Patna’s pride parade
Patna came out of her closet in 2012 to celebrate the International Pride Day, however, this wasn’t a much-celebrated parade. It had only 20 people and most of the mainstream media ignored it.
Again in 2017, the people of Patna came out on the roads to not celebrate International Queer Day but to demand fair rights and recognition.
Nevertheless, this month Patna celebrated the non-binary day unapologetically with the world’s largest pride flag lifted by 500 people.
This pride march was organized by Reshma Prasad’s Dostana Safar. The march started from the historic Hindi Sahitya Samelan to Rajendra Nagar’s Prem Chandra Rangshala.
A participant in the parade told Patnabeats, “Things might not change much right after the pride, but at least people will start thinking about it (Queer Community’s rights) and eventually it will all change for good”.
Differences between the attitudes of big and small cities
Metro cities have become more open and accepting of the LGBTQ community. People from the LGBTQ communities find it much easier to live and grow in these cities.
Large corporates have formed more inclusive policies to incorporate the community which makes working in big cities a better experience.
However, it’s a starkly different situation in “less-developed” cities. People are less accepting and often when a child comes out, parents refer to a psychiatrist to correct their child’s mental health.
These cities lack social networking opportunities for the LGBTQ community as people do not come out to their family and friends easily because of prevalent taboos.
Here, effeminacy and being womanly is extremely wrong as these are strictly patriarchal societies. Eventually, there is no one to share the experiences of a person who is struggling with identity in such places.
The experience of coming to terms with one’s identity becomes bitter and brings about alienation.
Language also becomes an issue. People from the LGBTQ community find it extremely hard to convey their experiences when the people of small towns are not acquainted with the queer ideology. They still live between prejudices.
As a gay man from JNU says, “My parents are not literate, so it was very difficult for me to communicate with them. Homophobia is part of their conditioning…For instance, it is not that my mother does not understand what I am,…My mother would tell me, Itna haath hilaake kyun baat karte ho tum, taali bajaane wale ho kya?”
Astonishingly, places like UP and Bihar who have traditions like Launda naach have become seemingly accepting towards the LGBTQ community after so long.
Unlike the western world, we had recognized the non-binary genders way before. In India, we have names like hijra, kothi and panthis. In addition to this, we have other regional names for the non-binary genders such as ganacharis in parts of south India.
We have mentioned non-binary genders in our tales and ancient myths.
It seems that, historically, they have been assigned roles according to their genders. For instance, transgenders were shown in the Mughal period as loyal servants in the herem.
The socially emancipatory word “Queer” loses its importance when it takes a cultural turn. By cultural, I mean to convey that the LGBTQ community which is trying to express its identity through art, fashion, and identity politics is very different from the LGBTQ community which is not privileged enough to have time and resources to practice the same.
Imphal has not yet seen a major pride march. It had its first and only pride parade in 2014 which was not only invisible to the media but also the LGBTQ community.
In places like Imphal, Manipur it’s even more difficult to be born a non-binary gender. There is a constant conflict to slow down the process of development.
Queer voices were neglected and considered to be less important when people were busy learning how to survive trauma.
Sadam Hanjabam, a 30-year-old, has thus founded Ya All which means ‘revolution’. Ya All tries to highlight the presence of LGBTQ community by hosting events like queer games, fashion shows, literature festivals, etc. Now, they even have a safe place cum cafe for networking of the queer community.
Overlapping aspects of society
The non-privileged section of the queer community is entrapped in the material conditions that force them to practice the traditional forms of earnings for the community which have been associated with the traditional names of non-binary genders.
Here, the traditional names meant to recognize this community has in turn trapped the less privileged section into the traditionally associated professions of the community.
The urban spaces are more accepting but still urban in nature.
Gay social networking has been the fastest growing in the community as shown by elite gay men being the ‘privileged consumers’ of ‘Pink Tourism’.
Often gay clubs and networking places deny entry to not so well- dressed, not fluent in English and without urban accent people and to the “low-caste” population.
People belonging to the LGBTQ community and small cities face difficulties at different levels.
To live a non-binary gender identity in small cities is extremely difficult. A participant in the 2019 pride parade of Patna rightly puts up the situation, “The label of homosexuality is like a play, like for entertainment [in a city like Patna]. The gay community is already struggling with their identity, and let’s not even talk about the lesbian community,” while talking to Vice.
Struggling in these small cities with one’s self results in alienation. Groups that are especially formed for the communication of the LGBTQ community, like queer collectives and institutional organizations meant for a queer group, play a very essential role in making people accept their identity.
Sharing experiences makes life easier. Identifying with people helps to gain confidence and feel less weird.
Image credits: Google Images
Find the blogger at @kumar_darshna