One may have read that US President Barack Obama will nominate one Eric Fanning to lead the US army. At first glance, one may think this is an ordinary report of little interest here. Yet, it is a move that will make Fanning the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the US military services.
This nomination proves there is such a huge shift in policy, which as recently as four years ago, had prevented openly gay troops from military service.
It is when such seismic shifts happen that we are once again forced to look at the issue in India. Given the global world that we have now, it is natural to look at gay issues here through the prism of what is happening in other countries. That homosexual sex between consenting adults is still punishable by the law in India, is a huge step backwards for the gay community. Things seem to be in limbo and activists despair of things moving forward in the right direction.
Strangely though, even as this issue is still in court, we see a parallel movement here, where more venues are opening up for gay discourse and discussion. Recently, a drag king show was held at a Lower Parel venue.
An LGBT film was shown at a terrace theatre in Pune, primarily a ‘mainstream’ venue. The gay community is going to stage a dance drama based on a Greek myth about same sex love in early October in the city, in a first for the community. Today, Chandigarh is playing host to an LGBT film festival. Just a few instances to show that the movement is robust and gaining some traction by entering mainstream spaces in the city. And by spaces, we mean not just tangible ones of venues but minds too.
Yet, if this is not accompanied by legal sanction or recognition, then it really is progress at only one level. We need to introspect that at a time when countries are debating same sex marriage and the US President is leading the way with a major shift in military policy, we still seem stuck in a time warp. A sad commentary on contemporary India.