Update on Werewolves

Today I was very happy that the internets gave me a new, hip poem with the above title by one of my favorite authors: here.

This is awesome because:

(1) It’s an update on werewolves, ok?  Yeah.  By definition: awesome.

(2) The author, Margaret Atwood, is 72 years old, has 332,495 Twitter followers right this minute, and has published 13 novels + 15 poetry collections + a bunch of other books — and she is Trying New Technologies that I have never heard of.  (Meanwhile, I may still be too tech-skeered to get an iPhone.) This poem, for example, is on a new self-publishing platform/community called WattPad.

Most people know Margaret Atwood as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which became a film starring Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall.

She  is an awesome writerly role model for me because she writes fantastic, super-popular, feminist, subversive novels, many of which are set in alternate realities.  I was talking about Atwood earlier today to a client who is writing an awesome speculative fiction novel. (Beloved client: the books I was telling you about are Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake, and I was thinking of the storyline involving the God’s Gardeners, a small community of survivors of a planetary biological catastrophe.)

That is all for now, except:

Yes, I am aware that I say “awesome” more than the average citizen of the planet.  This is because I am an American, unlike Margaret Atwood who is Canadian.  Canadians, by the way, are awesome, eh?

Hope you, dear reader, have an awesome day, and do watch this if you have a couple of minutes to get pleasantly spooked:

Book trailer for Wolf Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws, and Lycogyny (2012)

Gay, Indian, etc.

Had a really lovely event at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last night. They’re doing a whole month on India so I’m hoping to go see my friend Vini speak on August 23 (she’s awesome, who wants to go with me?). And then I have my own talk on Thursday, August 25 (I’m awesome, click here to buy your tickets now! heh!). Here’s the description of my talk:

India and Her Fragments:
Migrations from Old to New Worlds

The story of India’s 30-million-and-growing worldwide diaspora is reshaping trade, identity and culture all around the globe. Fresh from a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in India, Hajratwala will speak on what Americans need to know today about the rapidly changing country to which nearly 2 million Americans trace their roots. Hajratwala will draw from the seven years of research that led to her nonfiction book, Leaving India, winner of a California Book Award (Silver) and three other literary awards.

I always love speaking at the Commonwealth Club because, having listened to their public radio broadcasts for years, I love watching someone (in this case the charming Julian Chang) pound the gavel that begins and ends each session. Yes, my name is Minal and I am a public radio geek.

Last night’s event was cool. I’d just flown into SFO the day before so it was great to jump right in — a panel discussion on being gay & Indian. The Sexy Grammarian showed up with her sexy wife, the panel was packed with longtime friends from my old Trikone organizing days, and the audience of about 50 was enthusiastic and articulate.

I got a chance to talk about some trends in the LGBT movement as I’ve observed it in India and to plug the upcoming anthology I’m editing for Queer Ink. Apparently the discussion will be broadcast on Diya TV and KQED radio sometime soon, so I’ll post the links when they go up.

There were some really nice, enthusiastic folks in the audience who were totally sweet to me. I sold a couple of books. One young man had driven up all the way from LA to see me speak and get a signed book! Totally made my night.

All in all, a lovely re-entry to my favorite city in the world.

For parents/families/friends of desi LGBT people

Hi friends,

A quick post to share two resources.

1)

A Mumbai-based parent whose daughter is a lesbian is starting a support group for desi families and friends. Parents, relatives, and friends of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender — as well as anyone who identifies as LGBT who would like to collaborate in developing this process of dialog — can email her at familyandfriends@queer-ink.com.

Please feel free to share this contact information widely.

All emails and identities will be kept confidential.

I am so excited about this because I’ve gotten to know this mom, Chitra Palekar, a little bit, and her enthusiasm for this issue is wonderful. She is one of a group of parents who signed a petition as part of the legal case to decriminalize homosexuality in India. She has done several media interviews to help promote the legal cause; on CNN here recently, she debated (and demolished) a rightwing pundit who tried to say homosexuality is against ‘family values’ — by discussing her own family, and modeling love and support for her own daughter who was there with her. She is an acclaimed Marathi filmmaker herself. She is doing this with the support of Queer Ink and Humsafar Trust, and the goal is confidential parent-to-parent communication.

To read a brief article about Chitra’s journey, click here.

The idea of a group for parents/families has been a topic of conversation and ideas for at least as long as I’ve been out (20 years!), and even longer I’m sure. I think it’s wonderful that there is now a parent who is taking public leadership on this topic.

