Happy New Year!
We hope all your desires and expectations for 2014 are fulfilled. Despite everything that has happened, we are optimistic that they will be. It is in this spirit of optimism and hope that we offer you this edition of our blog
In Plainspeak. The theme of this issue quite fittingly is Queer Rights, given that the Supreme Court of India passed its judgment upholding Section 377 in December 2013. Charles Dickens is said to have made the famous observation that “the law is an ass” in Oliver Twist. He is believed to have meant that the law is an ass in the sense of being a donkey and not the body part that is located at our posterior. Given that he lived in Britain during the same time (1812 –1870) as Section 377 was drafted by the English and put into place (1860) in India, and not withstanding that English and American spellings for the same body part are different, who knows what he really meant! But jokes aside (though humour is essential in these trying times), by now, much has been said, written, debated, cried over, and our spirit of resilience continues to shine through. We are moving ahead with pride, strong in our belief that our rights cannot be ‘given’ or ‘taken’ away. They must be affirmed and they will be.
You will find this claim and this belief in the assortment of articles in this issue. Rituparna Borah’s Interview about her life and reaction to Section 377 of the Supreme Court judgment is a reflection of what many of us feel. In the Issue in Focus, Debanuj DasGupta writes about the limits and strategic deployment of legal rights as a movement building tool for the queer movement trans/nationally, and raises the question of what constitutes justice when it comes to intervening in sites of bodily transgressions, queer desires and quite simply, the very existence of the ‘other’.
Reflecting the uncertainty caused by the December judgment, the author of the I Column prefers to remain anonymous while pondering about coming out to himself. There are many of us who have found ourselves ensnared in a whirlpool of spiraling contempt, hatred and plain bigotry that has had occasion to be flaunted after this court ruling, but we can take courage that despite this, our existence is real and not to be denied. The Review and Voices sections are strongly inspiring. Parigya Sharma’s review of the film Tomboy and Neha Naqvi’s take on the exhibition Bound to be Free offer us a vision of possibilities other than one of rigid gender and sexuality binaries and ways of enacting our desires.
Also in the Voices section, Neha Naqvi’s A Thinly Veiled Act Of Cowardice? questions the upholding of Section 377 and its constructive anger reminds us to not go back into the closet or in our struggle for equality. So does Rudrani Chettri’s video interview about her reaction to the Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377 and about her work at Mitr Trust. Sarah Holland Bacot’s writing on four different Pride parades across three continents that she has participated in, in 2013 in Warsaw, Berlin, Buenos Aires and New Delhi, shows us that pride is not just an aspiration – it is a reality. And Hira Nabi’s Terha Pakistan focuses on Queer lives in Pakistan, where homosexuality is prohibited, legally under PPC 1860, Section 377 as well as by religion.
Georgina Maddox’s artwork in Brushstrokes and Shrenik’s short film Lost and Found in the Video section take us into the intimacy and vulnerability of desire and of being. Asmi’s (pen name) poem Main aur Tum in the Hindi section and translated into English as I am Queer, does exactly the same.
Here are voices of the different truths and realities that co-exist, and quite fittingly, they express themselves in varying tones of assertion, anger, outrage, defiance, pride, confidence, encouragement, and above all, hope. A hope that is based on the undeniable reality that all of us exist in all of our multiplicities of being and that all of us have a right to do so based on the simple fact of our existence, and sooner or later, the law will catch up. But more importantly, the massive societal reaction against the December 2013 Supreme Court ruling has shown that we are not alone; we are supported, we are loved and that this struggle is not only about queer rights. We will continue to claim our place alongside everyone. We are everyone.
The TARSHI Team