Dear Friend and Reader,
I write to you today, knowing that somewhere we have common cause, even if we are widely divergent in our views and work. I write to you as I write to a part of myself that I haven’t met yet. I write to you with the hope that in articulating what has been so far a deep unease, barely discernible as thought, I will find more room to breath.
It has been a most incredible, even breathtaking year for us queers in this country. The currents that were slowly gathering energy (from the efforts of many groups and individuals) and visibility for the last decade, shot up in spectacular bursts of colour in the pride parades that happened in several cities last year. This year two more cities, Chennai and Bhubaneshwar, join Kolkata (and there people have been marching several years now), Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
The media played its parts with increased stakes and commitment and contributed to not just sustained visibility during and after the 377 case hearings, but also took time and care to carry the nuances of our arguments and concerns. And queers in the media constituted the QMC (Queer Media Collective) awards in recognition of this growing partnership.
The arguments in the case hearings had all the power of reason, humanity and justice on one side. When the lawyers argued the case, even those of us, who were familiar with the arguments, felt touched by their rightness and the lines of reasoning. Much hope rests on the judgement that is due any day now.
Besides all of these, which were on public platforms, there were several consultations and meetings, some planned, several spontaneous, which led to these and other not so visible actions. In fact, it is this growing and only intermittently visible, largely unsung work that a lot of people in diverse places have been doing that has brought us today to a collective space that is freer, visible, and more full of hope than it has ever been before. The election results have added their own measure of optimism as well.
It is precisely in this time of hope and passion, when all cities are gearing up to have pride marches and queer events, that we need to sit back for a moment to reflect upon the enormity of our tasks and the responsibilities time entails on us. This is the time to do a reckoning of our politics and our directions. It is time for us to evaluate our work and to more carefully calibrate our course.
This summer we saw a massive gathering of public protest all over the country (and even internationally) over Dr. Binayak Sen's two-year-long imprisonment under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act without any proof, without almost any case. Finally the Supreme Court granted him bail on 25 May, 2009. While we may not as the queer movement/s have responded to this, several groups and individuals were part of these protests. This fight for civil liberties has been an important one and as and when the case continues, it will be for us to decide how and in what measure we are able to be part of it.
The right to dissent, to be able to express it, and to have civil rights and fair redressal systems are intrinsic to democracies, and as we, queer people, fight to have our rights and voices recognised, as we fight the stigma of criminalisation and the wrongs of discrimination, we have to reflect on how effectively and strongly we are able to ally with other such struggles for rights and freedoms.