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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I am just not like you...

Rainbow flag was flying high with pride. It was a busy sunday afternoon. Under normal circumstances after a heavy lunch, i would be lying my body infront of the television watching some boring programmes. But it was not the same case that day, it was the day of the second Rainbow pride in chennai. I saw some of my friends with a dizzy look got it from the last night gay party. Probably they had too much of alcohol or abundant of sex.

I was looking at my wrist watch once again. In another few minutes the pride march will begin, but he still not yet arrived to join me. My boyfriend promised me that he will walk along with me holding hands in this pride. i became nervous.

Two days before i had an argument about the pride with one of my friend who identifies himself as bisexual. He asked me that "why he has to walk along with transgenders who are culturally and socially different than him". It was a pretty heated argument which went for an hour.

I must say he is not an enemy of transgender community neither a transphobic. I have seen him having a friendly chat with couple of my transgender friends and has a soft corner for them. I had no idea where he got this idea not to walk along with transgenders in the pride.

Few days before the argument, Me and him were having a tea in a tea shop. There were a gang of transgenders who came into collect the money from the shop. They came in got the money from the shop owner, pinched my right side butt, tapped the balls of my friend and disappeared quietly. My friend was totally embarassed infront of the public.

That was not first time an young man was treated by a transgender in this manner in the history of LGBT. Several other instances, it has become a routine in trains where you will be physically abused or being a victim of public display of embarassment. Sometimes it makes us hard to understand the transgender community. This kind of behaviour is not very common among all of them especially the english speaking transgender sections and few decent friends i have got in the same community who talk to me about gay rights and politics.

After the tea shop incident my friend kept a distance from the transgenders in general. And he justified me with his argument. Transgenders wanted to isolate themself from the society but not the vise versa, even if the society tries to reach them with a friendly hand, they wanted to keep the fear factor among the society.
In public whether it is in a train or a tea shop or at marina beach, we (gays and bisexuals) are not viewed as gays by transgenders but rather treated as a hetrosexual men. Few months before when i was walking along with my boyfriend at Marina. There were two transgenders followed us and were making noises behind our back which was totally insulting. Ofcourse they gave a final touch my tapping my boyfriend's butt too.

I agree it was totally a wrong place to be with my boyfriend who is a teenager, but i thought of showing him the most popular cruising spot of chennai for gays. My boyfriend cursed me for bringing him to such a place and took an oath never to be back to the same spot in his life.

One of my other friend who came out to his parents was travelling in a train with his parents few weeks before. Near tiruvallur they were approached by few transgenders and insulted by them when his father refused to give them money. It took several days for my friend to assure his father that he will never become a transgender.

I could understand the cultural and behaviourial differences between gay men and transgenders. Not all Transgenders has social bond unlike a gay man. So they may not have to follow the ethics, moral and lifestyle of the society. But provided an opportunity they will do it and i have seen few examples among my friends. Most of the transgenders i knew and met at the pride generally well behaved and discplined.
My friend was arguing with me about the facilities given by the government to the transgenders which includes ration card, inclusion in the census, self owned job training and job openings in the corporate sector. But still most of them are economically poor and left options by earning in prostitution and collecting money from commercial shops.

This made my friend wonder that under what circumstances transgenders and gay men raising the rainbow flag and walking along with a so-called common objective. My answer was very simple to him. Either we are a transgender or a gay man or a lesbian or a bisexual we are all labelled as sexual minorities who doesnt have rights to choose the lifestyle or love the person we wanted to.

My irresistable friend came up with a question again asking me "What if i dont want to fight for gay rights, what if i just want to celebrate with my fellow gay men and women without any fear factor. Isnt the pride is all about living without fear?"
I became impatient now of his continuous naive argument. I told him "We talk about inclusiveness, but we dont want to include one section of our own community and walk along with him. Where is your talk about rights and equality, my friend?".

My friend shaked his head and finally left the place. On the pride day i saw him holding hands with a transgender and having a friendly chat with him as usual.
After the pride, the less turn out in the pride made me thinking. There were many gaymen and bisexual men who i knew or met standing along the sideways watching us marching in the pride but hesitant to join us very similiar to the first pride. Unless untill we work on the fear factor which is actually one of the unknown reason for the lack of participation in the pride we may say a fall in the turn out in the next pride too. Organizers and community leaders might have to consider this in their next planning for the pride, but some leaders inside still believe that the community have to reach them for the pride rather than the leaders reaching the community. Well, whatever it is the Pride march will not stop, it will continue forever.

P.S: My boyfriend who came in 20 minutes late for the pride wearing a stunning outfit made me smile and march along with him with pride. Atleast he fulfilled my wishes to walk along with my partner in the second pride.

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