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Queer Azadi, Mumbai Ishtyle August 10, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Online/New Media, Pride 2008 - Mumbai.
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Queer Azadi, Mumbai Ishtyle (Sakshi Juneja’s blog, ‘To Each Its Own’)

Why didn’t Mumbai have the Pride march when the other three metro cities were having it?

Well, on June 29 Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore had their Rainbow marches, and as a commentor on my previous post pointed out (Thanks for the info, Sachin), Mumbai is having one too. For those of you who’ve just come in, the Pride is a march taken out by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) or, in short, the Queer community to protest their marginalisation in our hetero-centric society.

However, Mumbai did not have the Pride march the same day as it was happening in other cities (a first for Delhi) in India, not to mention across the globe. And I thought to myself:

1.Why?

2.Didn’t this show a disturbing lack of solidarity by the Mumbai queer community for their counterparts in the rest of country?

3.Was it just the lack of organisation?

And

4.Now that we’re having one, I’m curious, why adopt a different name ‘QueerAzadi’?

I posed these questions to two prominent LGBT activists, Ashok Row Kavi (UNAIDS, Humsafar) and Geeta Kumana (INFOSEM), who are also part of the organising commitee of the upcoming march.

The whole point of having the march on the 16th of August, they said, is to show that even while our country may have got independence from the British, we’re still not free of the laws created and instituted by them- most notably section 377 of the IPC that criminalises homosexuality. That apart, they also wanted to strike a note closer home by connecting queer freedom to our own context, whereas the marches that took place in June followed the tradition of commemorating the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York on June 28, 1969.

Still, what about the show of unity that having the march the same day as the other three cities would have meant?

Kavi called it a case of having one’s cake and eating it too. “Lots of guys from Bombay were at all three marches, so what’s this about us not participating? It’s just that I think we wanted to do this a bit differently. And no, why CAN’T we be different? This way we can have our cake (go for any of the other three marches) and also have our own where other cities can participate. This time we have large contingents coming from Pune, Surat, Baroda, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata.”

Kumana insisted that it wasn’t an organiser problem at all. As a matter of fact, if you visit Queer Azadi, a detailed coverage of the meeting is available for all to see.

As Kavi pointed out, “Sure there are class, community and other differences. At least Bombay handles it honestly. I know there are diferences in Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore too and they flare up quite frequently on the Net. Here we sit down and thrash them out across the table. There is a saying in Hindi -when there are so many vessels close together, they do make noise.”

And finally, as for the different name, here’s what he had to say about it. “Come on, Bombay is DIFFERENT! It is the most corporate and business like of all Indian cities. Do you think any other city would have thought of pink Gandhi topis for the march? It also shows India’s pluralism.”

So there, questions answered. Now it’s time to do the do and show some pride.

In case you too are interested in showing support, here’s where you go:

Assembly on August 16 at August Kranti Maidan at 3.30 pm. The march will leave for Girgaum Chowpatty at 4 pm.

Main issues for protest:

*Section 377, anti-sodomy laws: Quit India
*Forced marriages of gays and lesbians
*Constitutional provision to fight sexual and gender discrimination
*End homo- and transphobia, in educational institutions, workplaces, families.

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