  😉 
Not team Thanos still? 
Well, You can keep supporting your Avengers’ Stark (Tony Stark). 
 
Here is a list of what to watch when you don’t have tickets to Avengers and the Game of Thrones Episode is Far away… 
 
1.  You vs Wild

Netflix’s next stage in interactive TV following Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Gear Grylls leads an adventure series where you get to decide how to keep him safe. Good luck in the wild.
 
2. Unicorn Store

The show centres around a down-and-out painter who moves back in with her parents and is invited to a shop that will “test her ideas of what it really means to grow up”.  The directorial debut of Brie Larson which also stars Larson and her fellow Captain Marvel actor Samuel L Jackson is now streaming on Netflix.
 
3. Queer Eye season 3

Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Bobby Berk are all back for season three. Did some say .. YAAASSS QUEEEENN!!
 
4.Homecoming – a film by Beyoncé


Coachella to your television, on Netflix.
Beyoncé’s headlining performance at Coachella in 2018.  
New York Times called it “a gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction”. 
Now, you can watch the show in full, with some behind-the-scenes from the queen herself spliced in for good measure. 
 
 
Leaving you with these right now

Section 377- “I Am What I Am. Take Me as I AM

The world had to endure highly atrocious forms of evil in the past that obstructed global progress of human civilization. From the church’s assault on personal freedom in Spain during the Middle Ages to the ghastly practice of apartheid in Africa; Human conscience has failed to protect the rights of their own neighbours. But then, with modernization, came progress which swept the world with belief systems of racial justice, feminism and tolerance of differences.

India’s ‘miniscule minority’ today finally have a reason to feel a sense of pride to have been blessed with the citizenship of a true democracy.

The LGBTQ community of India fought a herculean battle to secure their dignity among the rest. There was a major win in the past as well, however it wasn’t long-lived. But the sense of rage and betrayal from the judiciary 4 years ago, helped create more allies that joined their voices together with the victims, condemning the unexpected and horrendous judgment from the Supreme Court in 2013.

The verdict dictated by the religious right dubbed a significant population of the country devoid of fundamental rights for the way they are. If that wasn’t enough, the Supreme Court of India called the LGBTQ community as a ‘miniscule minority’ and believed that was a sufficient and justified excuse to keep them from experiencing full citizenship of the country where they were born.

Four years later, the same institution atoned for its grave inadequacy to protect the rights of all Indians. The Apex Court accepted the undeniable fact that civil liberties and personal freedom shouldn’t be at the mercy of the whims of the majority. Religious and social prejudices cannot overshadow the lives of law abiding tax-payers who do nothing to infringe upon the rights of other individuals.

Members and allies showered their support over social media and corporate giants like Facebook, Google, etc joined in to celebrate the mammoth victory in India. Top celebrities too congratulated the community and thanked the Supreme Court for rescuing one of the most oppressed group of people from further bigotry.

A law that has served more as an instrument of harassment than punishment, though the latter was not rare, should have been removed years ago. A baggage of the colonial imperial past, which the English themselves removed from their books more than 4 decades ago, couldn’t leave the law of the land. There have been several people from the community who were persecuted under this piece of Indian penal code. Majority of those were persecuted by the rampant homophobic prejudice. The scars marked by section 377 can still be seen in the testimonies of several members of the community.

Professors sacked and forced to take their own lives, children thrown out of their homes and getting fired from workplaces are some of the examples of the existence of this law.

It’s a tragic reality that majority of those who believe in the heritage of India cannot differentiate between a culture where every community had a place of acceptance from Victorian morality of the western world. But that’s what education is for.

As of now, the faith of so many people in the law and the keepers of the law have grown overwhelmingly and even though it will never be able to rectify the wrongs done by the society, it can always set an example for the future keeping the Indian Constitution as the cornerstone.

Section 377- A Christian perspective

Since the mid-1950s, social issues have a crucial part in determining the number of people in pews on Sunday mornings. Many denominations in the United States, tried to hold back on the progress of issues such as allowing African-Americans to be accepted as leaders or even as members within the congregation, one example being the Church of the Latter Day Saints. But today, segregated churches are a rare phenomenon.

Similar to this, acceptance of people from the LGBTQ community is something that many denominations are struggling with today. Many are splitting from their actual groups in order to protest or support this idea.

