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Verdict turns upbeat mood sour; community won’t give up

The film 'Heart' made rounds of festival circuit in the US and Europe.

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Published: December 12, 2013 4:39 am

Gradually the feeling sank in. The decoration for the party scheduled for Wednesday morning at the office of Humsafar Trust in Santacruz East made little sense now. The SC verdict,which rejected decriminalisation of homosexuality,was out.

“I want to vent out my anger on the balloons,” said a volunteer at the trust,kicking a pile of balloons. “I want to burst them symbolically,but they won’t pop,” she grunted. “We were so ready!” she said,dropping the balloon.

Volunteers admitted that they were over-confident in speculating that the SC would rule in their favour. Anticipating victory,they were all set to party once the verdict was out. The disappointment,however,was too much to bear. “We had already decided the venue. This is very frustrating,” said a volunteer Ankur Srivastava. Poonam,another volunteer,pointing at a woman said,“She hasn’t stopped stopped crying since the verdict.” “We had planned to unfurl a huge rainbow flag over the building. Now it is lying unused. We had thrown all our anti-section 377 banners in the dustbin. Now we have to pick them up again,” said Poonam.

Post verdict,volunteers immediately wanted to carry out protest marches,first outside their office and then at Azad Maidan. Police turned down both the requests.

At an press conference in the evening,the trust announced that it would begin to reach out to political parties before the 2014 polls.

“We have tried to keep our movement clean and apolitical. However,if this issue goes to a parliamentary debate,we will have to engage with MPs,” said Pallav Patankar,Director,HIV Programs at Humsafar Trust.

He added that the organisation,Queer Azadi would reach out to political parties the way it had done before the 2009 parliamentary elections. “We will revive those efforts and approach each party. Even if they include even one line in their manifesto that would benefit the LGBT community,we will be happy. But that decision will be taken only after we read the fine print of the judgment and have a community consultation following that,” he said.

Patankar accused the Parliament of refusing to engage in positive discussions in the past. “Ours has never been a revolutionary movement. We have always tried to speak to MPs. They,however,have always been uncomfortable discussing our issues. In retrospect,we should have continued our efforts,but the writing is now on the wall,” he said.

For openly gay actor,hope springs eternal

Actor Nakshatra Bagve who turned 23 Wednesday was among several people who sat with bated breath in front of the television at the office of Humsafar Trust in Santacruz East waiting for the Supreme Court to deliver its verdict on section 377. When the verdict came out at 10.40 am,hopes that the SC will decriminalise homosexuality faded.

“It will still be a memorable birthday. We will fight harder than ever now to repeal section 377. I had been very positive in the morning and was hoping the SC would rule in our favour,” Bagve said.

“Hopefully,the review petition will give us relief,” he added.

Bagve,a resident of Mumbai,came out to his family when he was 17. After he realised he was attracted to a boy in his class,he went through a tormenting period — browsing the internet for hours in search of an answer. “But I realised I had to tell my family. We were seated at the dining table one night when I told my parents that I was gay. My mother said she hated me for what I had become. My parents said that they hoped that it was a phase which will pass. It took them five years to accept the fact that I am gay,” he said.

Last year,the media graduate made a short film called ‘Logging Out’. The film was based on gay men who create fake profiles on Facebook to date other men. It brought him unexpected fame. This helped his parents change their perspective on homosexuality. “I entered it into the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and won the Audience Choice Award. My mother was very proud when I won the award. My family now loves me for what I have achieved. From there,the film made rounds of festival circuit in the US and Europe,” he said.

Acting assignments followed soon. He starred in American filmmaker Afdhere Jama’s feature film,‘Heart’. The film was based on the experiences of a homosexual teenager in India. “I have also starred in a film called ‘My son is gay’,directed by Chennai-based filmmaker Lokesh. I have started working on another feature film,” he said.

srinath.rao@expressindia.com

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