‘Greetings from the land of the Sinful Kamasutra’ said Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil while opening the Euro pride 2008 at Stockholm. (Video) But who is he?
He was one of the few Indians to be invited to the Oprah Winfrey show, was one of the candidates for Time Magazine’s World Top 100 Most influential People list in 2007, have been quoted and interviewed by respected magazines and news dailies from all over the world; he is one of the most prominent face in LGBT rights activism and HIV awareness activity; he hosts an annual cultural festival at his palace for homosexual artists to celebrate their talent and their being, yet he is someone who is hardly talked about on Indian mainstream media. A convenient silence, deafness and blindness prevail on us when it comes to homosexuality – but not any more.
I wrote about Prince Manvendra Singh on this space exactly a year ago on my post ‘Its time to stand up and stand tall’ where I said “only when the number of people identifying themselves as queer is large enough and the faces known enough will the society realize it is not something so unnatural after all. And this responsibility lies with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people themselves to come out of their closet and be confident of their sexuality. It’s time to stand up and stand tall.”
And they did. In just one year the queer movement in India has grown by leaps and bounds. There are more popular culture celebrities who now openly support homosexuality, most vocal of them being Celina Jaitly who have called out for gay rights in India in her blog on Times of India. The last year or so saw movies like ‘Partner’, ‘Dostana’ which had both explicit and implicit homo-eroticism and gay rights advocacy. While our cinema and advertisement have always had depiction of male homosexuality albeit in a funny and derogatory manner, we have been terribly silent over female homosexuality. This also changed (very insignificantly) in the recent past, a certain Virgin Mobile TV commercial is the case in point, where a girl tells her father that she is not interested in going out with this boy from her class. The father gets all worried thinking she might turn out to be a lesbian and insisted she goes out with boys more.
We have India’s first ever transgender celebrity Rose Venkatasan on Twitter which in itself is a great sign.
And now India prepares for a never before celebration of Queer Pride with events and pride marches being planned in all of the 5 metros. The month of June is celebrated as queer pride month all across the world to commemorate the Stonewall Inn incident on 28th June 1969 and the series of protests that followed at the in Greenwich Village in New York. [Useful Link – list of queer pride march in other countries ]
Pride march is a way to tell the world that “we are who we are and we are not ashamed of our sexuality.” It is also a way of saying that “we are not going to be cowed down by the norms set by society and wouldn’t be ashamed of our sexuality even when we have to face ostracism.” In India a pride march also means a protest against criminalization of homosexuality and the voices this year is loud and clear.
Bangalore will kick start ‘The Karnataka Queer Hubba’ this Sunday, 21st June 09. The Hubba is a week long event celebrating queer pride with a series of interesting activities, talks, seminars, film shows etc running up to the Bengaluru Pride 09 on 28th June.
Some of the significant events lined up as part of the Hubba are: Queering the Pitch: Cricket Match on 21st June; Dalit-Sexual Minorities Dialogue on Stigma and Discrimination on 22nd June; Release of Human Rights Watch Report – This Alien Legacy: The Origins of “Sodomy” Laws in British Colonialism on 23rd Jun; Pirat Dyke Film Screening of One in Ten and Desert Hearts on 24th Jun; Public Discussion on Religion and Sexuality on 25th Jun; Story Telling Sessions on 27th Jun and more.
Pride march will begin at National College, Basavanagudi at 2:00 p.m and go up to Puttanachetty Town Hall via Sajjan Rao Circle and Minerva Circle and will culminate with a series of speeches as the crowd gather on the Town Hall steps. Last year the march was attended by as many as 600 people and this year the numbers are expected to be even higher.
