OPINION

Marching With Pride

July 02, 2006
Nitin Karani

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Alternate sexualities. Everyone pretends we don't exist. Like the air we breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. You are not conscious of it. Maybe you don't want to be. Remember this song? But don't sing it--speak it: Kuch na kaho, kuch bhi na kaho. Kya kehna hai, kya sun-na hai. Tumko pata hai, mujhko pata hai. Samay ka ye pal tham sa gaya hai.

Time--at least the law--has stood still. Aren't more than A Hundred Years of Locking Us in the Closet Enough! An obnoxious British Raj law, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, stands on the books while the rest of India prides itself on being a sovereign, democratic republic, even the world's largest democracy. Human rights? Yes, but only custom-fit, convenient ones only please--we are Indians! Shame on you, Heterosexual India.

Around 30 per cent of the population is NOT heterosexual. Family: You, mummy, papa, dada, dadi, nana, nani. Wake up and smell the coffee, at least one of you IS gay or bisexual. Queer India, it's time to come out wherever you are and face yourself in the mirror. Breathe the air, feel it in your lungs. No more hiding--it's Truth AND dare. The truth shall set you free. Satyamev Jayate!

The Pride march this year started from the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the maidan and ended at Rabindra Sadan. But this march of self-affirmation shall go on, until India Shame becomes India Shining: "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..."

Pictures from my second Pride march can be found on these links. The first march in which I took part was also the first ever in India and again was held in Kolkata, in 1999.

My set of Pride march 2006 photos


Nitin Karani is a part-time blogger and is involved with advocacy around gay and HIV/AIDS issues.
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#1
Sanjay
July 3, 2006
02:09 AM

I feel that everyone deserves dignity, and I think that legalizing Gay marriage would help this. I feel it's essential that Gays be allowed the right to common-law marriage in order to institutionalize commitment in relationships.

But let me follow up by saying that I don't feel that Gay/Lesbian couples should be allowed right to adoption. And this is because children aren't property, and thus aren't a right -- they have their own needs, which take priority over the wishes of parents or prospective parents. I feel that it's imperative that children be raised by gender-diverse parents (ie. not just 2 guys, or just 2 women). To do otherwise could create gender ghettoization, which would be both unhealthy for children and also unhealthy for society.

If you feel otherwise, then I suggest Gays & Lesbians get together to buy an island and turn it into a country. How long a Gay-only/Lesbian-only community would last as an independent society, I leave to you to ponder.

#2
Pais
July 3, 2006
02:46 AM

Why, thank you Sanjay!!!! Your magnanimity brings tears to my eyes....honestly
But tell me, when you wrote "island", you meant a gas-house, did you not??? Come on now...

#3
Sanjay
July 3, 2006
03:01 AM

Pais, those are your own assertions, and spare me your sarcasm or prepare to hear mine. I repeat, children are not property to be demanded as a right. Heterosexual couples have no automatic "right" to adopt - it's based on their suitability for the needs of the child, regardless of what their own aspirations are. Children are not an ornament.

In my opinion, gender apartheid is not positive for children or for society, and there should be gender-diversity in the nuclear family, in order to provide necessary balance.

Like I said, if you feel you can do better than what I've suggested, then form a society, and show your superior results. Whether island, continent or planetoid is besides the point - even though that's the only part of my post you chose to focus upon. The point is that those who feel they have a better idea for social setup shouldn't just sit around and pout, they should go out there and form that better society which they can then hold out for others to flock to.

Thanks for the tears, though. Go ahead and keep crying if you feel it'll make your hopes and dreams come true.

#4
Sanjay
July 3, 2006
03:11 AM

Anyway, I believe that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon, just like left-handed people and right-handed people. It's true that there aren't as many left-handed people as there are right-handed people, but it's a minor difference that people shouldn't be persecuted for. To me, homosexuality is biological and innate. I hate the idea of parents trying to coerce their homosexual kids by forcing them to act hetero. That's a cruel thing to do. If you force someone to marry a person of the opposite gender against their will, it will only lead to hardship in the marriage. This is another reason why I dislike the practice of arranged marriage, since it's to satisfy the parents more than the prospective marital partners.

