The Slate Hotels in Chennai’s Khader Nawaz Khan Road is a popular nightlife destination in the city. Last week, the establishment humiliated, intimidated and threw out a young lesbian couple, accusing them of behaving “inappropriately”. When the young women spoke out about the hotel management’s homophobia, there were further attempts to intimidate them by threatening to “release CCTV footage” of them behaving “inappropriately” on the dance floor. And a week after the deplorable incident, the management has not even considered an apology, and instead seem to be attempting “media management”.
As queer individuals from Chennai and who have a connection to Chennai, and as people who believe in keeping private establishments who claim to be ‘queer friendly’, accountable for their actions, we condemn the homophobia and queerphobia on display by The Slate Hotels, Chennai. There is nothing ‘indecent’ about two women dancing with each other, and nothing ‘inappropriate’ about it either. If the establishment was ‘LGBTQI+ friendly’ as they claim, they would have trained their staff to be more sensitive, and asked the ‘patrons who felt uncomfortable’ to leave instead to ensure that they are a safe space for women and LGBTQI+ people.
How many training sessions has the management held to sensitise their staff about LGBTQI+ issues? What have they done to ensure that their establishment is a safe space for queer individuals and couples? What strategies have they developed to ensure queer individuals and couples do not feel threatened by their other patrons?
Further, we condemn all attempts made by the management of the hotel to intimidate and discredit the two young women.
A ‘statement’ is doing the rounds, purportedly released by the three ‘youngsters’ who run the hotel – Varun Ganesan, Jai Chowdhary, and Deepraj G. This statement is nothing but an attempt to discredit the two young women, and to portray themselves as victims of a “media conspiracy orchestrated by two students.” The statement blatantly using the queer movement and our struggles is deplorable and exploitation of our lived experiences. The statement also highlights the hotel management as ‘youngsters’ and hence cannot be homophobic.
As queer individuals, activists and allies we are aware that age does not have anything to do with prejudice and bigotry. As individuals who have worked at grassroot level, our allies and supporters come from all ages and backgrounds. The bid to portray all young persons as queer friendly is another attempt to dilute the queerphobia kids go through in schools and colleges. This is nothing but ageism. Our fight for a just society and safe spaces for queer individuals includes the supposed progressive and liberal spaces. These spaces are not free of prejudice and queerphobia.
We condemn this thoughtless statement, that is a clear attempt to silence the victims of The Slate Hotels, Chennai’s discrimination and homophobia.
We demand that the hotel management issue an immediate and full apology to the two young women, and further take steps to sensitise their staff about LGBTQI+ issues. We also suggest that the owners of the establishment enroll themselves for sensitisation sessions as well – learning the right words and pretending to be ‘woke’ is not a free pass to humiliate, threaten, and discriminate against people.
To Rasika and Shivangi, we would like to extend our support, and hope that their daily lives and their education are not disrupted further by the reckless homophobia and insufferable self-righteousness of the owners of The Slate Hotels, Chennai.
To endorse the statement: http://tiny.cc/l1rnaz
- Joshua Muyiwa — poet & freelance journalist
- Suresh RamdasShyam konnur, activist, Mist, pune
- Bhoomika D. Pandhare, Advocate.
- Gireesh, Writer
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- Vieshaka, Working With Pride
- Valan, Sonipat
- Sandeep Kanabar, Pune
- Moulee, Queer activist, Founder – Queer Chennai Chronicles
- Selva Balaji
- Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher
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- Varun Reddy, Medical student, Chennai.
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- Suresh, Writer, Chennai
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- Arvind, out and proud queer person.
- Nandhini Ashok, NID student
- Shrinidhi Rao, Advocate, New Delhi
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- Jahnavi Visvanathan, lawyer
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