Proud; Also Exhausted, Bewildered, OUT (somewhat)!

Not necessarily in that order.

What with Pride, Good As You and other things, I’ve been meeting loads of people lately – it’s an active social life, with the disconcerting realisation that there are people here (not all of them, obviously, but an unexpectedly large number) whom I actively like. Friends!

It’s shocking.

Every so often one of them would say, You’re coming to the Pride Eval(uation) meeting, right? And after a point (when I figured out when and where it was) I’d say Maybe, Why Not and finally: Sure! Because, what the hell, it’s not like I have anything else to do.

Leave aside the issue of finding the goddamn ALF, which resides quietly and busily on Infantry road; I made my way there merrily enough, and then woke up to the realisation that most of the people there were, in fact, organisers, either officially or unofficially, and what the hell was I doing there?

Either because they remembered they’d invited me, or because they were too polite to throw me out, or because I’M SO AWESOME, they didn’t throw me out.

It was interesting – in fact, fascinating. I’ve known some of these people a while now, but always in a more social, non–meeting-with-agenda setting. The general air was pleased, but also somewhat brisk. Let’s wrap up this thing, it’s been going on for months now, and we’ve done well but we’re done.

The 2010 Bengaluru Pride was funded entirely through donations, with no corporate or institutional sponsorship. I’m not going into numbers, but they did well, especially considering how thankless a process collecting donations can be. Suffice it to say that Pride 2010 is safely in the black. Hooray for budgeting!

They went over the initial planning meetings. Was decision-making inclusive, egalitarian and inclusive? Apparently, (and with some surprise from unnamed people) yes. Were we to worry that the hijra presence seemed less obvious than the last two year’s? Yes, but also no: they’re currently in the middle of negotiation certain issues amongst themselves (not entirely sure, but it involves identity and identification); they’ve had some grief recently and needed to heal and deal; hey, they were there, whole-heartedly, for the things they wanted to be part of. But also yes, just because.

S (there were so many S’s, so this is S1) noted that there were more women and transgender persons in this Pride, making this the least patriarchal event so far. (Hah!)

Media coverage was another thing. The media coverage for 2010’s Pride was pretty shit. The discussion that went on here was long and rambling, but the final consensus seemed to be that

  • there needed to be an official media team, with members who had no (or very few) other duties
  • the Media Team need to chase/harass/be in constant touch with the actual media, reporters, reps etc. to make sure that whatever else, we’ve done our bit to keep them in the loop
  • next time, we should find the LGBT-friendly journalists (especially the older, established names) and get them to help!
  • the reporters who showed but didn’t write anything? we should contact them, do a little follow-up to see if they will now

S2 noted that while Pride may not have received the coverage we wanted, we weren’t sensationalised either, which is all to the good. R noted that sensationalism and coverage are the only ways we reach the people who’re still at home, closeted, hiding, or just feeling alone. On which stalemated note,  we moved on!

(I’ve shifted pronouns from “them” to “us”. I shall continue, because I’m self-involved enough to feel like it’s correct, but in all honesty I did feel a fraud to be there at all.)

Of overlapping concern was the website. It seemed obvious that the Media Team would have to be in close contact with the Website Team (and there needed to be a Website Team!). Whoever worked on the website would need to put things there in Kannada as well as English, right from the start. (Apparently uploading stuff in Kannada is a real hassle on the current site design, I dunno how that works.)

Every report needs to be in both English and Kannada – which lead on a tangent to the issue of translation. S2 spoke about the need to generate our own discourse in Kannada, lifting from English for terminology where convenient, or whatever. (There was talk of compiling a glossary of terms, which is geeky and adorable.) If necessary, the next time around we shall hunt up professional translators to do the job.

Next year’s Pride is likely to be in July, coinciding with the Naz judgement anniversary. July is a nicer time of year, if overly warm. (Planning would start in, like, April or so. That’s barely any time!)

G suggested that a week of concentrated events was silly. Why not stretch it out, with breaks, over a month? D added that this would be useful in making it a larger event, with some focus on Karnatakan queer persons (blanket-terming here, sorry) and not just the urban set.

(I’m not sure whether that’s a GREAT FUCKING AWESOME IDEA or a tiresome waste of an entire month where our lives will revolve around our statements of our sexualities whether we’re out or not. Or both at once, which is what most of my life feels like at the moment.)

S3 (3?) noted that the next Pride needs to be at least big as this event, and if possible, bigger. I am so fucking sorry for the poor sods who volunteer for the next Pride, really I am. Good luck, you, whoever you are!

I’m skipping over the individual events for the most part, except to make note:

  • panel discussions and open forum stuff is best scheduled to weekends and not weekdays during working hours
  • The Transgender Day of Remembrance is an event independent of Pride, and always will be (which means next year the organising, what’s needed of it, will be handled by someone other than the Pride Committee? Or will they do it too, as a last huzzah?)
  • The Drama Baazi and Film Shorts are likely to be long processes with exposure during Pride, but not limited in labour or time to that month

And the leftover cash? Hand it over to the next Pride group? Invest in merchandise? Fund the Film-maker and theatre enthusiasts? Keep it for themselves? (I still sort of think they should have!) Use it to start a Crisis Fund?

Finally, they decided to fund the follow-up events – such as the film-making etc. – and the rest goes to the next Pride.

There is a fascinating in watching these people – some of whom I am going to get to know very well, I hope – in a working scenario, however informal. In seeing the maneuverings of several trains of persistent thought and the negotiations between them – in three languages no less.

I’ll be in Bangalore still next July, and I hope I’m in contact with the cooks making Pride broth, just to see how they work together, how they make decisions and get things done. It seems so WEIRD, a bunch of random people working towards a common goal from their hearts as opposed to their wallets or need to serve a formal authority.

After which, we ate! And then I went home.

My mum, well, has been suspecting that I was hiding something for a while. And she pushed, a bit. Amongst other gems she asked:

  • were all these people I am hanging out with employed?
  • were the unemployed ones rich people with nothing better to do?
  • who were these people anyway?
  • could I not find people I liked this much in other groups?

So I told her I was “bi”. (It’s a rather limiting term really, especially in these days of fluid genders and sexualities, but it’s also convenient.) It didn’t go badly. Just not well.

In the conversation that followed, my mum decided to tell me that I am immature. In context, it sounded like she meant that with reference to my sexuality. In retrospect, I realise she meant it about all of me. She is perfectly okay with whom I may or may not love, may or may not marry.

Hooray for openness, unyay for self-respect, I guess.

Fortunately, the next day we hugged and made up. My mum is always more sensible in daylight. She hasn’t taken it back, about my immaturity, and of course I still fucking resent that. But it’s better than being thrown out of the house or told that my attractions aren’t valid or – well, whatever else people come up with.

(It turns out: I was invited to the Eval meet because I was there. No more, no less. The world does not revolve around you, Roh!)

(I was supposed to post this last Friday. When all of this actually happened. But I am lazy, and this is my blog so I can do what I like! Mwuhahahahaha, etc.)

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