The United Methodist Church, USA which tends to be more on the moderate side than on any extremes has voices speaking for and against gay marriage. The denomination being the largest of the ‘Mainline Protestant’ group of church that tend to be more accepting of differences compared to the evangelical and charismatic groups of churches, will hopefully make a decision on this highly divisive issue very soon. Other churches such as the United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Churches, the Episcopal Church, etc. have already been accepting LGBTQ people as leaders in the church as well as bless their marriages.

But that is more about the present groups of people that have their own perspective on scripture and believe their interpretation to be more accurate compared to others. Should people who are more scriptural support the idea of two men or two women marry each other?

Taking the six primary clobber passages into consideration, perhaps it could be said that the Bible sees same sex behaviour in conflict with religion. Study of scriptures in Koine Greek and Hebrew however, seems to emancipate these clobber passages from being homophobic in anyway. That is something not many conservatives are comfortable with as it contradicts their understanding of their faith.

That upon a deeper study of the scripture would give a picture of the faith that contradicts the character of Jesus himself.

A rebel, who challenged the religious authorities for their hypocrisy, embraced the outcasts, had murderers as his disciples and forgave those who went against their religious ethics from being killed by a mob of people.

That is Jesus, who personally was completely silent on the issue of homosexuality but had a lot to say against religious leaders who in their hatred and disgust of other for not behaving like themselves, were blinded to their own arrogance.

Reading Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:24-30 in English would make you see homosexual acts as a sin and reading 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 would make you feel that Women should never exercise authority over a man but submit to his authority. Which are why, for the fear of being called archaic, many evangelical churches in India now ignores the sexism in the Bible while promoting the homophobia that they perceive in the scriptures.

It’s a sad scenario where most of the followers of Jesus can’t stand up for people who are persecuted wrongly but instead add fuel to the fire for their entertainment.

I personally feel no reason as to why one cannot be devoted to his faith as well as stand up for people who are in need. I will not be condemning the fringe groups of the Indian Christians that stood for a law that criminalizes the lives of up to 50 million people, as they too have a right to speak their opinion.

However, when those opinions are taken seriously while making laws that govern the lives of people in a country, an obligation arises to speak against them.

Passages from the scripture point mainly towards a deep sense of sacrificial love for one another instead of persecuting people who might not similar to the rest. One of them is as follows:

 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

  • Matthew 22:35-40

And what kind of love would one be promoting when they cannot see their neighbours as human beings but criminals and lesser human beings for being in existence?

Being gay and Christian isn’t contradictory, Loving Jesus but failing to love all people however is.

Queer in Europe expectation vs reality

I would love to give you that story. The story where I moved to Great Britain and life was perfect. The story where I moved to Great Britain and the sky cleared up, my skin cleared up and I sprouted a thousand wings. The story where I moved to Great Britain and queerphobia faded like a distant bad dream. But this story is not that story. This story is the truth. It is honest. It is one I have always looked away from. Are you ready?

 

Wait. Let’s rewind for a second. Who was I before I left? It’s making me cringe a little bit to say this but “the party don’t start till I walk in.” That’s who I was. Vivacious, funny and a bit what they call, “crazy”. I would touch an exposed electrical wire to see if it was live. My first heartbreak was accelerated by the fact that my boyfriend refused to climb a tree with me in the middle of the road. Yes, I know.

 

At the same time, I was living in lies. I was folding in bits of myself, away from discovery. I have always known I am queer. I have been dreaming of both men and women since I was a kid. But I didn’t know how to hold that truth in my arms. I would always find some half-truth to cover it with. Until I didn’t.
Yes, I came out even before I left. To that first boyfriend. To my sister. To best friends from boarding school. None of those times were easy or particularly pleasant. But I tried. I wanted to be my whole self. And in that the UK helped enormously. I can’t deny that.

 

In my very first year, I joined the university’s LGBT+ Society. Almost immediately, I became the International Student Representative. It was going to be a great year, I thought. Alas, it was one of the worst years of my life.

 

You see, when we imagine life abroad, we miss out on a crucial aspect of that experience for people like us: race. We have heard about racism on TV and social media. We seem to be adequately aware of what it means, right? No. We do not know how racism feels or even how it works. We do not know how racism can reside in a wide-eyed stare that makes you recoil. We do not know racism resides in the distance of an arm’s length that makes you shrink. Racism, like the British weather, is a cold you can feel in your bones. A cloud casting its shadow wherever you go. A hand that wipes your name off your mouth.