2)

I also want to recommend the new award-winning documentary, “I Am” by Sonali Gulati:

I Am chronicles the journey of an Indian lesbian filmmaker who returns to Delhi, eleven years later, to re-open what was once home, and finally confronts the loss of her mother whom she never came out to. As she meets and speaks to parents of other gay and lesbian Indians, she pieces together the fabric of what family truly means, in a landscape where being gay was until recently a criminal and punishable offense.

The film is currently making the rounds and there are screenings all over the world in June, July, and August 2011. For dates and locations, as well as to see the beautiful trailer for the film, click here.

As one of the reviews of Sonali’s film notes, the take-home point is when the mother of one of the queer young people proclaims: It is “not necessary that you be alone.”

Sweet Boy Kitty Seeks Loving Home

*guest blog by Little Clarence*

littleclarence_2

My person is moving overseas, so I am looking for a new cuddle partner and feeder in the San Francisco Bay Area, starting in early September 2010.

About me: Grey short-haired mestizo, healthy, approximately 6 years old, formerly wild, cleans up well, cross-eyed, pleasantly plump, a little shy at first, very affectionate once I get to know you.

A typical day in my life: Sleeping (93%), cuddling/purring (11%), eating (8%), chasing things (2.5%).  That is catrithmetic by the way, so don’t worry if your puny human brain can’t handle the math.

Special skills: Excellent at hunting (I will defeat any evil string armies or rodents attempting to invade your house).  Type 80 wpm (can’t guarantee you’ll know the words in my vast vocabulary, though). Experienced companion to writers, artists, and meditators.  Accessory consultant (see photo shoots below).

Comes with: Favorite teddy bear and blankie, kitty condo/scratching post, litter boxes, supply of food & litter, toys, current shots.

Inquiries/interest: contact (at) minalhajratwala.com

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**Note from Minal: Little Clarence has FIV (feline version of HIV). He has not yet developed symptoms, is expected to stay healthy for several years, and currently has no special medical needs or care. However, to prevent transmission to other cats, he will ideally be an indoor cat and be in a home with no other cats (or cats who are also FIV+).


Experienced writer’s companion seeks new home, short- or long-term

*guest blog by Little Clarence*

littleclarence_2

Experienced writer’s companion seeks new home, short- or long-term

My person is off to travel overseas for a while, so I am looking for a temporary cuddle partner and feeder in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dates flexible but approximately Nov 1 – Jan 15. Possibly longer-term if we get along really well (i.e. you do everything I want)!

About me: Grey short-haired mestizo, approximately 5 years old, formerly wild, cleans up well, cross-eyed, pleasantly plump, healthy, a little shy at first, very affectionate once I get to know you.

A typical day in my life: Sleeping (93%), eating (11%), cuddling/purring (8%), chasing things (2.5%).  That is catrithmetic by the way, don’t worry if your puny human brain can’t handle the math.

Special skills: Excellent at hunting (I will defeat any evil string armies or rodents attempting to invade your house).  Type 80 wpm (can’t guarantee you’ll know the words in my vast vocabulary, though). Accessory consultant (see photo shoots below).

Comes with: Favorite teddy bear and blankie, kitty condo/scratching post, litter boxes, supply of food & litter, toys, coverage for any medical/emergency expenses.

Inquiries/interest: contact (at) minalhajratwala.com

**Note from Minal: Little Clarence has FIV (feline version of HIV).  He has not yet developed symptoms, is expected to stay healthy for several years, and currently has no special medical needs or care. However, to prevent transmission to other cats, he does need to be an indoor cat and be in a home with no other cats (or cats who are also FIV+).

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Gay press reports FIA apology over India Day Parade

Wednesday Aug 19, 2009 — A gay online news site reported today that an executive of the group that organizes the annual India Day Parade in Manhattan apologized for the exclusion of a gay and lesbian organization from the parade.

Nirav Mehta, executive vice president of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), told a reporter for EDGE that the exclusion of the South Asian Lesbian Gay Association (SALGA) was due to a volunteer’s clerical error.

“We apologize,” Mehta told the reporter. “There was some confusion and mistakes, and we will be more than happy to welcome them next year. They can be part of our parade, and we will have no problem.”

The latest statement contradicts SALGA’s experience of the application process as well as earlier statements by FIA officials. Emails and phone records retained by SALGA document an FIA representative stating that SALGA’s request was forwarded to the FIA board for approval.  FIA President Dipak Patel, reached by phone last Friday, stated emphatically that the exclusion was not an administrative error.

