CHENNAI: To commemorate the International Pride Month, Pink People and Qvents have put together a list of activities. From sharing personal stories to discussions through several mediums, their motive is to spread awareness about the community. The recently held event was based on the relevance of queer in Tamil culture. The session was organised in association with the Atheist Republic Chennai Consulate.
“The primary goal is to seek acceptance rather than waiting for people to come and talk to us. Pride month is held to commemorate the 1969 stonewall riots which took place in New York after a police raid of a gay bar. The scenario of social gatherings is evolving but Chennai is still a conservative society. Most of our members are confidential about disclosing their identity because of the stigma attached to it. They’ve not come out fearing ostracisation from other communities,” says Ramachandran Srinivasan, founder, Pink People.
The ground was open to discussion starting with viewpoints on temple architecture by the spokesperson of Atheist Republic Chennai Consulate. “We’ve all seen the gopurams and idols of a temple that resemble several sexual postures. It includes all kinds of sexual orientation. However, it’s a paradox that such explicit evidence is considered a taboo when it comes to real life,” he says.
According to GALVA 108 (Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association), ancient Hindu scriptures have much to say about homosexuality, both explicitly and as part of a broader third-gender category that includes all types of people described as impotent with the opposite sex. Despite recent attitudes of taboo and the criminalisation of homosexuality in India, traditional Hinduism was demonstrably far more understanding and liberal in its approach.
Several Hindu scriptures explicitly describe people with a homosexual nature. With this basic understanding in mind, ancient Hindu or Vedic culture did not punish or attempt to correct homosexuals of the third sex but rather accepted their nature as it was and incorporated them into society accordingly. “It is said that homosexuals were used as sexual slaves during the times of war. When kings stayed away from their queens on the battlefield, gay men were used for sexual pleasures,” says one of the spokespersons in the group.
Adding to the common misconception, Jabez Kelly, founder, Qvents, says, “Sexuality and sexual orientation are two different aspects. While the former is the sex of the person, the latter is the sex towards which the person is attracted.” Their first project for the month was Kavalam where they distributed clothes to residents of the Kirubai trust home. The next was the open mic, at the Backyard, on the stories that remain untold. They will soon screen a film with Madras Film Screening Club.
Hindu texts such as the Kama Sutra, Mahabharata, and Artha-sastra mention third-gender men as domestic servants, barbers, masseurs, florists and prostitutes