 

The UK welcomed me with a racist flatmate who laughed every time I spoke. Because of my Indian accent, get it? Sometimes, she would have friends over and they would laugh at me together. So, I lost my words. My social anxiety rocketed upwards. I wouldn’t go to the kitchen in fear of people. I dropped 10 kgs. That’s a diet plan for you.

 

Yes, yes, I know. You’re here for my queer story, not my race story. But can you really separate the two? I am a queer brown woman. And my experiences are coloured by all three. When discrimination holds your throat in its fist, can you tell which fingers belong to race, which to gender and which to queerness?

 

One day, I returned to the flat all happy after painting a closet with the LGBT+ society. My all-white all-British flatmates, surprised by my unusual perkiness, asked where I had been. I told them. Their faces emptied like plates. They had no clue what “LGBT+” stood for. I told them. Silence. The bully was the only one to respond, with a halting “O-kay..?” I had come out without realising it was going to matter. A few weeks later, one of the girls felt it necessary to explain to me that on Facebook she is in a relationship with another girl in the flat, but it’s a joke and they’re just good friends. “We’re not gay,” she clarified.

 

I do not know if I found a community in the LGBT+ Society. I was one of two people of colour there, in an international university with students from around the globe. Maybe I could have done something about it. But I was a fresher in a foreign land – fast losing my sense of self, with no idea of how to be, how to function. And those in charge didn’t notice the lack of inclusivity or brushed it off as someone else’s inconvenience.

 

And yet, the Society added a bit of rainbow to my otherwise greying life. It showed me that hey, queer people exist. In hordes. All kinds of queer people. All of L, G, B, T and more. And they can live openly. That made all the difference. So, I emptied my secret onto this page of an LGBT+ Indian blog, and came out to every single person I knew. It was only the beginning.

 

To this day, I watch young queer students of colour arrive in the country and thank white audiences for accepting them. They talk emotionally about how they are persecuted back home and here, they are not. And the white people in the audience applaud themselves for being welcoming, for saving queer people of colour automatically as they set foot on their soil. Meanwhile, queer people of colour are refused entry to queer clubs for not looking “queer enough”. Queer asylum seekers humiliate themselves to prove their queerness to the Home Office. And people of colour – queer or not – waste away in detention centres. As I’m writing this, there are detainees starving themselves to be treated like humans.

I too – in that first year – saw the rainbow flag unfurl atop my university and believed myself saved. If there was something that did save me that year, it was meeting Lubna. That’s another story for another time.

 

You Will Not Dare to Say Homosexuality is Unnatural After Reading This

“Ohh you’re a gay? That’s disgusting dude. You should be afraid of god. don’t you know, god created man and woman not just man?”

Well, we all or many of us know about article 377 of INDIAN PENAL CODE which states,’Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.’
The interesting fact about the law is, it was brought up by the British in 1860 and United Kingdom decriminalized homosexuality in 1967.

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Image source : instinctmagazine.com

Lets talk about why people are so afraid of homosexuality? Is it really unnatural? Is it really a sin? Is GOD watching us and will judge us in the end?

Personally I am an atheist but if god really exist then I would think GOD is the greatest evil in the universe. Because it’s a mysterious being who lives in the sky, doesn’t get bothered by the starving children but is very much interested in what two consenting adults are doing inside a closed room. ARE YOU FUCKIN KIDDING ME?!

Here are some quotes from the best selling fictions (religious texts) in the world:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
-Leviticus 20:13 (HOLY BIBLE)

The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
-Timothy 1:10 (HOLY BIBLE)

lets move to Islam
“…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)” – An account that is borrowed from the Biblical story of Sodom. Muslim scholars through the centuries have interpreted the “rain of stones” on the town as meaning that homosexuals should be stoned, since no other reason is given for the people’s destruction. (Inexplicably, the story is also repeated in suras 15:74, 27:58 and 29:40). (HOLY QURAN)

“Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, “And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing”
(HOLY QURAN)

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Image source : pixabay.com

HINDUISM

well Hinduism doesn’t really say anything about homosexuality or transgender but we have our so called gurus who teach us that homosexuality is a ‘PAAP’.
But the things were different in ancient India. We have Naradmuni who fell into a pond and emerged as a woman and after that he gets the idea of MAYA. Another story is of lord shiva who bathed in yamuna to become a woman so that he could leela with lord krishna. There’s a story from kritiwas ramayan, two women used to make love in the absence of their husband and gave birth to a boneless kid.

