http://historiqueer.blogspot.com

I’m starting this blog, HistoriQueer, in an effort to bring together clippings from Queer / LGBT history as they have appeared in South Asian publications, both from the subcontinent and the diaspora. As the queer movement in South Asia picks up speed, I believe it is very important to document our antecedents and our history to give ourselves a sense of what the struggle entailed in the past, what the stories of people who fought those early battles were, and to realise how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go.

In documenting this history, I am thankful to Sultan K from Bombay who has lent me his collection of press clippings, most of them from the early 1990s, but some also older. Unfortunately, most of the clippings included are from news items in the Bombay press, and the newsletters that came out in the diaspora. I hope to rectify this imbalance soon. I intend to simultaneously carry blog posts on the South Asian community e-lists.

I start off with an article that appeared in the September 1978 issue of ‘Gay Scene’, “a newsletter for gay-communication” that was brought out by a certain Dhruva Roy-Chowdhury from Calcutta. A part of the article posted here was subsequently carried in the February-March 1991 issue of ‘Shakti Khabar’, a South Asian newsletter from London. The article, I believe, is significant in that it is perhaps one of the earliest pieces in post-colonial India that was attempting to speak in terms of an Indian gay (and lesbian) community.

The author lashes out at the hypocrisy of the “intellectual milieu” who continued to praise queerness in scripture, but saw homosexuality as dangerous, as well as “phoni-feminists” who while speaking of sexual politics on the one hand, completely ignored the lesbian question on the other. The piece is uncredited but the author is perhaps Dhruva Roy-Chowdhury himself. The piece further lists out evidence of queerness from the author’s Bengali background, and while it may be wrong in its overall assessment of the women’s movement, and may term the community ‘gay’ as opposed to the more acceptable (today) ‘queer’ or ‘LGBT’, it remains a significant vocalization from a silenced community, of the essentiality of thinking in terms of community, something that in many quarters, is still missing today.

Do post your comments and suggestions on the blog. Happy reading!

Much love,
Mario

INDIAN GAYS: IN SEARCH OF IDENTITY

Do Indian gays suffer from a sort of identity crisis? Yes, they do. The intellectual milieu is fully aware of the situation. The common man, rather the non-intellectuals, are too conscious of the whole thing, and the moralists, and there are many, try hard to interpret it as something humanly unusable, sinister in nature, and dangerous for Indian classical culture and tradition. Yet, all of them go rapturous to analyse the half-man-half-woman ardhwa nariswar theory of divinity! The epic works are full with overt homosexuality and some of the folklores are replete with explicit homosexuality in the form of songs and dances and musical swoonings. One can still hear songs a gay sings in defence of his gayness: Chukri ka goolam nahi – not a slave of woman...

During the Holi – colour sprinkling festival, very popular all over India – boys and men dressed in women’s garb and ogling passionately in company of men are too common a sight to comment on. Bengali Jatra, in not too distant a past, had men playing the roles of women on stage and off stage, well, your guess is as good as mine! Somewhere in Bengal there’s a religious order where men serve Lord Krishna in the style of a sakhi – a female companion and fully imitate the lifestyle of a real woman with names like sakhi Lohta, Radha...

In all walks of life, Indian homosexuals are there either disguising as straight or openly identifying themselves – so is the case of lesbians. At the same time, with the wake of women’s liberation movement India has its share of feminists from the elite and stinkingly rich in money and snobbery class but they are mostly phonies having nothing to do with the real problem – the most crucial problem of human understanding! As a result, the phoni-feminists of India ostensibly calling themselves ‘angry women’ using the sexual politics found them a happy niche in society columns. And the lesbian problem remained where it had been for a long, long time. And there’s hardly anything that comes out to make people aware of its existence, except perhaps the women’s dormitory housing women of assorted occupations or people directly involved in some sort of estrangement from their partners...

In short, Indian gays and lesbians too form a silent majority in this vast continent and are hardly aware of the national and international scene. The slim coverage of news that sometimes spills over from the international {Article Truncates}

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