Kr­ishna Omkar Lawyer

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE -

Do we cur­rently see fair and ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion for the queer

Asian com­mu­nity in the UK?

When I was fin­ish­ing my stud­ies at Ox­ford, I wanted to go into film and theatre, and a Hol­ly­wood agent wanted to sign me. They told me that I would have a lot of work, be­cause there was so much de­mand for peo­ple like me to play ter­ror­ists, IT guys, medics, and taxi driv­ers. Need­less to say, I didn’t go down that route. Ten years later, much has changed, and yet, so much hasn’t. Take for ex­am­ple the hit TV show, Body­guard, the most watched BBC show in a decade. It fea­tures

no queer char­ac­ters, and the Asian char­ac­ters piv­otal to the plot were ter­ror­ists. The two Dead­pool movies were lauded for break­ing stereo­types and chang­ing the nar­ra­tive arc of the su­per­hero; and yet,

the sole In­dian is a stock comic taxi driver. When was the last time you saw a fash­ion cam­paign or an ad­ver­tise­ment where the per­son of colour was not just a to­ken pres­ence? Pick up any glossy mag­a­zine you can think of, and the over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is one of white­ness and straight­ness. Queer peo­ple, and queer Asians in par­tic­u­lar, are ex­pected

to ad­here to and per­form cer­tain roles within the bounds of what main­stream cul­ture scripts for them. For the most, they are in­vis­i­ble.

Who are your queer he­roes?

As a stu­dent of lit­er­a­ture I took refuge in the writ­ings of oth­ers who had ex­pressed what I was not be­ing able to ex­press. Os­car Wilde – in many ways the first real LGBTQ ac­tivist. He stood up for what he be­lieved in, and lost ev­ery­thing – his rep­u­ta­tion, his fam­ily, and ul­ti­mately his life. James Bald­win taught me about the in­ter­sec­tion of race and sex­u­al­ity. Is­mat Chugh­tai, the Urdu writer whose short story Li­haaf ar­tic­u­lated a fem­i­nist view of sex­u­al­ity through its de­pic­tion of les­bian­ism, in­cred­i­bly con­tro­ver­sial in 1942 when it was writ­ten and banned, and in 1996, when

I was 12 and a film based on it sparked a na­tion­wide con­ver­sa­tion in In­dia about sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. And of course, Fred­die Mer­cury – In­dian, gay, Gu­jarati, and proud – some­one who lived life on his own terms, and

burned bright.

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