1) People can not digest if someone is doing anything different from them or rest of the society. People who are HOMOPHOBIC takes religion as a weapon which includes god as a tool. These very people who say homosexuality is unnatural believe in a: virgin who gave birth to a boy.

2) The whole world was flooded and a 800years old guy and his family built an arc which carried one pair of all the animals and then they repopulated the world.

3) The World is 6000years old.

4) A Guy who used to ride a white horse with wings.

5) A 50 years old guy who married a 6 years old girl and had sex with her when she was 9.

6) A Guy who have an elephant head.

7) A Monkey man who lifted and carried a mountain from Himalayas to Sri Lanka while flying.

8) A War in which one army have a monkey army and other one of monsters. And the funny thing is monkeys won the war.

I think its enough that religion have much more unnatural things in it and should not worry about people’s choices.

Lets see what science has to say about this.

In 1974, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Studies have proven that homosexuality is common in nature. More that 1500 species are known to show homosexual behavior including zebra, baboons, dolphins, sheep, buffalo, ducks, foxes, elephants, horses, elephants, gorillas, moose, house cats, pics, rats, swan, rabbits, lions to name a few.

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Image source : sciencemag.org

Scientists studying homosexuality are focusing on three factors, genes, hormones and birth order. Studies have shown that when one of the twin is a homosexual, 70% of the time the other one is also a homosexual. This shows genes play a crucial role in determining the one’s sexuality. Its a same case of if a person is right or left handed. We don’t discriminate against or punish the left handed people.

ITS NOT UNNATURAL PEOPLE! YOUR THINKING IS! CHANGE NOW!!!

Feature image source : google.co.in

Don’t miss the Success of Delhi International Queer Theater and Film Festival

What did you know about of Delhi International Queer Theater and Film Festival? Well, it’s a suc-cess that beams a lot of hope to the LGBTQ Community of India. Find out how it went.

Day 1 of Delhi International Queer Theater and Film Festival organised by Harmless Hugs and Love Matters Kickstarted with the inauguration by eminent personalities including Prince Manven-dra, Jess Dutton (Deputy High Commissioner from Canada to India ), Vithika Yadav (Country Head, Love Matters India) along with the founder of HH Vinay Kumar.

The event started with a power packed theatre called Pehchan by Asmita Theater Group and was followed by a number of short movies. The event continued with a play by a German couple – I step on Air and then ‘Hum to Bolenge’ by Sangwari.

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Post that, renowned Artist Piyush Mishra arrived at the venue and launched the collection of short stories. Other prominent personalities including Arvind Gaur, Shilpi Marwah from Asmita and lead-ers and representatives of other partners like Impulse New Delhi, India HIV/AIDS Alliance, Youth LEAD India, Ketto, The Education Tree and more.

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Post that, Piyush Mishra took the stage and enthralled the audience. In his interaction with Harsh Agarwal (President, Harmless Hugs and Convenor DIQTFF) , Piyush said “I see no difference in the homosexual and heterosexual community. They have given me the same respect, same love and affection that I get anywhere else I go. If there is something unnatural, nature won’t let it exist. It’s the conflict of nature and society which we now observe where society is calling nature unnatural which is ironic.”

The event concluded with another powerful play Lihaaf by Asmita Theater Group.

Day 2

The day kickstarted with a lineup of wonderful movies including Boy Meets Boy, Amorfo, My Child is gay and several others. Towards the evening – the play Libaas by Saitan Theater Group en-thralled the audience.

The highlight of the day remained the closing play – ‘Ehsaas’ by Asmita Theater Group. This play was staged for the first time ever and was a monologue by the led artists of the group ‘Shilpi Marwah’

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The play revolved around the life of lesbian women in India which is a subject least talked about. The play depicted the life of a woman and the pressure, violence, discrimination and measures of corrective rape adopted by family and relatives. The play touched many aspects of the life of a les-bian woman in India and tread through sensitive issues that they face.

The event witnessed a footfall of more than 700 people from the LGBTQ community and outside as well. People were also benefitted heavily from the free HIV testing camp by Impulse New Delhi and more than 100 people got tested in two days.