Additional information:

Latest on the controversy and resource list for journalists & others: http://www.minalhajratwala.com/2009/08/gays-barred-from-ny-india-day-parade-resource-list/

EDGE article (8/19/09) reporting FIA apology: http://www.edgeunitedstates.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=95244

Account of Sunday’s protests (8/16/09): http://www.minalhajratwala.com/2009/08/gay-hind-ny-india-day-parade-draws-protesters/

Photographs of Sunday’s protests available for media use (8/16/09) (MUST be credited to Roopa Singh, http://politicalpoet.wordpress.com):  http://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpoetry/

“Gay Hind”: NY India Day Parade Draws Protesters

Photos in this post were taken Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009 by Roopa Singh: http://politicalpoet.wordpress.com

By Minal Hajratwala

Sunday, August 16, 2009– Lesbian and gay Indo-Americans and their allies marched and demonstrated along the route of Manhattan’s annual India Day Parade today, with signs reading “Gay Hind,” “Indian Gay Proud,” and “Shame Shame FIA, Homophobia is so last year.”

photo: roopa singh/salga indian gay proud

The demonstrators were protesting the decision by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) to bar the South Asian Lesbian Gay Association (SALGA) from one of the largest Indian Independence Day celebrations outside of India. More than 50,000 people attend the annual parade, which stretches from 28th St to 41st St in midtown Manhattan. The FIA’s action came on the heels of India’s recent court decision, in July, that cited “the inclusiveness that Indian society typically displayed” as the basis for overturning a 150-year-old anti-gay law.

FIA Executive Vice President Nirav Mehta, characterized by the online newsjournal DesiTalk as “part of the younger leadership that is coming to the helm of FIA,” told a DesiTalk reporter in July that the FIA “has stood for the entire community on political, social, whatever issues” and hopes to continue to do so.

FIA President Dipak Patel, reached by telephone on Friday, August 14, echoed that sentiment, saying “anyone is welcome to march.”

But Mr. Patel quickly clarified that there was a process for organizations wanting to march, likening it to that of a college where some “some people get in, some people don’t.”  SALGA had filed an application but received no response. When asked whether the exclusion of SALGA was an administrative error, Mr. Patel forcefully said no.

On the same day in Mumbai, India’s largest city, thousands of people joined the city’s annual Gay Pride march to celebrate a recent court ruling that was a landmark for gay rights in India. On July 2, the High Court of Delhi read down a ban on gay sex that had been introduced by the British when they ruled India.

In a statement, SALGA expressed dismay with the FIA’s decision, particularly in the wake of the Indian High Court ruling. “The court stated powerfully and succinctly that intolerance is not an Indian value,” SALGA said in its statement. “Despite such a monumental victory for sexual minorities in India, we are outraged and disappointed that … the FIA is once again trying to make Indian sexual minorities invisible through its discriminatory acts.”

The two organizations have a long history of conflict over the India Day Parade, dating back to the mid-1990s. Over a period of years, the FIA came up with various explanations for why SALGA could not participate. As reported in the New York Times, in 1995, only “Indian” rather than “South Asian” groups were allowed; in 1996, only “dues-paying” organizations were allowed; and in other years, “Federation officials had also said they considered displays of gay pride to be incompatible with a parade celebrating Indian pride.”

To combat such shifting policies, according to a Samar magazine article by activist Svati P. Shah, SALGA and its allies were able to “galvanize a coalition of progressive South Asian organizations, provisionally called the South Asian Progressive Task Force, in 1997.” After years of protest, and with the intervention of a local government body that required the FIA to sign a non-discrimination pledge in order to gain a permit for the use of public streets, SALGA was allowed to march in the India Day Parade in 2000.

Since then, the annual event has been a non-issue, until this year’s surprise action by the FIA. This is the 29th annual parade in New York and the first year that the parade was webcast live and televised by TV Asia. Privately, some community members have speculated that the plans for television coverage led the FIA to take a more conservative stance.

Whatever the cause, progressive South Asian activists and bloggers have spoken out against the FIA’s action. Sapna Pandya, coordinator of the South Asian Health Initiative in New York, called it “one giant leap backwards for Indian-kind” in an email circulated last week. SAKHI, the New York-based domestic violence organization, invited SALGA members to join its contingent in the parade.  Commentaries were published on the well-read Sepia Mutiny and Desicritics sites, as well as on blogs by lawyer Leena R. Kamat and writer/academic Roopa Singh. Desis United created an online petition drive to protest the FIA’s action.

