DU queer plat­form aims to ban­ish anonymity

HT City - - Front Page - Etti Bali and Nikita Sax­ena nikita.sax­ena@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Delhi Univer­sity Queer Col­lec­tive (DUQC) is cel­e­brat­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of Delhi Queer Pride on Novem­ber 12 by con­sol­i­dat­ing stu­dents from the LGBTQI+ com­mu­nity. What’s new this year is that the stu­dents have shared their jour­neys and ex­pe­ri­ences on on­line plat­forms in a cam­paign called The Pride Writeathon, jointly or­gan­ised by the col­lec­tive and Youth Ki Awaaz, an on­line con­tent pub­lish­ing plat­form. The ma­jor­ity have shared their sto­ries un­der their real names — a strik­ing de­par­ture from what was, un­til now, the norm.

“We all talk of queer pride but no one knows the strug­gle be­hind it. The cam­paign is an ef­fort to bring out th­ese sto­ries and what goes on be­hind them, whether they are tales of love, hate, de­sire or any­thing else,” says Rafiul Alom Rah­man, the found­ing mem­ber of DUQC and an LGBTQ ac­tivist.

The cam­paign fea­tured 13 sto­ries at the time of go­ing to press, and is a part of the runup to the an­nual Pride March to be held in the Cap­i­tal. “For queer stu­dents who haven’t come out yet, this will be great en­cour­age­ment and will also help them get a sense of be­long­ing,” Rafiul adds.

Ban­ish­ing anonymity be­comes im­per­a­tive, since the sub­ject is still taboo in the cir­cles that queer in­di­vid­u­als in­habit. “A move­ment of this sort is nec­es­sary to nor­malise peo­ple about the queer com­mu­nity,” says Srestha Bhat­tacharya, a third-year So­ci­ol­ogy stu­dent from Mi­randa House, who iden­ti­fies as a les­bian.

For some oth­ers, like Ke­shav Ku­mar (name

changed), a sec­ond-year gay stu­dent from Ram­jas Col­lege, the sit­u­a­tion was bleak. “My man­ner­isms were very fem­i­nine and that did not sit well with my fa­ther. I was 10 when he beat me up for dress­ing like a girl,” he says. Out­side the house, he was called “chhakka and hi­jra”, Ke­shav re­calls.

Har­ish Iyer, an ac­tivist and a vis­it­ing fac­ulty in a Mum­bai col­lege, feels that such move­ments should also in­clude teach­ers.

PHOTO: VIRENDRA SINGH GOSAIN/ HT PHOTO: RAJ KA RAJ/HT

A pride march par­tic­i­pant File photo of Delhi Queer Pride march on Novem­ber 29, 2015. The an­nual march brings to­gether the LGBTQI+ (les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, queer, in­ter­sex and more) peo­ple

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