The March and the Hubba are a collective effort of various organisations and individuals under the banner of Campaign for Sex-workers and Sexual Minorities Rights (CSMR)
(Official Website – For details, time, venue of the Hubba, Official Twitter)
Delhi would have its 2nd Queer Pride March on 28th Jun 09 at 5.30 pm starting from Tolstoy Marg to Jantar Mantar. This year it is expected to be attended by even greater number of people and is going to be much more fun and frolic with wedding bands, rainbow colored flags, fancy masks and lively people of all kinds. There would also be street plays and talks at the end of the march. Like Bangalore, the Delhi march is also being organised by LGBT people and allies under the banner of ‘Delhi Queer Pride Committee’ and not by any particular organization. The official blog of Delhi Queer Pride says, “Queer Pride is a celebration. It is about loving who we are, whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, hijra or straight, and affirming everyone’s right to be respected.” (Useful Link1, Link2, official twitter)
This year Chennai would hold its first Queer pride march on June 28th, Sunday, 4 pm Marina Beach from the Triumph of Labour statue to the Mahatma Gandhi statue. The call to join the march goes out to Lesbian, Gay, Kothi, Aravani, Bisexual, Trans folks and Straight allies as they all enter Chennai to celebrate June as the pride Month. Besides the main march Chennai has also been organizing events to celebrate the pride all through the month of June.
The celebrations kick started on 5th of June by Amour, a multimedia Bharata Nathyam dance performance by Shanmugha Sundaram, produced by Sathir Natya and sponsored by Alliance Francaise of Madras and SAATHII.
On 20th June The Shakti Center and Human Rights Watch organized cultural performances and discussion on colonial origins and everyday impact of sodomy laws.
On 22nd June Monday, 6.30 pm, South Indian Film Chamber Theatre, Anna Salai, there would be a screening of the Oscar winning film ‘Milk’ as part of the South Indian Film Chamber’s Oscar Film Festival, in association with the US Consulate.
On 26th June, Friday, 4 pm there would be held a ‘Support Group Meeting’ for parents and siblings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Chennai. Facilitated by Center for Counseling, a non-profit organization, the meeting will provide a supportive and confidential space where parents and siblings can ask questions, get factual information, and most importantly, meet other parents who are struggling to cope with similar issues relating to their adult children.
In Mumbai while the feelings and emotions to celebrate the pride perhaps remain the same the Mumbaikars prefer to call it the Queer Azadi March and it is held on 16th of Aug to signify the freedom movement for queer people in India. The emphasis of the march is more on the unjust law of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that in effect penalizes homosexuality. To quote from the official blog, “The choice of date, 16th August, was in order to make a statement that while the rest of India had got its independence from the British on this date in 1947, queer Indians were still bound by a British Raj law (Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, introduced in 1860) and Victorian mores that have corrupted traditional Indian acceptance of alternate sexualities.”
Planning is yet to begin with full force for 2009 Queer Azadi but small steps have already been taken. The intention is always to make it bigger than the last year so perhaps we would see a lot of interesting activities from the LGBT community in Mumbai in August. Meanwhile here’s a link to the media coverage of last years queer azaadi.
Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar
Full fledged preparations are also on in Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar however the dates are not decided yet. Kolkata happens to be the first proud city in India to have held a gay pride parade way back in 1999. In 2005 the Rainbow Pride Week was celebrated from Jun 20 to Jun 25 with much stronger participation than before. The Rainbow week consisted of film shows, art exhibitions, discussions and dance performances all meant to create spaces for dialogue and understanding devoid of hate, stigma and harassment against LGBT community. The week long celebration concluded in Rainbow Pride Walk through Southern Avenue, Gol Park, Gariahat, Ballygunge and Park Circus.
This year the queer pride date is colliding with Kolkata’s Municipal Elections so they are reconsidering 28th June as the pride date. I will update this space with more information as I get them.
More readings – 2005 report, 2007 report, 2008, Link4
I have not been able to find any more information about Bhubaneshwar except that pride march preparations is on for the first time there.
The next steps: United effort optimizing the use of New and Social Media
The above listing is enough to prove a point – a point that I have already repeated. It is now only a matter of time that we get rid of the archaic law. A petition filed by Naz Foundation is at its final stage in the High Court of Delhi. During the arguments hon’ble court have been pro LGBT rights in its observation. My personal thought is that right after these two months of queer pride celebration the Court would pick it up and give the final orders which would go down in the pages of history as the true freedom for queer people in India.
