Strange People, Us Sexual Minorities

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A still from the movie Dostana

A still from the movie Dostana

We are a strange people, we sexual minority people.

We rush to defend the freedom of expression of some extremely sexist, racist, misogynist idiots (i.e. AIB) who repeat themselves endlessly about how someone is ‘So black that…’ and ‘So fat that…’ and ‘So gay that…’ and think this puerile repetitive drivel is funny even as it abuses our very existence. But we never raise our voices when secular, anti-superstition, progressive voices are attacked, bludgeoned to death or disrupted by rightwing goons. Then suddenly we forget the freedom of expression.

We are self-righteously knee-jerk in our social media reactions to every rotten thing that some politician or the other says about gay people. But we do not step out on the road to do anything about protesting it. We are far more interested in Ranveer Singh’s arse than in social protest. Hardly has a celebrity to sneeze that we have six columns analysing the sneeze but to what we should react immediately, or even before hand, to avert muzzling or catastrophe, we have nothing to say, like the recent disrupting of the screening of Nakul Sawhney’s documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai (which exposes the brutal violence of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh that involved the mass rape of women and murders on a mass scale) at Kirorimal College in Delhi University, Delhi. Not a whimper about ABVP goondaism in the media, no columns about it.

We have an opinion about everything and we voice it immediately without any reflection or thinking. Just a cursory glance at the venom spewed on internet sites against feminist or secular or progressive articles is enough to show that we are a sick, twisted and trigger-happy set of morons. Yet knee jerk reactions to prevent violence or oppression are never forthcoming. How many gay Indians came out to diffuse communal tensions in Trilokpuri in Delhi or Bawana in Haryana in the last year? No we’d rather sit behind our computers and spew venom against other minorities forgetting out own minority status.

We are all chest-thumping nationalists who will not tolerate an ill word against our country and yet we abuse the democracy of that country the most in myriad ways and on a daily basis. We do not defend the democratic rights of our fellow citizens who languish in jails for speaking about oppression, who are raped and beaten in prison and have stones placed in the genitalia and kerosene poured into their anuses. None of that bothers our patriotism. We are only worried about our own legalising so we can be legimitate arseholes instead of illegitimate ones.

We all claim to be investing in a great future, both for ourselves and for the nation. To that end, we pollute the environment, buy more cars, destroy more landscapes and see no contradiction in any of this. That we are destroying the possibility of that very future does not occur to us.

We all claim to ‘respect’ women and ‘protect’ women as gay allies and to prove that we revel in films like Badlapur which celebrate the rape, abuse, beating up and murder of women in the name of revenge. Indeed, we clap and cheer when this happens and deem such a film a cult and a classic and extremely bold and honest in its treatment.

We claim to be gay (at least in our bedrooms) and yet we love films (the Tamil film I or all of Karan Johar’s (and his cronies’) homophobic, self-hating shit from Dostana to Student of the Year) which demonise and destroy sexual minorities like gay men or trans people. We are so grateful for any representation, so obsequious because we have been acknowledged at all, even if as twisted and sick people, by the mainstream.

We are happy to believe the worst of Muslims and want them to be wiped off the face of the nation and earth (we have gay Hindu groups and secret Gays Who Love Modi groups on the social media) and we sit quiet (no outrage either on the internet or on the streets) when churches are vandalised across the capital.

Yet we say we are sexual minorities who fight for our own rights and as ‘queer’ people for the rights of others. We talk all the bullshit NGO talk about ‘intersectionality’ and fighting alongside sex workers and tribals and Dalits and informal labourers and anti-dam activists and somehow there is not a single queer activist at a protest against the arrest of five Chinese women (many of them queer) at Jantar Mantar in Delhi or down the road against the new Land Acquisition Act.

We are a strange people, we sexual minority people.

Ashley Tellis

Ashley Tellis is an LGBT rights activist and an academic