People who are born left-handed or homosexual need acceptance for who they are, and not stigma. There is no crime there, and thus there should be no blame. But I'll warn that practical institutions need to be created, ie. common-law marriage, because otherwise there is the stereotype about the gay lifestyle being uncommitted and hedonistic. Gays and Lesbians should think beyond mere protest mentality, and voluntarily evolve mature institutions to generate social credibility that has not yet reached the stage of legal sanction.

#5
Dipendra
July 3, 2006
04:38 AM

Nitin:

One correction. The gay population is just 3%, not 30% as you claim. The statistic that I quoted is derived from cross-country surveys. I think you need to be precise to ensure the success of the gay cause.

There can be no discrimination on the basis of sexuality. The Indian penal code is a standing indictment on human rights and will need to be revised. This said, one can not exaggerate numbers either.

#6
Kush
URL
July 3, 2006
09:45 AM

"The gay population is just 3%, not 30% as you claim."

Do not worry my dear Dipendra Uncle, wait for New rape law, you will be proved very soon wrong!!!

Any physical contact between a men vs women to be termed as rape, for that no need of any medical examation, only a raped women's own statement is sufficient to put behind the Men behind the bar and the women will be awarded Rs.2500/- to Rupees 2 Lacks rupees the moment a women will register a Rape case.

Still I wonder , are a Men really capabale to rape a women without consent of her for a mutual sex?

Where as I heard a lot of Uncle can't find the hole and got balst from thier wives!!!!
Wonder who is lier!!!

#7
sami
URL
July 3, 2006
10:07 AM

It always makes me wonder how some people try to so forcefully try to impose their own preferences onto others, calling homosexuality a birth defect, a disease or an outright sin, whichever might better suit the occasion. If I am a human being expecting everyone to respect me as one, and my choices, how can I not do the same with the others?

#8
Sanjay
July 3, 2006
11:42 AM

Because sexuality is a sensitive issue, and homosexuality is regarded by many as unnatural/deviant/unorthodox behavior. In traditional conservative societies where sexual intimacy is mainly justified within marital life as part of procreation, homosexual behaviour is regarded as a threat to traditional family values.

I feel the solution is for Gays/Lesbians to counter stereotypes of sexual flamboyance and promiscuity, by showing that they too support monogamy, commitment, reserve, and stable social institutions. I think this should include not challenging the primacy of the traditional gender-diverse procreative marriage as the basis for the nuclear family, because the upbringing of children should not be subject to social experiments nor subsumed by demands for equality.

I also gotta complain that the Gay Pride people seem to give moral equivalence to all societies, as if everybody treats gays/lesbians in the same way. Remember, if you travel a few hundred miles to NorthWest Frontier Province and Afghanistan, they'll drop a wall on you. Please don't make me roll my eyes by equating that kind of rabid barbarism to the Indian penal code.

#9
balaji
July 3, 2006
02:59 PM

>>Still I wonder , are a Men really capabale to rape a women without consent of her for a mutual sex?

Where as I heard a lot of Uncle can't find the hole and got balst from thier wives!!!!
Wonder who is lier!!!>>

brilliant.

what a fantasy! should be writing for all pondy sites.

wholly unholy argument.

just trying to pick holes in the argument.

interesting abbrev.

Klu Klux Klan

Utterly frustrated

Specially hallucinated

Hardly any sense.

#10
Nitin Karani
URL
July 4, 2006
06:49 PM

Sanjay's entitled to his opinions on adoption by gay or queer people. Queer people need not have an island or planet for equal rights, though a lot of people on both sides of the "sexual divide" would certainly like that--we CAN have the same rights on Planet Earth or wherever the breeders go. Often breeders do not pause to think whether they are mentally/emotionally and materially equipped to have children. Queer people should have the same rights and duties to raise kids responsibly (or irresponsibly).

And Pride rallies are not just about protest. They are about not being ashamed or guilty about your orientation/gender identity; they are about not having to hide in the closet.

