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Number 05- World Social Forum

Editorial, April 2004

Dear Friends,

Welcome to a new issue of SCRIPTS, brought out once again by your enthusiastic, though eccentric, editorial team from LABIA. This is an exciting year for us. Not only have we dealt with the slumps of 2002, but after our re-emergence in 2003 in a new avatar, we have had a great time producing the last issue of SCRIPTS and working for Larzish, the first international film festival on gender and sexual pluralities in Bombay.

This year is our 9th anniversary (yes, LABIA nee Stree Sangam completes 9 years of existence this April, thereby becoming the oldest active lesbian and bisexual women’s group in India). And we are brimming with plans, heady with the intense discussions and interactions at Larzish and the World Social Forum that took place this January in amchi mumbai and the collective work of last year. We are worried and wary too – of the rhetoric of this election year, the continuing struggle for justice for the survivors of the Gujarat genocide, the Indian government’s stand on the Section 377 petition in the Delhi High Court, the uncertainty over the Brazilian resolution, the unrelenting abuse in the name of the war against terrorism, the continuing occupation of Iraq, the growth in power of the fundamentalist forces around the world and in our country, and the increasing violence against women and particularly lesbians which is unabated as the cases of lesbian suicides rise. But most of all, we are hopeful, that all perhaps is not lost and will not be, till we have each other, our beliefs, and the optimism and courage to act.

It is with all these thoughts that we bring you this issue of SCRIPTS. As a lesbian, bisexual and transgender women’s activist group, our concerns centre around issues of visibility, violations, articulation and assertion of our rights, and creation of spaces for all of us, individually and collectively. At the very basis of our politics lies an analysis and critique of hetero-normative patriarchal sexuality, its construction and continuous reproduction. But this analysis has to be constantly understood and articulated with its intersections with the politics of gender, race, class, community, religion, nation states, militarism, economic globalisation and fundamentalism. Our actions, as do our alliances, stem from these intersections. The last few months, since the publication of the last issue, have been full of discussions around these concerns.

It all began with Larzish which was a major step towards creating a queer centred space which was both political and creative. The packed screenings, many eager people sent away from the gate, the enthusiasm through the three days, the intensity of the discussions, made the festival a runaway success. The large variety of issues covered by the films, the performances and the discussions gave voice to the hitherto unspoken politics of sexuality in a public space. These discussions continued at the WSF which brought to Bombay, with an unprecedented immediacy, a global language of resistance, protest and connection, and a season of dreaming and creating a different world.

As a further continuation of these discussions, we bring to you, the presentations made at these platforms by Alejandra Sarda, Mariame Helie-Lucas, Naisargi Dave, and Nivedita Menon, which discuss some complex and crucial intersections. They also point towards a sharpened politics which we must engage with and which we need to take further.

This SCRIPTS also includes reports of some activities happening in this city interspersed with some personal and some reflective experiences. The debate around same-sex marriages in the US was an interesting and heartening interlude in the otherwise grim scenario of news from that part of the world, and we reprint here two compelling articles. We also continue our endeavour to constantly relocate our politics into our lives, our bodies, our selves in this issue as well and bring you some poems and a letter from some of our regular and some new contributors.

In keeping with our efforts to create spaces for creative and dynamic queer centred spaces in the city, LABIA is organising the “April Jollies” an open air, open mike event on the 17th of April, 2004. This issue of SCRIPTS will be released at this gathering where we hope that the queer community of the city will come together to share their poetry, narratives, comic/tragic acts, drag performances, songs, dances, and other performances. Partial proceeds of the event will go towards fundraising for a meeting of isolated, non-urban lesbian, bisexual, women who love women being organised in July this year. We will keep you posted on these events in this space.

Finally, we would like to thank each one of our contributors for sharing their writings and ideas freely with us, sometimes at short notices and others for patiently waiting for this issue to be out. We hope that you will enjoy reading this issue as much as we have enjoyed putting it together, and will continue to support us and join us in our joys and actions. Do write back to us and we will try to include some reader led discussions in our next issue.

Till dykedom come,

Shalini (for the editorial team).

 P.S: Read on a T-Shirt: Why have sex when you can have gender? Comment anyone?