Dear friends, comrades, and fellow queers,
It is with great joy and pride with which we bring this 7th issue of SCRIPTS to you. No, it isn’t that we have discovered some deep and underlying significance of the number 7, but that we would like to celebrate, in good old metric fashion, the tenth anniversary of our existence as a collective.
LABIA / Stree Sangam completed ten years of being this April. It has been a good, though often terrifyingly tenuous trajectory. Elsewhere in SCRIPTS (editorial of the October 2003 issue, available on request) there is a detailed mapping of our journey. Suffice here to say that we are happy to have made it so far given the deliberate changes that we made and the upheavals that were beyond our control, and have made it till here with some members who have been around since that very first exciting meeting/party at Gorai beach ten years ago and so many more who have joined since.
In the ten years that we have been around as a collective, there has been growing discussion and visibility of issues of LBT women. Many more political and cultural spaces have opened up and more individuals and groups have joined the struggle for change and justice. We ourselves have changed from a support collective to a more visible queer feminist action and campaign group. Our dialogues, debates and concerns have taken several turns.
So we bring out this issue of SCRIPTS as testimony not only to the ten years of our existence as a collective, but also to the history of lesbian activism in this country, our continued existence, our increasing visibility and our increasingly nuanced politics. This issue is testimony to the existence of LBT women in this country, of our lives, our collectives, our political and personal stories and struggles. It is testimony to our histories, our loves, our desires, our humour, our idiosyncrasies, our complexities, our crazy selves and our sane and insane lives. It is testimony to the fact that we exist as part of this society, even if often against its grain. We were here, we have always been, and we intend to stay. We will fight for and have our civil rights, and our social and cultural spaces. We bring this issue to you as an offering of hope.
The present though is still somewhat terrifying and our dream of recognition and change still only that. In the last six months itself there have been a number of reported cases of lesbian couples running away from homes, wanting to get married, attempting suicide, and facing violence from communities and families. Several women are displaced, sometimes more than once, because they challenge the gender binaries that the world lives by.
Lives of women and trans persons thus displaced and estranged from their familiar and familial structures is extremely difficult to say the least. Coupled with the pain of displacement and rejection, is the frustration of trying to manage a dignified and decent living in a hostile working environment often with few marketable skills. We see concerns of livelihood and skill building as some of the major issues that we would like to work on in the next few years.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, in our very own Mumbai, we are beset with a State which is hell bent on cleansing and globally marketing this city of diversities and differences. So while on one hand the government is busy demolishing slums and removing hawkers and other “unwanted elements,” policing lovers (straight and gay) from the surface of this city, they are also busy trying to ban women dancers in beer bars thereby depriving more than 75,000 women of their livelihood. The language of “moral policing” used by the State and the defenders of its actions reeks of intolerance and narrow mindedness. We find common cause in our politics with the other displaced in the city and with the women whose livelihoods are at stake.
Since this March 8, several women’s and other groups found common cause with us and participated in large numbers in the “million voices against 377” campaign. We bring you some glimpses in this issue. In this issue we bring you an update on the Supreme Court Petition on Section 377 of the IPC and continue with our series of short pieces on groups around the country with a write-up on Sappho from Calcutta and a list of LBT groups in the country
But best of all, in this issue we bring to you some wonderful writing by several new and some old contributors, writings by lesbian, bisexual and queer women living in India or of desi-origin. In these pages we have poetry, fiction, travel experiences, pages from journals, an article on “Same sex marriage in the Indic tradition,” and some lovely artwork and photographs. We are happy to say that we have three other languages besides English in these pages as well. Our enhanced team of editors and designers has had a great time working on this issue and we hope that you have as good a time reading. Do write back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and send us material you want published.
Here’s wishing every one the best for the next ten years, cheers!
Till dykedom come,
For the LABIA editorial team28th May, 2005.
Editorial, 28th May, 2005