Bismaya Roulo, who is the Impulse New Delhi coordinator said,” MTH community is the second HIV prevalence group in India. The numbers that we got here are remarkable”

Vinay Kumar, Founder (Harmless Hugs) said, “We are happy to conclude it successfully and thank every volunteer, partners and sponsors to make this happen.”

Harsh Agarwal (President Harmless Hugs and Convenor of DIQTFF) said, “The turnout was better than we expected and we could see a lot of people outside the queer community which proves that there is progress. Hoping to do even better next year.”

Vithika Yadav (Country Head, Love Matters India) said, “We are immensely happy that we could partner and support an event like this. Not only people enjoyed it thoroughly but also got a strong message.”

Don’t you think this proves a point that somewhere a revolution is waiting? A revolution that would sweep away the peace of all those who oppose freedom and free love? Do you support Delhi Inter-national Queer Theater and Film Festival? Or are you against it? Let us know in the comments.

 

2nd Delhi International Queer Theatre & Film Festival Kicks Off This Weekend

The 2nd Delhi International Queer Theatre & Film Festival (DIQTFF) will be conducted on Dec 10 & 11. The festival organised by LGBT youth support group Harmless Hugs & Love Matters is considered to be one of the biggest LGBT theatre & film festivals in North India.

Out of 200 submissions received, the two day event will screen around 15 selected national & international films. The line-up also includes a photography exhibition on LGBTQ issues and 6 Queer Plays offering striking reflection of gender diversity.

During a conversation with The MatchBox,  Mr. Harsh Agarwal, president, Harmless Hugs , said “that the purpose of the theatre and film fest is to create a safe space for the LGBT community to watch inclusive LGBT films on the big screen with no shame, guilt or anxiety,  it is  emotional and a huge goose-bump raising experience; and for the mainstream audience a window to understand LGBT people better, by dispelling myths and misconceptions they may have.”

Mr Agarwal added “With section 377 still in place, they face lot of difficulty in hosting this festival annually. Financial support is needed to make this an every year affair. Our effort has always been to make it a sustainable festival, where everybody seems involved, making this a festival of the masses irrespective of their genders, and not just of a community.”

 

Star attraction

This year, the biggest highlight is going to be the presence of Piyush Mishra who will be the Chief Gust at the festival on Dec 11th.

Piyush Mishra,An award-winning actor, lyricist and also singer, Mishra has worn many hats. But speaking for and with the LGBT community would be a first for him.

Mishra will be heard addressing the audience and sharing some nazmein to pay his respects to the community.

 

I Step on Air – Performance (English)

Oxana Chi and Layla Zami ,German-French queer couple who present their story through performing arts.

I Step on Air is a dance-theatre-music performance inspired by the Afro-German activist May Ayim that the couple performs with the use of dramatic expression, innovative live-music, and witty but empowering text.

 

 Schedule

 

LGBTQ – They are one of us!

If you talk to academicians or literature veterans they will tell you that the era of feminism in literature has gone. It is time for the literary world to now focus its attention to this neglected, stigmatized class of people who are fighting for their basic human rights and taking a stand against their oppression in the ‘respected’ society – the LGBTQ. In fact literature enthusiasts would opine that there is already so much being written, spoken and debated on this topic that anything you say on it is stale news. Yet, it is one thing to be spoken about and legalized while another to imbibe this into the society to make their day to day life easier.

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The stigma is so much so that we don’t even allow them to be themselves out in public. They need to hide their identities lest they should be ostracized. India is particularly still behind when it comes to social acceptance of homosexual and bisexual people. I have had two distinct experiences in this regard that speak for themselves.

 

UNITED KINGDOM:

Image Source : Wikimedia.org

This is when I was in UK for my Masters. One of our professors, an expert in Magazine Publishing, was once taking a class on some Editorial aspects of publishing. We were used to her being absolutely vocal and vibrant in the class. Today she was speaking on the importance of being consciously vigilant about gender assumptions while writing mails, especially to authors and subject matter experts. ‘Sometimes some names can be misleading because they can belong to a man as well as a woman. Don’t make assumptions especially if the person is from another nationality because then you are entirely clueless about the norm in that country and also what could be offensive in that culture’. 

