Posted by Smriti Gupta
From the first pride parade in Kolkata in 1999, to the multiple parades all across India in cities like Bhopal, Lucknow, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Pune, Ahmedabad and many more , the LGBTQ Movement has come a long way. Even in the absence of any kind of legal protection and recognition, the community is working tirelessly to create awareness and bring about a paradigm shift in the ethos of the morality and culture of the Indian society. With organisations like the Naz foundation, Humsafar , Alternative Law Forum working to provide members of the LGBTQ community with counselling , guidance , support and legal help; the movement has solidified its hold. There are queer film festivals in different parts of India which celebrate the diversity across the sexual spectrum while initiating discourse and discussion, along with showcasing art that portrays the reality of the community. These have helped to engage civil society in a dialogue about sexuality. The Supreme Court Verdict of 2013, which outlawed gay sex by upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Court was a blow to the movement and a dismal display of the regressive mindset of the Indian polity.
But, it wasn’t always like this. Only in the early 90s was homosexuality brought into the force of mainstream discussion when reformers started bringing ideas of exploring one’s sexuality . The first public debate on homosexuality in India took place after a short story called Chocolate which depicted a relationship between two men was published by Pandey Sechan Sharma (under the pen name- Urga). This discourse started attracting nationalists and freedom fighters as well. Mahatma Gandhi, considered the Father of the Nation, called homosexuality an unnatural vice which further shaped opinions against the community. Noted writers like Ismat Chugtai tried to make such ideas normal by portraying them with delicacy and exploring the contours of homosexual relations. With reforms in literature and more visibility, the movement finally gathered steam and took off in the form of India’s First Rainbow Pride Walk. All this took place within the astonishing realm of gender fluidity and common androgynous narratives in India’s own mythology.
Therefore, there is much to the movement as it stands today, which is worth celebrating. The goal of attaining recognition and commanding respect isn’t very far and soon we will be able to grasp the attention of the polity towards our demands of change in social and legal structures.
History has always pushed us towards active stances to bring structural change, be it the feminist movement or struggles against caste discrimination; hence, now is the time to shake the structure at its roots.
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