Bombay Gymkhana : Discriminating Then, Discriminating Now

Earlier in April this year, Indian Trans activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, an invitee of the TEDx conference at Mumbai was asked to leave by the Management of the Bombay Gymkhana. All this happened while the conference was in session. As a sign of solidarity several people walked out. Dailies and tabloids wrote about this and everyone screamed at such a blatant act of discrimination. The President of the club just went into hiding, no questions answered. The Management had not expressed any regret; not even a melodramatic half-hearted apology was rendered. Not that it would have made any difference.

Earlier in April this year,  Indian Trans activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, an invitee of the TEDx conference at Mumbai was asked to leave by the Management of the Bombay Gymkhana.[Link] All this happened while the conference was in session. As a sign of solidarity several people walked out. Dailies and tabloids wrote about this and everyone screamed at such a blatant act of discrimination. The President of the club just went into hiding, no questions answered. The Management had not expressed any regret; not even a melodramatic half-hearted apology was rendered. Not that it would have made any difference.

Laxmi at a press meet following the incident

Within a week after the incident, an appeal was filed with the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission that kickstarted the process of rebuttal. Summons were served to the Bombay Gymkhana.7 months later, I am wondering what happened after that?Anyone?

There is no news about this in the Media. My searches in Google ended in vain. Is this going to be just another case of “shit happened – let’s forget and  move along” types? Or will this be yet an other case of the Babugiris gobbling it up and turning it into a landmark case- a verdict which will probably be postponed 3 times and delayed by 20 years. By then, we all would have forgotten this and moved ahead with our lives. Except that, we would be screaming about the being discriminated then. Who knows,  we might even crown the jackass with a Padmashri who perpetrated this crime by then. After all, do not we run a democracy which is made of criminals, rabble-rousers, monument demolitionists and bank launderers?

Celina Jaitley made a bold attempt in asking for Boycott of the club. I wonder how many other Bollywood figures/superstars supported her in this venture. We have Aamir Khan talk about Incredible India on an ad, I wonder if this is a part of India he wishes to stay put with. And what about all the beauty queens turned actresses- what happened to their banal replies of  “I will work towards equality” bullshit? Where is everyone? Why does Bollywood go in support of fellow artists who openly harbor weapons and ammunition while they don’t see this as an act of transgression in society.

Well, the Club itself has a marvelous history. As a stooge of the Royal British empire I can imagine a couple of  good punchlines for them to suck in a little more straight-rich-elite-superstars crowd-  “Serving fine discrimination, Since 1875” or may be, as a tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “100 years of isolationism and discrimination”. They could as well adopt any of these as a tag line.

As for the TV media – it is an attitude of  “Will it raise our  ratings tonight?” question, isn’t it?  Of course human dignity is secondary, because currently CWG almost ended in a fiasco.

Why is it important to us?

A law has been broken, a human’s dignity has been compromised. By not having sufficient laws for hate crimes and by not making arrests, we have just shown ourselves to be the nincompoop of a democracy we have always been. It is a slap on the face to every person out there who could be potentially discriminated. That leaves only the thrice convicted babus, the swamyjis, and the upper class -urbane-influential-male Indian population to exist in peace and enjoy the comforts of luxury never mind how much ever tainted the organization they support  be. Well, I don’t have much hopes from the aam junta either because the “normal” parents are probably telling their kids this will what happen if you are different thus pushing a whole new generation of dreamy creative kids into not coming out. Or they are actively seeking a bride in the market for their son – the one who can fetch a high price, Or they are just harassing their newly married kids in the family to do their rightful duty – “Populate”! The media by not playing it up is turning a blind eye on open discrimination.  We are as much culpable of watching on the sidelines as much as we are in perpetrating them. Only that, we can be happy on the fact that there are a billion of us perpetrators now. Kudos!

About the author

Rashmi

Rashmi grew up in India and now she enjoys her time living in one of the queerest places in the world. She started transitioning a while back and is gradually coming out to people she thinks are cool enough for her. She enjoys discussing any topic under the sun and has an opinion about anything and everything. She thinks of herself as someone who can only hold intelligent conversations with people, when in reality she is totally insane and crazy, not to mention she has been highly hormonal recently. *GRIN*