(You will note that today’s post (if you are in fact the sort to note such things) is neither tagged not categorised regarding my various social handicaps. I did very well today, and deserve a cookie. Two cookies! The whole damn box!)
I spent the last two days at home, recharging batteries I didn’t know were drained, which is code for “I stayed in bed and read books and watched Star Trek: The Original Series while dreaming of being girl!Spock and marrying Kirk.” (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.) This is what I missed:
a. Queer Words – In essence, poetry. I am not a poetry person. When I am, it’s emo poetry. You know the type, you probably wrote some yourself back when you were thirteen years old. I was thinking of attending a TFA meeting instead, but decided that I could not risk the potential poetry of the event. Someone is going to have to tell me if I missed anything good.
b. LGBT experiences in Karnataka – LGBT activists from smaller cities in Karnataka, as well as rural areas we in Bangalore can sometimes overlook in our urban perspectives, led ‘a discussion on state-wide LGBT activism and possibilites of collaboration’. TN tells me it was a really good discussion, very informative. Also, there was dancing. I’m sorry I missed it, and I guess next time I’ll keep it in mind that I can’t afford to be lazy and hide behind my social nervousness to get out of doing stuff.
But today! Today I put on my Functional Literacy Hat. I ate my vegetables. I girded my loins to go to the Book Readings! Yay!
I got there the teensiest bit early and Helped by sitting at the t-shirts and stickers table for five minutes, selling five t-shirts and one sticker during my monopolistic reign of consumerist terror.
Vivek Shraya was our first writer today, reading out excerpts from his autobiographical collection, God Loves Hair. Shraya details life and love as he grew up, son of immigrant parents in Canada. His reading style was very clear – he’s obviously done this before. I gathered the sense of a bittersweet collection, rooted in a mature nostalgic perspective. I would have bought it if I’d had the cash for it. (500 ruppees! Fat chance.)
Shraya is also an alternative musician of some sort (sorry, Mr. Shraya, I’ll do better next time I blog about you!) and had one very enthused fan in the audience. (He has a lovely voice.) N was jumpily pleased to have met Shraya and got his autographed, and we jumped together to express her excitement. It was fun. Hi, N! I’m hoping I see you tomorrow!
Mahesh Natarajan is a very different sort of writer (for one thing, he has a lot less hair). His voice is, unfortunately, less clear (I always think it a pity when one speaker has a clearer voice than the other. I don’t think I’d notice if it weren’t for the comparison.) For all that, Natarajan’s stories hit a bit closer to home, if only because they’re set a bit closer to home. Natarajan now works as a counsellor (for Swabhava? I think he works for Swabhava).
This was Natarajan’s first reading – I did pick up his book, since the domestic publisher (Gyaana books) priced it at a very comfortable Rs. 165/-. Natarajan’s parents haven’t read the book yet, but his mum says she will. Slowly. The official book launch in Bangalore is happening on the 8th of December, at one of the Oxford bookstores. Apparently Dr. Sekhar Seshadri from NIMHANS will be presiding as guest of honour, which is quite a coup for a book release, it seems to me. 🙂
After which, we broke for tea; I bought a pride tshirt (with the lovely mango logo on it) and I made sure I had pens to spare. (I also did other stuff, but since I didn’t write it down I don’t remember it. Oooh I talked to N for a bit. And I think someone told me he needed to speak to me. Who was that? Damn.)
Part two of this event has no pictures! 😦
Sumathi from Sangama and Swathi from – I dunno where. Damn. I shall find out when Niruj puts up the report tomorrow. Anyway. Swathi and Sumathi chaired the open forum that followed. I took notes sporadically, but I shall type up a basic summary/list of the nearly-three hour multi-pronged conversation that followed:
- Vinay (of Swabhava/Good As You goodness) pointed out that pretty much everything that was raised as an issue – employment, adoption, housing, the lot – would be tackled across all points by some sort of anti-discrimination law/official state policy.
- Activism might have to aim at forcing social/government acceptance of LGBT peoples – in which case, activism would have to decide who its target audience is. Activism would also need to be a process, as opposed to contained events hoping to raise awareness.
- The issue of the medical establishment – costs of procedures such as Sex Reassignment Surgery, behaviours of the professionals involved in our care, access we (LGBT people in general, though I think at these points the conversations got specific to the transgender communities and perhaps those who were HIV+) have to hospitals and medical care. There’s also the issue of the patient’s own knowledge – you cannot be an advocate for your own care if you do not know what your options are, or if your doctors will not give a damn.
- We were all agreed that education – first in th simple “raising awareness” sense – was of some priority. JM reminded us that at some point raising awareness had to mean “bringing forth an understanding of acceptance and toleration” as opposed to simply informing the world that LGBT people exist. College students need to be approached in a way that makes them feel cool, since the youth these days, according to him, tend to sit in theatres and text all the time. We must bow to his more recent knowledge of college behaviour. Sumathi reminded us that education can happen in a more informal setting, completely divorced from schools and colleges – and that our containment to these institutions was rather discriminatory of us.
There was quite a lot more – remind me to talk about the desecration of dead here sometime, since that’s a fun topic of conversation, but these are the bits that stay with me.
After which, I was interviewed by someone doing research on queer women in urban spaces – they bought me dinner! (I’m not sure I should blither their name all over this post, so I shall not.) I felt very important and coherent, though really the interview just reestablished that I am very ambiguous and have no set opinions of my very own.
There’s some sort of Pride Benefit party happening right now – as I type! – set to go on till 2 a.m. T, Niruj, S and co. told me I should come along, but I pooh-poohed and otherwise poured scorn on the idea of partying, and came home.
Tomorrow is the March! I’ll bring my party wrist bands, and see you all at Tulsi Park!