When the span of the year rolls out before you like an endless turnpike, your mind naturally dwells on routes, stopovers and destinations. As I direct my attention to the undulating months and meandering weekends, I also like to think about the rules of the road. To chew over these lessons on living at the very beginning of the year smacks suspiciously of new year resolutions. Instead, I contemplate these lessons now as February comes to a close; an apt time for a reality check in the hope that a sedentary month is not representative of its eleven siblings to come.
These seven lessons for eleven months are drawn from the songs of a queer icon, Ani DiFranco and perhaps offer suggestions for queer folks in India at large. If these messages feel too much like a prescription or a pontification, you could skip them and go to the songs and have them speak to you directly.
February & March
“And the Goddess sent word that
this would be a red letter year
They didn’t mention how much shit
was gonna change around here.”
Section 377, petitions, Modi, AAP and more; what does the future hold for queer Indians? Whether the changes are for or against us, it’s certainly going to be a red letter year. Being prepared and proactive may be the only way to ready ourselves for the inevitable. It’s that other P word – procrastination – we ought to be wary of.
“Guess I came out here to see
some stuff for myself I mean,
why leave the telling
up to everybody else”
For far too long have we allowed others to narrate our stories, express our ire and fight for our rights. While we should applaud those who invest time and effort towards furthering our cause, our experiences deserve to be heard in our own voices. Whether it’s waving the rainbow flag from the top of a building or sharing your thoughts online, it’s critical that we help build visibility for “The Miniscule Minority” in whichever medium we are comfortable with.
May & June
“And monogamy is that carnival trophy you earn
when you throw that ball into that urn
It’s somewhat dumb luck, somewhat learned
and you just know when it’s your turn.”
As we fight for the right to love, we can’t ignore the pachyderm in the room – that elusive virtue in relationships that we seasonally crave and perennially betray. Perhaps, if we spend less time looking and fretting and more time being engaged with the things that are happening around us, whatever it is that we desire might just fall into our laps.
“I will look at everything around me
and I will vow to bear in mind
that all of this was just someone’s idea
it could just as well be mine.”
While we walk around this prejudiced world of ours, we need to recognize that bigotry is born out of the mikes, pens, keyboards, lenses and paintbrushes of people made of flesh and blood like us, albeit assholes. We have access to all those tools as well, along with an infinite reservoir of ideas – all just waiting to see the light of day.
August & September
“They say goldfish got no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
the little plastic castle
is a surprise every time.”
In a world swamped with words and images, what will make our ideas stand out is an innovative and engaging manner of presentation. The ability to be creative comes from newness of experience, not from doing variations of the same thing repeatedly. This may mean placing ourselves in situations that we find uncomfortable, even a little scary, but the rewards will be far more than a little plastic castle.
October & November
“Cause I know there is strength
in the differences between us
and I know there is comfort
where we overlap.”
When we find ourselves in these unfamiliar situations in protests, performances and the like, we may meet queer folks who look, talk and think very differently than us. And that’s alright because people are fine as they are. Desiring a world where everyone is the same is redolent of a heterosexual fantasy, not a homosexual one. Being a little more accepting of differences doesn’t cost much and it goes a long way towards creating the inclusive society we dream about.
“We can dance ’round like monkeys
after the paparazzi have gone home
having let go forever
the fallacy of ever being alone”
And when the protest winds down, the cops retreat to their armoured vans and the reporters to their rags, we will stick around because that’s what we do. Then, when the drums come out, we will sing, dance, play and be ourselves because to be queer is to be a part of a community; and because being a queer desi means you can forever forgo that fallacy of ever being alone.
Playlist: Song by Ani Difranco
Red Letter Year
Little plastic castle
Round a pole