Colonising the queer

The Stonewall Riots happened in June/July 1969 in Manhattan, but the effects were felt worldwide so much so that June is celebrated as Pride Month. But not in India. Or even Mumbai. The date for the pride march moved from first Saturday after Independence Day to first Saturday after Republic Day and January is celebrated as Pride Month. What however strikes as odd in all this is that though we don’t adhere to the timeline of the western pride, we unknowingly adhere to everything else.

The idea of pride in itself is very western. We as Indians look down upon the word Pride. Pride or “Garv” has time and again been associated with a negative connotation of thinking of yourself as better than others. Being queer is not essentially about being better than someone, but about being comfortable with who we are. This brings us to think as to why India is so dearly holding on to or trying to identify with the west.

To be fair, a major reason why Indians could come out into the open, proclaim that they are queer and fight for their rights is because of several Western influences like literature, movies or even watching them fight for their rights in their countries. I feel, in a way, we conform to their norms of the queer culture because somehow, psychologically, we think we owe it them.

This can broadly be attributed to the idea of a colonial hangover. The country of Nepal, which wasn’t ever colonised, can be considered as a progressive state when it comes to LGBTIQ inclusion and rights in the east. What is noticeable is that they do not celebrate a Pride March. They celebrate the diversity and inclusion as a part of a 500 year old tradition of celebration.

We can further notice this influence in our language and daily expression. When queer men use terms such as “Okay Mama” , “Oh girl/hunty” et c. we unknowingly are adhering to the west’s strong dictation of today’s queer pop culture. What remains as the core question is that where in all this is our identity as queer Indians ?

Omkar