On Sunday, 3rd of October, 2010, a group discussion and awareness session on the ‘Harassment and Extortion’ of people from the LGBTQ community was organized under the auspice of Chennai Dost.
The discussion started with a reference to the reading down of Sec377 by the Delhi High Court; and then focused upon specific incidents of harassment faced by several people; before touching upon the various legal recourses available to some one who is being harassed.
The session concluded with the mentioning of a few channel of help available to any distressed person.
I am sure the CD team will soon put up (or may have put up by the time this gets posted) a more elaborate write-up of the event and thus will not be going into the nitty-gritty of the same.
What was interesting to note was the timing of this session; coming just a day after Gandhi Jayanti and two days after the much publicized news of the suicide of Tyler Clementi (an American gay teenager who thought it better to end his life than to face harassment from his room mate).
Gandhi once said, “I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.”
It is a pity to note that, even in this day and age, most of us still do not have the freedom to express our selves with out the fear of being singled out… singled out by the police, by our colleagues, by friends or, some times, even by our family. No one knows how many such ‘Tylers’ face harassment in their life just because they wanted to exercise the same freedom that the Father of the Nation had once wished for its people to enjoy.
At a broader level, this session organized by CD should be conceived as a baby step in the road to the ‘freedom for full expression of our personality’.
One fact that hit me when I entered the venue of this program was that it was being held in the living room of the organizer.
This was not a fancy seminar being hosted at some budget auditorium, attended by a sprinkling of gay activists, human rights lawyers, and a few members of the liberal media… making speeches for each others benefit.
This was an example of grass-root activism; a bottom-up approach in which awareness is born out of the living rooms of common people and not preached from a podium. It not only tries to reach out to people as individuals but also helps to create a community space for the people to breath with ease.
My only wish is that various support organizations working in this field would urge some of its members to hold similar micro level group discussions or other activities in their homes, in different parts of the city, on a regular basis. This will not only increase the reach of the “Queer Movement” in India but also encourage more and more closeted LGBT people to express them selves freely.
To quote Gandhi, ‘Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will’. The LGBT movement in India can reach its next level only if this ‘indomitable will’, which is so visibly present in the community ‘leaders’, can be passed on to the average Joe through a program of grass root level mobilization… one that the Chennai Dost team has successfully embarked upon.