But responses to the blog postings have been mixed, with some anonymous commenters agreeing with the FIA’s decision to exclude the gay group because, for example, “I am sure that the organisers would have objected to something like ‘Lip and eyebrow piercing association of south Asia’ participating in that event as well.”

On the West Coast, activists gathered signatures in support of SALGA at the large Festival of India celebration in Fremont, California, on Saturday and Sunday.  The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization Trikone participates regularly in the Fremont celebration, which is run by the Federation of Indian Associations Northern California (FIA-NC) and is independent of the New York organization.

Longtime Northern California community organizer Shambu “Sam” Rao said in an e-mail,  “Over the course of the many years of the festival, Indian senior citizens (straight) and housewives had spoken up at the FIA-NC meetings to continue invite gays to the Festival. … Gay Indians and supporters are welcome.”

—By Minal Hajratwala, with additional reporting by Barnali Ghosh and photographs by Roopa Singh.  This article may be reprinted with attribution.

Minal Hajratwala is a San Francisco writer and the author of the nonfiction epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), which has been called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by The Washington Post.

Additional photographs from Sunday’s India Day Parade in Manhattan are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpoetry/ and may be republished; MUST be credited to “Roopa Singh: http://politicalpoet.wordpress.com”.

For further background and sources on the India Day Parade, please click here.

salga reppin.14 by paleolithicreality.

Gays barred from NY India Day Parade: Resource list

The Federation of Indian Associations barred the South Asian Lesbian Gay Association from the huge annual India Day Parade in Manhattan on Sunday August 16. This is a roundup of community statements and developments on this breaking-news controversy, intended for use by journalists, activists, and interested community members.

What’s happening:

The gay lesbian group SALGA and its allies fought a long battle in the 1990s for inclusion in the India Day Parade, which draws more than 50,000 people to march down 13 blocks of Manhattan to celebrate India’s independence day. The group won inclusion in 2000 and has marched without incident for several years. This year, the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), which puts on the annual event, failed to respond to the gay group’s application to march, effectively barring it from the August 16 parade.

Activists organized protests within the march and along the parade route and urged supporters to telephone and email the parade organizers. This was the 29th annual parade in New York and the first year that the parade was televised by TV Asia and webcast live.

The controversy came on the heels of India’s recent court decision, in July, that cited “the inclusiveness that Indian society typically displayed” as the basis for overturning a 150-year-old anti-gay law.

Please post a comment or send an email request if:

• you are a working journalist and would like names and phone numbers of individuals who are willing to be interviewed on this topic.
• you are a writer, editor, photographer, etc. with images, commentary, or other coverage to share.
• you are an activist or community member and have news, a statement, links, or photographs that you would like to have included on this resource page.

Please feel free to repost or quote from this posting, with attribution to the original writer where appropriate.

Contacts

ºº Federation of Indians in America (FIA)
Dipak Patel, President
973-464-4515
dipakpatel@fianynjct.org
Other FIA Executive Committee members phone numbers and emails

ºº South Asian Lesbian Gay Association (SALGA)
salganyc@hotmail.com
Latest information is on the SALGA Facebook page
SALGA spokesperson: Priyanka Mitra, office@cb5.org

Breaking News

Gay press reports FIA apology over India Day Parade

NEW: Wednesday Aug 19, 2009 — A gay online news site reported today that an executive of the group that organizes the annual India Day Parade in Manhattan apologized for the exclusion of a gay and lesbian organization from the parade.

Nirav Mehta, executive vice president of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), told a reporter for EDGE that the exclusion of the South Asian Lesbian Gay Association (SALGA) was due to a volunteer’s clerical error.

“We apologize,” Mehta told the reporter. “There was some confusion and mistakes, and we will be more than happy to welcome them next year. They can be part of our parade, and we will have no problem.”

The latest statement contradicts SALGA’s experience of the application process as well as earlier statements by FIA officials. Emails and phone records retained by SALGA document an FIA representative stating in July that SALGA’s request was forwarded to the FIA board for approval.  FIA President Dipak Patel, reached by phone last Friday, stated emphatically that the exclusion was not an administrative error.

