Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Reflections on the 14th Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk

Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk happened on the 13th of  December'2015. Over 2000 people participated in the walk that spanned a distance of about 6 km. The clouds had covered the Sun, but the weather was hot and a bit unpleasant in mid-December. Ideally we want the weather to be pleasant at all times.

We are also fighting for basic primitive rights like decriminalisation of human sexuality and for improving our support base. So most of the slogans and messages conveyed were of a basic nature.

The participation reflected the impact of the patriarchy and related discriminatory forces. Majority of the participants were women and most of them, in my opinion (am a femme lesbian), were butch. Lesbians formed a substantial part of the participation. At least some of them were not members of rights groups, but went all the way to create their own posters - this strategy appeared to be Zapatist in essence. Not surprisingly a substantial number of lesbians were in the 18--30 age group.  I can say this much because I was at various positions of the moving group, observed the gender expression and other parameters of many participants, also made new lesbian friends, did not have to carry posters/flags for more than 10 minutes, and could compute with collected data.  

Vocal slogans were in Bengali (local language).  The structure of one of these slogans translates into "I am in love with a woman. Everything about the love is well justified and morally correct. " (followed by analogous versions for other sexualities).

Apparently nobody brought enough of specific pride flags. Only rainbow flags and colours were on display. That seems odd especially when other issues of intersectionality like caste and tolerance were addressed. We should bring out all the colours in future.

People of various gender identities were present at the event. But labels were missing - that is the wrong strategy to use. One cannot guess the gender identity of a person unless the person's gender expression is coherent with their identity relative society. To break stereotypical associations, it is necessary to demonstrate the associations between identity, expression and sexuality - at least in reports in the media. This is particularly important because most of the public have poor understanding of gender identities and the concepts of gender identity, expression and sexualities are functionally interdependent.

Some of the messages being conveyed were of the form "we want to differ a bit from the decadent prescriptions of normal behaviour". Then there was this reflection by a participant about the event being so nice in the context of the perennial hate that they had been experiencing in life. These expressions concern concept formation in possible schemes of understanding human rights.

I therefore guess, the grounds of solidarity across such a wide spectrum were in:
This land is not ours, it does not belong
This water is not ours, it does not belong
This air is not ours, it does not belong.


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