Meanwhile there are still more efforts required from Queer community. As more and more city join the queer pride celebrations there is a need of a common national body which could support/promote/document the movement. Right now each city is doing it at their own level but their has to be a unity, coordinated movement, an army of peace loving queer people need to be built which would continuously be negotiating with the lawmakers for recognition of homosexual relationships, family units, property distribution, domestic violence etc.
Use of new and social media is still very minimal in the civil society sector. Internet is the only medium which is static, you can’t see the re runs of a TV news for more than 2 days, you won’t find the newspapers of 2 weeks back but anything you document on your website or blog would show up on the search results even 10 years later. It is important to document the movement on internet. I for one couldn’t find enough content on the Kolkata rainbow pride walk, they don’t have a website or a blog yet which are much needed. As and when smaller cities join the movment it would get even more difficult to follow them all via mainstream media. None of the city organizers have thought of designing HTML support badges and banners to be put up on their website to support the pride which is what young techie India needs today.
Hopefully in 2010 when I come back to this space writing on this topic I would be updating you on the same.
Till then do show your solidarity by writing about it on your blogs, micro blogs, help the movement being documented, which ever city you are go ahead join the march, take photographs, videos, make films and upload them on youtube. Spread the joy put some more colors in your life.
Thank you for doing this. This blog post has been put together well and is very informative. It summarizes quite nicely the Pride events taking place across our country. I hope Kolkata Pride organizers will look into reaching out through digital media. Guaranteed, it’s the by far best way for Pride organizers to connect and network.
I hope the Indian society progresses soon enough to see that we queers are no less human than other human beings and hence deserve no less. I wish nothing but liberty, justice and most importantly equality for all – regardless of one’s sexuality, gender, caste, creed or religion.
Need more info on the Queer festival at Bhubaneshwar. This year im traveling to BBSR and wanting to capture the rally at BBSR. Share more into / contacts at BBSR.
Leaving to BBSR on Thurday 25th June from Bangalore.
peevee contact Pawan Dhall c/o SAATHII Kolkata reg. BBSR festival. pawan30 yahoocom
yaaaaay… i loved seeing the pride posters for other cities
way to go :)
My best wishes to people behind this.
Great post bringing together all the info on Queer Pride in India :)
thanks for all who has joined & supported for Bangalore pride 2009 .. if ur wre not supporting us our aims wre not suscessing..
We got to really appreciate the work done!!!!! keep it up.
Again the MSM network has boycot the RAINBOW PRIDE WALK (RALLY).
I am very ashamed and sad that this MSM network is playing a double standard role by making a wall among our own community. From the beginning this network is creating problems not for us only with some the existing partners of Themselves but now that the ATHB network ( It is the first network working solely for the Transgenders and Hijras in
india, especially in West Bengal) has formed. The violence and discrimination has increased. Now at present that the MSM network is so large and famous in West Bengal and Nationally.
They have not come forward to support or participate in the Rainbow Pride Rally which they were helped many times by contributing something but our network the ATHB has taken the initiative to arrange a meeting and some responsibilities. This is the reason that this that MSM network has issued ” LAW AND ORDER” which they always do is that no any staff of MANAS Bangla will attend this Rally (Rainbow Pride Walk ) otherwise they all will be suspended like Sudip Chakraborty ( Staff of MANAS Bangla). They are continously giving threat to all their staff. All the staffs are in tension because they all want to attend RPW but this is the matter of their JOB.
There are some mischievious people in this MSM network that are already holding strategies and plans to boycott us totally every time. These few people are destroying the name of our community specially MANAS Bangla. These people have not only boycotted our rally on 30th April, but those who participated have been suspended from work, members and partner agencies who were inclined to participate were threatened.
When IGNOU had promised to educate our community members that time also we were boycotted by them. Here the ATHB’s members and there associated families were given life threatening calls and even our family members
were not spared with abusive languages were given, but no action was taken against them still. Nobody was taking the responsibility so, ATHB had taken the responsibility to arranging the meeting not organising.
