A lot has happened since the January issue of this magazine. Not all of it pleasant. The nasty TV9 episode got us on our heels and the efforts of our community resulted in a small but significant victory with the channel being forced to issue an apology and pay a fine.
Better things were happening in neighboring state Karnataka, where the third edition of the Bangalore Queer Film festival had a successful run (despite the technical glitches that tormented organizers on Day three). The Mumbai Parade was the usual frolic with Celina Jaitley sharing the stage with gay leaders and her thoughts with Pink Pages (read ‘Parade with Pride’).
In our ‘Neighbors’ column, after Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, this time, we turn our attention to eastern neighbor Bangladesh. Muslim dominated and socially conservative, gays in the country make do with a raw deal. But a nascent gay culture is emerging in the bigger cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. We talk to Tanvir, a leading member of ‘Boys of Bangladesh’, the country’s only organization for gay men. In a gender oppressive society, lesbians are worse off with an absolute invisibility. But recent happenings suggest that things might be changing for the country’s LGBT community as they struggle to break open the closet doors.
But closer home things are no more rosy, as within their families young gay people often reel under an oppressive heterosexist culture that deems family “honor” even above the happiness of their own children. And when heterosexual couples can be brutally murdered by their own kin for defying caste and feudal traditions, what can one say about the safety of gays and lesbians in such families? And yes, we’re not even talking of a far flung village in Haryana- it may be happening in a Delhi neighborhood, as Tushar painfully discovers.
Also, I cannot conclude this letter without thanking our readers for the tremendous response to the January ‘Queer Literature Issue’. It was our first, and we were skeptical about the response. But letter after letter from our readers suggested how much you loved the short fiction and poetry that was painstakingly collected and edited by us over a period of nearly three months. There’s surely more to come.
(Letters to the editor can be addressed to [email protected])