Why Am I Disappointed With The LGBTQ Movement

Why Am I Disappointed With The LGBTQ Movement

Noted gay activist explains why he is disillusioned with the movement.

Ashok Row KaviUpdated: Friday, February 02, 2024, 10:02 PM IST
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The first shock I received was last year when a new Committee to organize the Pride March was announced by a group of young LGBTQ activists in the suburbs of Mumbai. A young Lesbian said they did not wish to have older members of the communities at the meeting. It was trying to pinkwash us older gay men out of the movement.

Quietly, many of us older gays and lesbians withdrew into our shells. Yes! It was time a younger cut their teeth in organizing the heavy duty work of police permissions, organising, and fixing the nuts and bolts of organising the Gay Pride March in Mumbai, one of the largest in India. And yet there was quite some disquiet about the forthcoming March.

The Mumbai Azadi March had been discontinued a few years ago, thanks to an ugly fracas where a transman tried to outdo the JNU crowd by shouting The Tukde Tukde slogans on the stage. The young organisers were called to the Azad Maidan Police Station and made to undergo “interrogation sittings” besides openly accused of being “Right Wing Sanghis”. The said transman got away saying he had been “carried away” while everybody was horrified at the carelessness of the blabber mouths.

This time, it looked like everybody had learnt their lessons but the community mobilization we had expected was missing. Everybody was looking over their shoulders and strict new unwritten rules were in place. Yet something was missing. The generally chaotic but close community spirit was missing. This was not like the different LGBTQ grojps a decade ago had met in Hutatma Chowk and distributed leaflets, brochures and wide interactions with the general public in a devil may care bravado that everybody exhibited. Even the underground radical Lesbian groups were out there led by the Lawyers Collective to interact with the people at large.

The movement all over the world seems to be bogged down in intrra group fights within themselves and the rising transgender movements. The fact that Rowling and Navratilova were called “transphobic bitches” was fresh in my mind. Worse, the American LGBTQ movement seems to be totally derailed itself by allying with the loony Left inventing gems like “Queers for Palestine” and downright anti-Semitic slogans. Crowning it all was the judgment of the Russian Supreme Court calling the LGBT movement a “criminal terrorist movement:”

In Mumbai, I had lost most of my middleclass straight friends who pointed out that the Supreme Court judgment striking down Section 377 had been welcomed by the RSS and condemned by the Muslim Personal Board and the Roman Catholic Church and the Delhi Pride was full of Hindu hate slogans with anti-Hindutwa placards. Not only was this difficult to explain to the mainstream society but the older generation of LGBT were mired in the quick sand of gender politics. Ten years ago, cross dressing and transgender were an intrinsic part of the gay parties but now many parties ended in fights and abuse over the strange business of the “correct pronouns”.

This antagonised the older gay men who now fled the mixed gatherings of all LGBTQ groups. The good feelings and general comraderie of the now open gay parties seemed to have vanished into thin air. What replaced them were the raucous and loud parties where drugs and confusing sex parties in the outer suburbs of Mumbai. Much of the pubic cruising scene had been replaced by online cruising scene on Grindr and Tinder apps where drugs, scams and black mail with extortion is the order of the day.

I am not saying anything about the galloping HIV prevalence, the rising chart of STIs among gay men and the depressing mental health in the community were already taking a toll. Suicides, murders and generally dangerous behavior that marginalized us in mainstream society are the order of the day.

This is not the movement I grew up in and nurtured. It had mutated into something else altogether. And all the old activists seem to be either mainstreaming into other issues or keeping themselves away from the main health and social issues we have fought for. I cannot recognize the mindscape of the movement and neither can many of my colleagues. As for the sympathy of the mainstream society. I’ve never seen so much anger against us. It is an opportunity lost

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