I am shocked to see this ” LAW AND ORDER” so called notice that there are other organisations are also the part of this MSM network but they are sitting silently why? Are they not speaking against this humiliation and bearing all this one man’s leadership. This is also surprise that such kind of people are getting National and International Awards. These type of people are taking an HIV quota everywhere saying themselves HIV+.
Now I want to see the partners of MANAS Bangla who are also in the organising committee of Rainbow Pride Walk will take any action or not against all this (undemocratic)?
Myself Ranjit Sinha will walk in a barefoot and self designed shirt where it will be written in bold -I AM PROUD TO BE A TRANSGENDER. It would be a Sacrifice from me to the betterment for my Transgender’s community.
Hope such kind of discrimination will stop in our community which is increasing day by day.
Hats off to creator of these wonderful Compilation.
Kumar, thanks! Rather hats off to those who conducted and participated at the Pride march. I only compiled them :)
SUPPORTER AND ACHIEVER
Date: 20th November, 2010
Time: 6.30 onwards
Venue: Rotary Sadan Hall
94/2, Chowringhee Road,
Objective of Supporting Award: Who helped our Transgenders and Hijras community without thinking of any benefit from the community and they really love Transgenders and Hijras community. They think that these communities should also get their identity and recognition in the society. When others people/public/society were discriminating us at that time these people and organizations were standing beside us.
We got many help from them and still getting. Just because of them we are breathing fresh air in the peaceful environment. Today section 377 has gone (still case is in the Supreme Court) just because of their wonderful effort. This encouragement will really help our community in future.
Goal: If we will give Award and Honor to these Individuals and Organizations then these people will be encourage and when they will be share all these with others then others Individuals and Organizations will also think to support our community. They will also start thinking of our community as we are doing with them. In future they will also support us in our movement.
Dear All Friends/Colleagues/Supporters/ Well wishers and Members
This is the first time in India that any Association of Transgender/Hijra is organizing is such kind of Award Function for the Achiever and Supporter.
You are also requested to attend this program. It will encourage our community to work in a positive way.
You can contact Sanjay Ram-9830023153 for more details.
ATHB ( Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal)
Event on Human Rights Day——
Greetings from ATHB (Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal)!
ATHB’s partner Bandhan and Koshish jointly organizing a sensitizing and Advocacy programme with the help of ATHB in Kolkata from 10th December 2010 to 12th December 2010 in Kolkata.
10th December 2010 —- We will reach to all the Government Hospitals and will do Advocacy with the Doctors, Nurse, Compounder and staffs
11th December 2010—— We are going to the Human Rights Commission and other Government sectors for doing Advocacy with them.
12th December 2010—– Get together with all the partners of ATHB along with the Local Councilor, MLA, Local Police with Traffic Police at Padda Pukur Road.
You all are welcome in our programme . If you want more information or want to help or support us then feel free to contact Sanjay Ram-0-9830023153 anytime.
