Now that Section 377 is in the dustbin, Indian college campuses are hearing a chorus of voices speaking out about sexuality — a “silent revolution,” says this account, and one that doesn’t seem silent at all:
[W]ith the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Delhi High Court, young students are now more confident than ever and talking about sexuality openly and utilizing all available media to reach out en masse. “I chose to write about it in my blog because I could reach out to more people at a go instead of telling them one by one, and also if it was there in black and white, it would prove that it wasn’t just another gossip or rumour, since rumours in my college campus were created every hour,” says Deepak.
You’ve got to figure in a bit of Foucauldian wonder at all the talkativeness of it, and the sheer compulsion to speak that powers all this talk:
Apart from being a support group for queer students, these groups also realize that if things need to change in the society, society at large has to be educated on matters relating to alternate sexuality. “Our secondary aim is to build a positive environment and sensitize the student community. People should not be very afraid to come out. They should be more confident. They never talk… the silence is the problem and with Saathi [a queer group at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay] we aim to get them talking,” says Nivvedan.
It was with this aim that Saathi addressed freshers during the induction program at IIT Bombay. Apart from an introduction about Saathi, the address also clarified that homosexuality is nothing unnatural. The impact of the address can be gauged when Nivvedan tells, “Some of the freshmen posted in our mailing list saying ‘Thank you so much you have helped me. Just knowing that I am not alone and there are a lot of people around to help me is emotionally very reassuring.’”
Ardhek Akash also tries to engage the students of Presidency [Presidency College, Kolkata] through regular talk shows. The group invited Rituparno Ghosh and other actors of the movie Aarekti Premer Golpo, which was an acclaimed Bengali movie about a jatra artist and dealt with same-sex love. The whole cast and crew, along with Chapal Bhaduri – the jatra artist on whom the movie was based – answered questions fielded by students. Next the group invited noted lawyer Aditya Bondyopadhyay, who has been a key figure in the case involving Sec 377, to talk about his experiences and the misuse of Sec 377. The group has also invited a male-to-female transgender to talk about transgender issues.
And if you start with the personal giving voice to itself, it doesn’t instantly feel comfortable with the political:
A very remarkable thing about these student initiatives is that they very clearly state themselves to be non-political, away from the politics of sexuality. “Queer Campus [a Delhi-based independent queer student and youth collective] is a very personal space and not political. It is a celebratory space where you can just come in, share stories and develop friendships,” says Rahul.
But the politics will come. As Foucault knew, talking is always political, even more so the less politics is the subject. The talk just needs, in the process of talking to itself, to become self-aware. It also needs to become aware of its privilege — the particular situation that educated Indians occupy in relation to the rest of society, and how that affects their freedom to say, to experience, and to be.
Maybe the most remarkable thing, though, is the immediate effect that a judicial decision, a simple change in the dry letters of the law code, can have: all the babbling variety of voices that technical, arcane, and dust-encrusted verbiage can let loose. The trickle-down effect is from the specific and elite discourse to the general, from the language of the law to the language of human beings. Let’s see if it trickles down still further, out of the colleges. Let it roll.