 

This was my first experience outside India studying with students from multiple nationalities and what she was saying made complete sense to me. Sometimes names are quite difficult to filter out as female or male. A mistake in identification can be a massive blunder and deal breaker at times. As she continued she highlighted the fact that special attention should be given to the LGBT community as their preferred gender might be different from their biological/physiological gender. Especially the lesbian/gay people do not appear any different from any other person of the same biological gender and so it would be very difficult to tell. Just as we thought she had made her point, she added, ‘ A live example is myself. I’ve been married to my wife for 5 years now and I have faced all that LGBT is fighting for today.’ She continued speaking about herself but I was pretty taken aback by this revelation. I wasn’t used to having the LGBT community declare themselves openly, leave alone declaring yourself in front of a class that you are teaching. But she was bold and confident and the entire class applauded her candid admission and also cheered her for doing so.

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This experience speaks volumes about how the psyche of my fellow students in the Masters was much open to the gender reality and how I was still in the preliminary stages of witnessing this change in a public setting. This was the first ever tryst I had with a homosexual woman and this was followed up by several in our class who chose to speak up after this incident. This opened an entirely new way of thinking for me.

 

INDIA:

Image Source : Wikimedia.org

A couple of years later, while I was travelling in the ladies compartment of the Delhi metro one day, I saw a girl in the compartment who was sneaking looks at me from time to time. I was talking to another friend of mine and thought I was speaking too loudly in the heat of the discussion, so I lowered my voice a little. But the girl didn’t stop looking around at me. I didn’t think much of it and got off at my metro station. I did not notice that the girl had gotten off at the same metro station and was walking behind me.

 

When I swiped my metro card and was walking out I heard a voice call out to me… ‘Excuse me…’ she said.

 

I turned around and saw the same girl walking up to me. I stopped and waited for her to approach. ‘Yeah?’ I asked.

 

‘Can I talk to you for a minute?’ she asked in a very polite and anxious tone.

 

‘Yeah … ‘ I responded again wondering what it was. Did she need directions? Did she overhear my conversation with my friend and was she going to take it up with me

 

She walked up to me and saw me standing… ‘Shall we walk while I’m talking to you?’ she sounded very awkward this time.

 

‘Sure!’ I said and started walking down the stairs. She started walking with me. I was looking at her now impatiently. The silence was making me awkward. My mind was running places – Does she need directions? Has something wrong happened to her? Have I said something wrong in the metro?

 

She finally spoke up – ‘Look, you are very beautiful! And  I’m not straight… So … I was wondering…’

 

Had it been my two-year younger self before I went to UK, I would have panicked in such a situation not knowing how to respond. The fear of unknown creeps in when a situation never dealt with before crops up in your face. But now I was not the naive me… I did not stop, I did not show shock on my face. I just looked back at her and told her ‘Sorry, I am straight.’ 

 

She slowed in her tracks. ‘Ohh Alright…Just wanted to ask.’

 

‘Yeah, no problem!’ I said and continued walking. By now she had stopped walking down the stairs. I figured she had only gotten off the metro because I got off.

 

‘Don’t worry about it.’ she called out from behind me knowing that someone approaching you like that on the streets can be awkward and a cause of worry in a country like India.

 

‘Ohh no, that is fine!’ I said and smiled back at her.

 

‘But you are really very beautiful!’ she smiled back and called out louder this time. I was almost at the bottom of the stairs.

 

I turned around and said ‘Thank you!’ before I walked out of the metro station and she went back up to take the next metro.

 

If you noticed carefully, she was scared to be candid about how she felt because being gay/lesbian is a taboo in the society here. She was unsure of how I would react. She was also very aware that if the LGBT open up in front of people they may intimidate them. She was careful to mention that I should not worry about what happened. This only goes to show that our society is still to become LGBT friendly and we need to understand that the best way to respond to them if you find out is to be just as normal as you would be with any heterosexual person. Too much positive or negative reaction would only hamper the chances of them being themselves. This may have been reinforced through several articles and papers but making this a reality will take every individual to be sensitive and aware about them being a inherent part of our society. They are among st us and one of us.

Feature Image :- wgss.yale.edu

Here’s why you should support the LGBTQ Petition.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”– These were the words of Alice walker in her Pulitzer-winning novel ‘The Color Purple’. And in India after long decades of ignoring the color purple (later turned rainbow) community, it seems the ignorance really pissed off the LGBTQ celebs and they finally are out for justice.

