Coming to terms with queer India
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference
Savarna LGB people are seeking out legal protections to satisfy their own, limited homonormative needs in whatever casteist and classist way necessary (and not because of unconscious bias but conscious bias as well)
377 was a win by and for an already very privileged group of people pandering to a brahmincal cishetero gaze...what's the point of this one if so many other are being criminalized and cannot love and live freely?
On Dalit queer & trans experiences:
Even well-meaning savarna Gay activists who are born and raised in India were ignorant of caste and the importance of it being addressed in Gay spaces. And out-and-proud queer/trans Dalit activists get casteist and transphobic hate messages on Grindr
On cis gay/lesbian savarna fuckery:
Savarna men (and women) play with their sexuality without restrain (and frankly regard for others' boundaries) with a sense of entitlement, disassociated, and delight knowing full well they will return to their lives unscathed and stigma-free; they compartmentalize and live inauthentic lives elsewhere
Under Brahminical patriarchy, women across all castes but especially those who are Dalit suffer. The institution of marriage in India is there to uphold heteronormative ideals (even if they are embodied by gay/lesbian people) that suppress
On looking to the future:
"We must understand that all queer and trans/gender diverse identities in Hindu India are defined and controlled as being socially and biologically ‘impotent’ to varying degrees. The ciscentric savarna queers must recognise that their twice-born status is a conditional get-out-of-jail-free card and as long as they are not rejecting these limits they are not effectively living their queerness to bring about any structural change, or contributing to the development of a queer ideology that centres and nourishes Dalit Bahujan Adivasi queer ideologies."
"...the savarna cis queers have always had the freedom to express and dictate the terms of queerness as a certain narrow set of sex acts between a certain narrow set of bodies; their queerness is practiced while holding onto and acting out of deep Brahminical hatred towards self and others for the limits of their own cisgender queerness, a limit that their caste pride will never allow them to transcend; by retaining this contradictory position which I believe is not worthy of being termed as queerness, they consciously stifle all voices that can truly articulate self-determination and trans-queer liberation."
I was speaking with a queer friend recently about the state of queerness in India. Before they had experienced it themself, I had basically alluded to queer India as a sort of paradise. Or at least that's what I feel like I expressed.
Back in 2013 I visited India, I visited some queer organizations, and for the most part, I was really taken with queer India. There were problems and reservations that I had, especially regarding the hostility and handsiness of many of the cis gay men I met. But I was ignorant about caste at the time mostly because I was coming from a caste-privileged background, because I was young and not as aware of my own boundaries and needs, and because I was not Indian-born and much history and cultural subtly was illegible. Not an excuse...but context.
Most of the spaces were cis gay male dominated, and presumably dominated by upper-caste Hindu people and any people outside of this were likely foreigners or affluent in some way. I sensed the toxic patriarchy and elitism (and oddly some of it was directed towards me) - and admittedly towards the end of my time in India (just 3 months) these spaces began to become tiresome to me.
Upon further reflection, I guess I did sense the lack of empathy and the exclusion and sidelining of even me in those spaces, a diasporic savarna "cis gay boy" (at the time...maybe they sniffed the softness out). And in the years that I've grown and become more aware and conscious, it's not surprising to hear the facts. But I can't help but feel disappointed in myself....
I didn't take the risks to seek out connections beyond those who were "elite." Perhaps, if I had spent more time in India that would have evolved and grown over time. My connections grew out of my existing connections, white gay men and cis gay savarna/diasporic academics here. I was perpetuating a fantasy, born from a limited viewpoint, with myself (and with others), based on an idealized and warped version of queer India.
And the truth is that there's no mythical queer or trans mecca or space. All of us queer and trans people come with our privileges, limitations, and intersecting identities and we negotiate them, often clumsily, in a container of heightened relating, bringing our personal baggage and trauma. It's that old adage, "hurt people hurt people..."
And they hurt themselves...
What stuck out to me in the last two quotes above is this idea that under Brahminical patriarchy, cis savarna queers who participate and perpetuate that harm and violence to Dalit Bahujan Adivasi queer and trans people are also directing that Brahmanical hatred towards themselves.
And of course, just because someone is committed to being cishetero and binary, even if they are leftist or well-read, marginalized by race or caste, and/or in community with queer and trans people, they still have the capacity to be limited in their view on sexuality and gender.
They don't escape unscathed, even if they can't see or feel these self-inflicted wounds; they're still bleeding and festering.