He featured in the Guardian’s list of the 100 most influential LGBT persons in the world last year and has appeared on various TV programmes related to child sexual abuse as a survivor and as a counsellor to other survivors. Openly gay, he has also been raising his voice against eve-teasers in Mumbai.
But yesterday, he became a victim himself. An unknown man not only called him ‘gud’ (a derogatory word for homosexuals), but also spat on him at Kharghar station, during the peak hours.
Harish Iyer, a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) activist from the city, who has also appeared on Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate, writes an open letter to his attacker and Mumbaikars at large:
I was at the Kharghar station platform around 8 am and someone just screamed gud from a Panvel-bound running train and spat on me. The spittle missed my face by a few inches, but landed on my clothes. I had to go back home to wash up and change the shirt.
I would have roasted the attacker’s testicles and humiliated him if he had dared to do what he did face to face. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. But this is not the time to hide, this is a time to stand up and fight. The incident also gave me an understanding about the mawalis (loafers) who scream ‘ae item’ at girls across the city.
Bullying is on the rise. Thank you India. Thank you so much. You do not realise that you will have to pay heavily for facilitating the loss of dignity of a gazillion LGBTIQ people in the country. There is absolutely no going back now. Spit on me you moron. Spit once. I am right here. I will light a fire up your a**.
You think I will be ashamed? You think I will cower and hide? I will get up, you a******. I will get up and wear my sexuality on my sleeve now. I will wait for you to attack me again. And then I will get you screwed by the same public in the train.
It doesn’t matter who I am and who I am not. It doesn’t matter if I am a man, woman or transgender. It doesn’t matter if I am rich, poor or middle class. It only matters that I am a human being and I should have the right to the life of dignity that the Constitution of my country gives me the right to.
I believe that ‘normal’ is the biggest stereotype. I don’t fit into any of the stereotypes that society tries to slot gay people into. I am not effeminate, just a gay person whom some people know because of my television appearances. If this could happen to me, what about people who are effeminate, what about the transgender?
At the platform, I also got a taste of what women must be going through, with slurs and eve-teasing following them everywhere, every single day. I am ashamed of what levels of discrimination the human race can stoop to. Today I was spat on. Tomorrow I will be stabbed.
Will we still watch? I love my city to death. And I have seen that it often takes just one person from the crowd to stand up for others to follow suit. Usually I am that person. It is ironic that today I was on the other side, standing alone.