Discrimination in Queer Collectives
They say that no group or collective can ever be free of incessant, latent discrimination flowing through the very existential sinews of the group. This, I feel, has been strongly applicable to the growing number of Queer Collectives. I wish to try and break the problem down at multiple lines of thought. The main problem in the current state of Queer Collectives is the limiting of the spectrum. Most people in the collectives are themselves not aware enough to understand that identities exist beyond ‘LGBT’. While Q may act as the umbrella term, it becomes a person’s personal choice to associate oneself to any identity one feels like. As it is, intersex people have a hard time having to explain themselves, ‘gender fluid’/‘gender queer’ are terms people barely think about, and so on.
Bisexual persons stand at a junction where the politics is quite complex: to non-queer persons, being Bisexual looks cool (a person I interviewed once even told me the he passes himself off as a bisexual because it is the fad of the season!). Thus, using the label ‘bisexual’ ensures that they can now have a strong foot on more than one boat (and can go back to any boat whenever they want). Yet, what is ‘cool’ for non-queer people becomes a point of non-understanding for queer people. Bisexual persons often face strong discrimination from members of the community as a result, complicating the way the politics of queer collectives function and execute.
Looking at another term, the political identities get even more twisted and crooked when we consider the fact that the ‘trans’ spectrum is a huge one. In fact, ‘trans’ is a spectrum that is neither well-understood, nor well represented: almost 99 percent of people within a collective are prone to using the terms ‘Hijra’ and ‘Transgender’ interchangeably. Transgender persons have had an almost negligible amount of expression within the collectives, although they form a major group within them. ‘Trans-phobia’ is not just an active force outside the queer community, but also a very latent discriminatory force within the community itself. A lot of transgender people have stories of how they have been looked down upon, bullied, mistreated, all inside the realms of what we have hitherto called non-normative spaces. A major exception here is Ratri Rajesh Swaha, a transgender woman working in TCS, Kolkata who regularly uses her nude body as a medium of expression. Ratri’s pictures are appreciable not just because of the art they show, but also because of the very real paucity of transgender nude art.
The intersections present in the queer collectives have not yet been well explored, and racial, sexual, romantic, identity and expression politics must be further worked on. We hope that Queer Collectives can and will come together soon to form the basis of a radical Queer Movement in the country. While an absolutely non-normative space with zero discrimination sounds utopian, history has taught us not to give up hope, because there is no limit to how better (or worse) things can get.
Nefer is a long time activist.
Edited by Siddhesh Gooptu