“It is my body and my wish… be gone demons.”
The individuals of LGBTQ community have been relentlessly persecuted by society for their sexual orientations and method of pleasures.They’ve always been a prey of the tyrannical gaze of the society and even in the 21st century they face social taboos and judgemental behaviour.
The work looks closely at the LGBT community in eastern India,often projecting a world devoid of restrictive laws and social taboos that the community regularly comes up against.For a community whose voice is often marginalised.
Homosexuality in India has been a subject of discussion from ancient times to modern times. Hindu texts have taken positions regarding the homosexual characters and themes Rigveda,one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says Vikriti Evam Prakriti (meaning what seems unnatural is also natural),which some scholars believe recognises homosexual dimensions of human life, like all forms of universal diversities.Historical literary evidence indicates that homosexuality has been prevalent across the Indian subcontinent throughout history, and that homosexuals were not necessarily considered inferior in any way until about 18th century during British colonial rule.
The Arthashastra, an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, mentions a wide variety of sexual practices which, whether performed with a man or a woman, were sought to be punished with the lowest grade of fine. While homosexual intercourse was not sanctioned, it was treated as a very minor offence, and several kinds of heterosexual intercourse were punished more severely.
Homophobia is prevalent in India.Public discussion of homosexuality,bisexuality and trans orientation in India has been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly. There may be much higher statistics for individuals who have concealed their identity, since a number of Indians,categorising in lgbtq community are living in the closet due to fear of discrimination.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), dating back to 1861, makes sexual activities “against the order of nature” punishable by law and carries a life sentence. Before striking down the colonial-era law several organisations have expressed support for decriminalising homosexuality in India, and pushed for tolerance and social equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. India is among countries with a social element of a third gender, but mental, physical, emotional and economic violence against LGBT community in India prevails.
Lacking support from family, society or police in every moment of their life. They are treated like untouchables and also neglected in getting proper health care facilities,basic education,security.Many gay rape victims do not report the crimes.They’ve always been a prey of the tyrannical gaze of the society.Their views and ideology about sexual preferences often contradicts with the mass and they are mobbed and lynched publicly taking up the law and order in the hands of the public. Various Hindu organisations, based in India and abroad have supported decriminalisation of homosexual behaviours.
While there’s always a univocal unity of religious leaders in expressing their homophobic attitude.Usually divisive and almost always seen tearing down each other’s religious beliefs,but this time leaders across sections came forward in decrying homosexuality and expressing their solidarity with the judgment of decriminalising the colonial period law in 2018.
On the other hand the majority of Indians bearing the same stereo typical mentality were dead against of the decrying of the law.According to their verses Homosexuality is a crime according to scriptures and is unnatural. People cannot consider themselves to be exclusive of a society… In a society, a family is made up of a man and a woman, not a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. If these same-sex couples adopt children, the child will grow up with a skewed version of a family. Society will disintegrate. If we are to look at countries in the West who have allowed same-sex marriages, you will find the mental tensions they suffer from.
Families carrying homosexual/bisexual/transgender children advised them not to express these different sexual preferences in the fear of getting compartmentalised from the society, and seek to visit psychologists and medical advisory to bring them back in the normal course of life through yoga, counselling and different medications. They call it a bad addiction. Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature, and against science.It’s quite horrible to put their shoes and visualise how much emotional turmoil they go through suppressing their eternal wish and being bullied,getting trolled on social media platforms and every other aspect of life.With these deep wounds,they’ve to struggle for their basic needs and human rights.They walk all alone along their own scripted path.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you…”
Pride parades are outdoor events celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary and queer (LGBTQ) social and self acceptance, achievements, legal rights, and pride. The events also at times serve as demonstrations for legal rights such as same-sex marriage.
Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk is held with the intention of making a political statement for Equality, Tolerance, Love and Solidarity. The walk is held to strengthen the voice for equality for all – irrespective of gender, sexuality, religion, etc. The participants walk in solidarity with all rights based movements, Child rights, Women’s rights, Dalit rights, Rights of the Disabled/differently-abled, students groups, and others.
Kolkata’s pride march 1999 was the first ever march in India, organised on 2 July 1999.The walk was called The Friendship Walk.The participants were wearing specially designed, bright yellow T-shirts with graphics of footsteps and a caption reading “Walk on the Rainbow”
Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (KRPF) is a Kolkata based open collective of individuals, networks and organizations that support LGBT rights. runs a number of events such as art exhibits, film screenings, panel discussions, cultural events, community hangouts etc. KRPW walk with Love and Solidarity in support of the rights to gender expression and the rights for individual sexual freedom.To create a space for dialogue, support and strengthen action to visibilize issues of Dignity-Voice- Sexuality in relation to children, women and sexual minorities.
Thus Pride Walk became a refuge not only to the Lgbtq community but also to some less known sexual minority community like the asexual,skoliosexual,demisexual community who are often misunderstood for their desires which are not absurd but are just different from us,In most of the cases their stories and struggles are unknown and unexplored,they have to pave their own path for living.Pride Parade celebrate their desires and aspirations which are free to be explored and expressed. And an attempt to understand their psyches and visualise their vulnerabilities by creating a space where people can express their personal experiences and feelings,outside of their lived reality. Because we live in a society that prevents us from living a ‘normal’ life,and moreover nobody is happy to be in their normal being and my work imagines a world in which there is freedom to live according to one’s own desires.
All images and text © Sourojeet Paul
By Sourojeet Paul
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