electronic form simply copy and paste here) Time has come for Revolution for Transgender or Hijra in West Bengal Greetings from Bandhan! Still there is no response from you regarding the global fund. Project has come but community with the community is not happening. Staffs are getting salary on the time but still there is no decision has come that we are getting project and where still do not know anything. We came to know that at last week of March we will come to know then after we came to know that we will get result in the middle of April but still there is no response from you and WBSAPCS too. NACO and WBSAPCS is playing with the life of Transgenders and Hijras last many-many years and still they are playing with us and I do not understand that why others are not taking any step against these people? We are fade up with the duplicity and dirty politics. I remember that WBSAPCS and NACO always told us that they will not work with the individual organization, we have to come under that Network and they forced us many-many times. Now we have ATHB network then why NACO and WBSAPCS is not working with us? UNDP and UNAIDS is taking staff of some people who do not raise voice of TG/Hijra. They have taken one person from the community and he is taking his own members of his own organization and UNAIDS is telling everywhere that they are working with the TG/Hijra community in India especially in West Bengal but the reality is completely different. They are only helping their own organization who has very good relation with each and they all misusing of money in the name of community in West Bengal and those organization are doing nothing for the community. There are many Transgenders are leaving house and becoming Hijra. They are going for castration. Many of them are bound to go for the Launda dance to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. I have no project and cant give job to anybody so, my own members are becoming Hijra and going for the Launda Dance which all are document. We are unable to give them any kind of services so, they scattered here and there because of their livelihood. They are much violence but who will listen to them? They all are waited a lot but no any project has come for the TG/Hijra in West Bengal and working with/for our community. When it has been decieded that MSM, TG and Hijra are different then why MSM are interfering in the TG/Hijras matter? Why they will get project of TG/Hijra to MANAS Bangla? When we asked earlier that give us project at that time NACO and WBSAPCS said that we have to come under the MANAS Bangla then why not NACO and WBSAPCS is saying that for TG/Hijra project every organization should come under the ATHB? Why they are silent and not saying anything? All are corrupted so, nobody is saying anything to NACO, WBSAPCS, UNDP and UNAIDS. Meanwhile Manas Bangla is working in all our outreach areas & claiming them to be their own. Our organization is suffering a loss of both human resource & work. Many of our members are lured to join Manas Bangla for work whereas we could not provide them any. We have informed everything to PSU & WBSAPCS. They have informed us that no organization will be supported individually & that we have to work within the network. But due to the animosity Bandhan is always denied entry or any role to play. Each of our valid statement against the role of Manas Bangla has actually gone against us. Plus which was the other organization thrown out along with Bandhan got their DIC in Kadapara for having good relation with PSU. For the last 5 yrs we are left in the woods. In this grave situation how long we can we survive? At this juncture we want an individual DIC & project if our work standard matches your requirements. A single person heads the work in offices like PSU & WBSAPS year after year. This has lead to biased decision making & the objective is lost in the bargain. At this crisis period we are not even empanelled under WBSACS. The network partners are empanelled under WBSAPCS in spite of being in a network. So they are going to be doubly benefited. What kind of game is this? This is a clear cut case of discrimination & biasness. After NACP-III these organizations would be getting support, skill development which they have accessed through the network & Bandhan is not even entitled to that. Still your staffs are saying that Global fund is coming and this fund will come and work with the grass root of people but no project has come still and staffs of Global fund are continuously getting salary. Why discrimination with our community only especially with us. I have registered RTI also regarding all this related to NACO and WBSAPCS. RTI Number is DHLTH/H/2011/00195. I am going for Hunger Strike and happy too that my ATHB family member is also with me in this movement. You all are sleeping and doing nothing with us. I hope you also must be feeling that how NACO and WBSAPCS plays duplicity and give project to only those organizations who has very good relation with them. They must be benefiting after giving project to those organizations. Only Agencies and Organization get project who has very good relation with the them who is sitting in the higher chair in Delhi and playing with the TG/Hijra community. If you see MANAS Bangla misusedmoney many times and recent if you see where written document s also there and Secretary and Treasurer also accepted that Rs.4,30,000 had been stolen by someone with their duplicate signature and still the guilty person not been recovered and Finance department is saying that in that cheque Secretary and Treasurers sign were there. Koshish, Kolkata Rista and Jalpaiguri Uttarapan left MANAS Bangla because of this duplicity and dirty politics and they also informed NACO and WBSAPCS and everyone but no any step had been taken by them. Dont you think involvement of NACO and WBSAPCS are there? Lots of evaluation is going on in West Bengal but if you see lots of our members had been asked to leave job MANAS Bangla. We faced lots of discrimination from you all rather than so called civil society. This is the reason that we felt that time has come for the movement rather than the writing mails only. Now enough is enough, in the name of HIV you all abused/misused our name everywhere but not again. We died already because of all this but not any more. Last 10 years we faced a lot and heard lots of promise from all. Now we are going for the Hunger Strike which is on 1st May onwards and I hope others will also join because it is the movement against corruption also. Regards Ranjit Sinha Bandhan
true… not sure who said this, but it still rings true: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely