Tag: Queer Desis

Brighting light to Desi Media Bullying LGBT Members

23Dec

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Our friend @TheGaysian brought to our attention a sad trend that has been around for a long time – media professionals who are a part of the LGBT community, but are being bullied by their managers and co-workers, especially in Desi Media. It all starts with a snarky comment and escalates to isolation and intimidation to unemployment. We stand next to the TheGaysian that this is NOT ok. While in these tough economic times, some might believe its foolish to stand up for a co-worker being bullied if that means YOU might get fired, but where’s the integrity?

As members of the LGBT community – we live, we sleep, we cry and we do a kick ass job in media like anyone else. Some of us are open and some of us are not, regardless whether we are out or keep our sexuality to ourselves; no one has the right to bully us. It only takes one person to stand up for another to set a positive message.

I would encourage if you see this type of ruthless behavior in the workplace, especially if you are a member of the media – be bold and stand up for your co-worker.

No such thing as queer desis? Think again… check out trikone.org

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case

15Mar

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Picture 47

Sappho one of the great Greek lyricist and poets

From Sappho (Support Group for Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women) this was reported in the Telegraph (Eastern Indian English newspaper) the two women were in a lesbian relationship, sadly they both committed, because they felt this was the only way they could be together. Sappho went to their town to learn more about the two young women and their families.

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case
Nandigram, Sonachura, 20th February.2011
A Report by the Fact Finding Team of Sappho for Equality

The incident was reported in the Telegraph, a leading English daily of
eastern India on 22nd February 2011, along with smaller insertions on
the same day in Times of India, Kolkata, Ganashakti (Bengali daily
from Kolkata), Mumbai Mirror and Ahmedabad Mirror.

Two young girls from a village named Sonachura, under Nandigram police
station, in East Midnapur District, had committed suicide together by
consuming pesticide. They were neighbours, distant cousins; the elder
used to give tuition to the younger and were in a lesbian
relationship. The younger was married off some months ago after the
villagers became suspicious about their relationship.

Apart from the above mentioned basic facts media reports were
contradictory about the names of the girls, their ages, and other
details related to this incident. One of the news papers with
expressed political allegiance went to the extent of calling it a
murder (it should be remembered that Nandigram and Sonachura have been
in the news for State Government’s land acquisition policy and counter
movement, and is still in a situation of political unrest with state
elections knocking at the door).

We at Sappho for Equality decided that given the contradictory nature
of the media reports, and the political positioning of Nandigram with
a general pre-poll unrest prevailing in the state, we should carry out
a fact finding process on our own. It also is considered as a step
towards our advocacy and lobbying campaign with the state machinery,
the police to be precise.

As step one we formed an internal fact finding team of experienced
members. The team first met Ms. Damayanti Sen IPS, Joint Commissioner
of Police, Crime Branch, Kolkata, for back up police support for the
fact finding mission and also for involving her in the advocacy and
lobbying campaign. We got extremely positive response from her for the
immediate venture and the long term project. She gave us contacts of
very senior police personnel of the West Bengal Police, the Additional
director of Police, Law and Order, who in turn connected us with the
East Midnapore Police Superintendent, OC of Nandigram Police Station
and Sub Inspector of Tekhali, Sonachura Police Outpost. The last
referred person had actually handled this case and we got maximum
information from him through our fact finding process on 26th
February.

On 26th February our five-member team, ready with audio-visual
documenting    equipments, went to Sonachura for finding out real
facts and scopes for further intervention regarding the couple suicide
case of Swapna-Sucheta. We met and interviewed Swapna’s parents, one
of her coaching class students who used to study with Sucheta also,
Sucheta’s mother, one of their male neighbours, few neighbourhood
women, Sucheta’s husband Bikash Mondal, Panchayet Pradhan Kalikrishna
Pradhan (chief functionary of the rural local governance system) and
Sub Inspector Animesh Chakraborty of Tekhali Police Outpost and also
had a talk with Second Officer Sambhunath Das of Nandigram Police
Station. Copy of a note book with Swapna’s description of their
relationship and the final act along with the copy of case diary were
collected as testimony.

The incident and its background as found by the fact finding committee
is – Swapna, 21/22 has always been a quite and integrated person. She
is one of the rare girls who had passed Madhyamik (school leaving
examination) and instead of marriage opted for a career as a teacher.
Her parents already burdened with the debts accumulated after her two
elder sisters’ marriage decided not to press too hard. She had opened
a coaching centre at her home and was giving tuition to the
neighbourhood students and earning a modest amount of money. Sucheta,
17/18, a neighbourhood girl, a second/third cousin used to come to her
coaching centre and they had developed very deep and intimate
relationship. The villagers started suspecting about the nature of
their relationship to be homosexual and about year ago a huge ruckus
was created by some of the village elders and both the families were
threatened. Sucheta’s parents decided to marry their daughter off and
they
got hold of a young neighbourhood boy, Bikash, 20/21, who works as a
masonry help in Orissa, was once in a relationship with Sucheta before
she got involved with Swapna. Sucheta refused to marry but was forced
into it, a very common practice everywhere in India, and was married
off about six months ago. But the relationship continued and Bikash,
tried to commit suicide, unsuccessfully, after two months of his
marriage to Sucheta. On 20th February 2011, Sucheta had come to visit
her natal family and went missing along with Swapna. The families and
villagers looked for them the whole night and in the morning they were
found dead at a spot about 2 km from their home tied together by a
gamchha (handloom towel) embracing each other. Police report says that
they had committed suicide by consuming pesticide. A note book was
found at Swapna’s home where she has clearly described the nature of
their relationship and her decision of committing suicide as they
thought that to be the only way of staying together because the
society would not let be with each other. Her last request was to be
cremated together, which was not observed because none of the families
including Sucheta’s marital family were willing to accept the dead
bodies back from police morgue to give them an honourable funeral.

From interactions with both of the families, Sucheta’s husband, and
neighbourhood persons, the single striking fact, clear to all of us,
was that no one is actually sad for those two deceased human beings.
Swapna’s parents are bewildered because she was a major bread winner
for her family, Sucheta’s mother (we could not meet her father) was
too cautious to talk. Bikash was busy clearing his name, trying to
prove that all was well between them as a married couple. Never did he
gave any information regarding his failed suicide attempt.

The neighbourhood guy agreed that it is bad that the girls have
committed suicide, it is not right to marry someone off forcibly. When
asked that what would be his/their plan of action if something like
this happens again, he said they would involve women next time
something like this happens and try to make the girls understand the
immorality and impossibility of such a situation rather than forcing
them into marriage. The Panchayet Pradhan also was unhappy about the
deaths and subsequent turn of events when the families refused to
cremate the deadbodies. He said that he was willing to organize funds
needed for their last rites but the families were not ready to do so,
though they cited poverty as their reason, he felt that immorality of
the act had actually forced the families to disown the girls. He also
said that he believes homosexuality is wrong because some group
involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in that area had declared so.
Police
personnel in the area, the sub-inspector of Tekhali police outpost,
in particular, seemed to be quite sensitive about the issue. Police
was willing to help the families in obtaining the bodies from morgue
but as the Pradhan, the S I also commented upon the families’
reluctance in arranging funeral rites due to the dead as non
acceptance of their lesbian relationship.

At this juncture, Sappho for Equality has already designed a targeted
intervention programme for eradicating violence against LBT persons
with long and short term work plans keeping this incident and other
similar incidents in focus.

Short term work plans

awareness camp in the Nandigram/Sonachura area after Assembly election
leafleting and campaigning with university and college students
keeping this incident at the centre
collaborating with Maitree (a forum of women’s rights groups and
individual activists in West Bengal) to present this case in the 8th
march programme (It had already been taken place)
Creating a violence dossier with similar reported incidents as ready reckoner.
Raising the issue of violence against LBT persons in every possible
fora and sharing this report with all interested organizations and
individuals working on similar or allied issues.

Long term work plan

advocacy and lobbying with the State Administrative System
police sensitization programme

Sappho for Equality is an Activist Platform Working for the Rights of
Sexually Marginalized (Les/Bi/Trans) Women in Kolkata

Queer Desis host a wedding celebration at India’s Day Parade!

1Aug

POSTED BY

Picture 67

Every year, here in the Bay Area, the FIA host the annual India Independence Day Mela & Parade. They have always welcome Trikone, that serves the South Asian Queer community in the San Francisco Bay Area & beyond. Their booth at the melas has always be so much fun and full of color. This year…Trikone plans to bring awareness and educate how the Defense Of Marriage Act, discriminates against the queer community and how we all deserve the right to get married.

Trikone will hold a MOCK wedding ceremony between two men and two women, the crowd at the mela will be encourage to participate and join in the festivities!!!

Be sure you come to the mela and stop by the Trikone Booth! It will be held Aug 14th and 15th in Fremont CA.

If you are interested in volunteering please email harsha[@]trikone.org

A) Booth Setup:
We need help with the booth setup. We will decorate the booth in traditional “mandap” style, with lots of festive fabric and flowers.
On the day of the event, we need atleast 4 volunteers to help us with the setup and bring down of the booth.
The setup will be done on Saturday Aug 14th and bring down on Sunday, Aug 15th.
The entire booth setup should not take more than 2 hours.
B) Fabric for the booth:
If you have traditional South Asian fabric/sarees that you can lend us please let us know.
If you are interested in helping us with the decorations/ideas for setting up the booth write me an email.
Even if you cannot physically be present, we are always looking out for fresh ideas from the community.
C) Make flower garlands:
We need volunteers who can make flower garlands out of loose flowers.
This can be done on the day of the event and should not take more than an hour.
D) Invitation card write up/design:
We will be handing out “Invitation cards” to passersby and inviting them to join us in the celebration.
If you are interested in designing the layout of the card, write-up or co-ordinate with the print out, please let us know.
Trikone will reimburse you for the print out.
Multiple volunteers can collectively accomplish this task
E) Mock Couple:
We need:
2 men to be the mock couple of Saturday
2 women to be the mock couple on Sunday.
Must be willing to wear traditional Indian attire.
Please write to us if you are interested in being the mock couple.

F) Wedding games co-ordinator:
In this position, you will be responsible to come with short (5 min) wedding related games that will engage the visitor with the wedding ceremony.
G) Wedding photographer:
As the wedding photographer, you would be taking pictures of visitors with the mock couple (if requested).
H) Wedding Guests:
As part of the wedding contingent, we need members of our community in festive apparel to participate and make our booth approachable and open.
We need you to send out positive vibes :)
I) Music co-ordinator:
Compile Bollywood Wedding songs (anywhere between 20-50) that could be played throughout the day!
J) Advocacy member:
As visitors approach our booth and we engage them with all the fun filled activities, we also want to spend a moment with them to let them know what Trikone is and how they can be an ally.