I did not claim that 30% of the population is gay--I said NOT hetero. In fact, the "Kinsey Reports of 1948 assessed that between 90 to 95 percent of the population were "to a certain degree bisexual." And a Gallup poll in the US a couple of years ago, said that Americans believe 20% of the population is gay or lesbian. I quite agree that adult exclusively gay people may be about 3-4% of any population but that does not include bisexuals and the rainbow of alternate sexualities. In the United States during the 2004 elections, exit polls indicated 4% of all voters self-identified as gay or lesbian. You will find different answers to the numbers question depending on time and place--sexuality is after all believed to be fluid and located on a continuum. My 30% figure is based on some surveys conducted in India decades ago. The number is actually irrelevant--my point was there could be at least some queer people in every family. How does the success or otherwise of the queer cause get affected by numbers? Will hetero society decide whether or not to treat us fairly or how much respect to give us based on our numbers? For that matter, will it decide on equal rights based on whether we are "born" or "made" gay?

Or does it depend on how "straight-acting" we are? Or how hypocritical we are in "supporting" monogamy and so-called stable institutions? Do we have to take an oath (and follow society's example and make a mockery of these beliefs behind closed doors)? Practise what you preach. And even then do not expect assent by everyone IF you also profess a belief in democracy and human rights for ALL.

Sanjay, I am thankful I do not stay anywhere but India. However, that does not condone your wrongs against the queer community. If homosexuality and bisexuality is still a crime in India and we do not have the equal rights, you can go ahead and roll your eyes until they pop out but the fact is each and every hetero has to take responsibility for it.

#11
Sanjay
July 4, 2006
08:18 PM

Here goes Nitin on a rant.

"that does not condone your wrongs against the queer community. If homosexuality and bisexuality is still a crime in India and we do not have the equal rights, you can go ahead and roll your eyes until they pop out but the fact is each and every hetero has to take responsibility for it."

Nitin, what wrongs have I committed? I think I stated my position clearly, and I don't see that my position on gender-diversity amounts to a wrong or a crime. Please state to me where I called homosexuality a crime.

So I've got to take responsibility (ie. culpability) for something that others have done? Sorry, but now you're sounding like a militant gay activist, and those are precisely the ones who turn off the wider population and thus keep homosexual rights from advancing.

No, I'm not going to accept culpability for discrimination that I haven't committed, just because you feel that "every hetero has to take responsibility for it."

I'm in favour of advancing gay rights to provide institutional protections against discrimination. But if the extremists are going to ask for everything they can possibly dream up on a whim, upto and including gender-ghettoization, then it's only going to tarnish the legitimate demands of mainstream gays.

Hey, go ahead and fume if you want, it's no skin off me. You'll just keep beating your head against a wall, and end up without achieving any tangible advances in your lifetime. But some people are happier wallowing in their sense of outrage and self-pity, than they are with actual gains. If you want respect, you'll have to convince society to like you -- whining, demanding and insisting all day won't get you a damn thing. That's the way it is for everybody. You want more? Get in line -- there's a whole lot of other groups ahead of you. And unlike you, they have better numbers and better prospects.

Please keep turning up your nose at "those heteros" -- if you keep saying "them" instead of "we" then you're only doing your part to keep yourself disenfranchised. Since you're so hung up on the word island, you may have forgotten that no person is an island, and keeping yourself that way is only going to keep you adrift.

Happy drifting, sailor.

#12
Nitin Karani
URL
July 5, 2006
05:13 PM

You may not be willing to take responsibility but that does not absolve you. What have you done to advance our "legitimate, tangible rights"--besides commenting here, sitting in judgment on me and "militant gays", giving us your 'wisdom' on why there should be no adoption rights for gays, coming up with fanciful concepts like gender-ghettoization, and calling gay rights as "whims"?

If my "rant" doesn't prick your conscience, why react?

I am not here to be liked by anyone. If I cared about what 'people' think or wanted respect or acceptance, I would still be closeted.

The bigger danger to us and human rights are 'liberals' like you -- those who remind us they are being less barbaric than tribes who kill people for being different, those who want to banish us to an island for simply asking more than what they think we deserve.

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