It is the first time in India that the affected people themselves moved to Supreme Court, against the Colonial-Era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which restrict and criminalised homosexuality. The petitioners are the notable faces of the community, which Includes journalist Sunil Mehra, dancer N.S. Johar, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath, and business executive Ayesha Kapur.

What is the petition about?

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Image source : blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/12/11/being-gay-in-india/

According to The Times of India report on June 28, 2016, the petitioners argued that section 377 hurts their Right to Life, guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

The 716-page petition reads, “The petitioners are lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) citizens of India whose rights to sexuality, sexual autonomy, choice of sexual partner, life, privacy, dignity, and equality, along with the other fundamental rights guaranteed under Part-III of Constitution, are violated by Section 377,”

Their petition also talks about the huge contribution of the petitioners in their fields, and regardless of their achievements, IPC Section 377 make them criminal in their own nation, it quotes “Despite their achievements and contributions to India in various fields, they are being denied the right to sexuality, the most basic and inherent of fundamental rights. Section 377 renders them criminals in their own country,”

This petition which was drafted by a team of lawyers, including Saurabha Kripal, Arundhati Katju, Himanshu Suman and Menaka Guruswamy, further quotes, “Section 377 criminalizes the very existence of LGBT people by criminalizing their sexuality, an attribute which is as inherent and intrinsic to a person as their race or gender. Sexuality lies at the core of a human being’s persona. Sexual expression, in whatever form, between consenting adults in the privacy of a home ought to receive protection of fundamental rights.

However, on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, senior Indian National Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar argued for petitioners after which a two-judge bench of Justice SA Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan referred the petition to chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur for ‘appropriate orders’. ”A decision on similar petitions is already pending in the apex court. A five-judge constitution bench is looking into all the curative petitions in this regard.” said the apex court bench.

There’s a history to this:

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Image source : indianexpress.com

In February this year the Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a Curative Petition that challenges the validity of Section 377, and it will be heard by a 5-judge bench. It is most likely that this new petition might also be heard together with the earlier pending Curative petition, “The CJI will now decide if petition is to be heard along with curative petition already pending in SC,’’ -the apex court bench further added.

Earlier, in December 2013 the Supreme Court reversed a Delhi high court verdict that decriminalised consensual homosexual acts. The High Court in July 2013 declared unconstitutional a part of Section 377 that criminalises unnatural sex, saying, “the section denies a gay person a right to full personhood…”

Though it overturned the High Court order, the Supreme Court left it to Parliament to take the final call on the controversial law.

What is the take of political parties on Section 377?

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Image source : tribune.com.pk

The majority view in the political class is against relaxing Section 377. During 2014 general elections parties like AAP and CPI (M) brought the issue on their manifesto but it is really hard to say if they’re serious about it or not. In the Winter and Budget session of the Parliament, the Indian National Congress MP Shashi Tharoor twice brought his private bill against section 377 but he not only failed but also had to suffer humiliating comments from his fellow MPs. While the governing BJP-led NDA government has no particular stand on the issue. Apparently, in the LGBTQ community it is considered that BJP and other saffron allies are not so okay with homosexuality; however after the statement of Finance Minister in support of scraping section 377, it appears BJP have softened their inflexible position against homosexuality.

Religion and their sentiments.

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Image source : intoday.in

When it comes to several religious groups, it seems they are also not okay with homosexuality. The All India Muslim personal law board and a Christian group are opposing changes in Section 377, saying they had “cogent” arguments against decriminalising homosexuality. In fact, they were among the petitioners who successfully opposed the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court. 

However, spiritual leader and the founder of Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his December 11, 2013, tweets revealed “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu & Shiva). Homosexuality-not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male & female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up & may change.”  Sri Sri also mentioned it will be ridiculous to brand someone criminal because of their sexual preferences, “Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.”

It’s time…

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Image source: forbesindia.com

Not only LGBTQ community but also many supporters of equality are religiously waiting for the Supreme Court’s positive response. In their fight for the identity, privacy, dignity, equality, freedom of choice of sexual partner and the basic right to live with one’s own sexual preference without suffering discrimination, the LGBTQ community should always stay together and remember what author Larry Kramer said in his classic novel Faggots “There will always be enemies. Time to stop being your own.”

 

Article Source: PTI, Times of India, and gaylaxymag.com
Feature Image Source: indianexpress.com