Desis United urges supporters to sign online petition

This link <http://citizenspeak.org/node/1720> leads to this petition:

From: Your Name <you@example.com>
To: dipakpatel@fianynjct.org, niravmehta@fianynjct.org, jmody@yahoo.com, hareshhemrajani@fianynjct.org, devenpatel@fianynjct.org, ahmedshakir@fianynjct.org, ypsoi@aol.com
Subject: Shame on NY/NJ/CT FIA for excluding LGBTQ Indians

Your Personal Statement
I’m deeply disappointed that the tri-state FIA chose to exclude gay and lesbian Indians from the 2009 India Day Parade in New York City.
2009 was a special year for all Indians, because it marked the beginning of the end of the British-era restrictions on gay and lesbian Indians. All people of Indian origin have reason to be proud, seeing India throw off antiquated colonial laws and enter the 21st century.
Why was the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association’s application to march in the India Day Parade ignored, and their follow-ups not acknowledged?
Why didn’t the FIA directly contact SALGA or other Indian LGBTQ cultural organizations to participate in the Parade on this particularly historic year?
The FIA’s actions are an embarrassment to our community. I hope you will get in touch with SALGA to resolve this issue, and ensure that any issues are resolved before next year’s India Parade.
Thank you.
Your Name
Your Organization
123 Your St.
Yousville, YO 12345
Phone: (123)456-7890
Fax: (123)456-7890×123

Photographs available

NEW: Photographs from SALGA’s march in the India Day Parade are available here as a Flickr stream and may be used freely by news organizations; MUST be credited to “Roopa Singh (http://politicalpoet.wordpress.com).”

India Day organizer says exclusion is like rejecting a college applicant

Two community members spoke separately with FIA President Dipak Patel on Friday afternoon, August 14, 2009. During the first call, from Anirvan Chatterjee, Mr. Patel vehemently denied any knowledge of the SALGA petition. By the time of the second call, he apparently knew more.  From an email written Friday by community member Barnali Ghosh (published with permission):

I just got off the phone with Dipak Patel, president of the tri-state FIA, the organizers of the New York FIA Day Parade. We spoke for about 10 minutes.

Mr Patel was polite and willing to talk. He said “anyone is welcome to march,” but quickly clarified that there was a process for organizations wanting to march, likening it to that of a college where some “some people get in, some people don’t.”

However, when asked if the exclusion of SALGA was an administrative error, he very forcefully said no.

When asked what he thought about this possibly becoming a larger scandal (given that the exclusion was already on Facebook and Sepia Mutiny), he said “you’re using words like scandal now, I have to ask you to stop.” He then went on to explain that the media has already seen all the good work they’ve been doing.

When asked if someone at FIA could contact SALGA to resolve the issue, he said he’d refer it to his media team.

Patel made a big deal of the fact that the event will be televised live, for the first time ever. (I wonder what he’s going to think of annoyed queer Indians marching in the Sakhi contingent, being telecast live.)

Protests planned at Sunday parade;
email campaign targets celebrities, organizers

Statement from SALGA/SAKHI on Friday, August 14, 2009 (see Facebook event page):

On Thursday July 2nd, the Delhi High Court delighted gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Indians and their allies by reading down Indian Penal Code Section 377 to not include consensual gay sex.

It is most disappointing therefore that in this year, with such a monumental victory for sexual minorities in India, the FEDERATION OF INDIAN ASSOCIATIONS decided not to respond to our petition to march at the annual India Day Parade.

We ask LGBT South Asians and other progressives to stand with us and against discrimination.

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your emails and interest in the protest against SALGA’s exclusion from the India Day festivities in New York City. If you are in New York City on Sunday, Aug 16th, you could either join SALGA as it marches under the banner of SAKHI, a local women’s group that campaigns against domestic violence OR you could join a group of us as we stand on the parade route and protest against SALGA’s exclusion from the festivities.

1. Join us as we prepare protest posters at the Starbucks Coffee on Madison Ave and 41st St at 10 AM on Sunday August 16th. Feel free to bring your own posters to the protest.

2. Join us as we gather before the march and protest at 11.15 AM with the SAKHI contingent at 41st St at Madison Ave. If you’re looking for us, call me (Mario) on 646-884-3945 or Sapna on 202-641-8207.

If you are not in New York, you can write to Shilpa Shetty, who will be the Grand Marshal for the festivities asking her to speak against SALGA’s exclusion. Another of the chief guests for the evening is the artiste Jay Sean. You could write to the managing directors of his representative agency. Alternatively, you can write to the FIA (Federation of Indian Associations), the organizers of the festivities. It is imperative that we inundate the FIA with protest emails! Contact details are provided below:

Parade Grand Marshall Shilpa Shetty: shilpa@shilpashettylive.com
Billy & Rob (reps of Parade Special Guest Jay Sean): billy@2point9.com, rob@2point9.com
FIA President Dipak Patel telephone 973-464-4515, dipakpatel@fianynjct.org
FIA office: info@fianynjct.org, 732-369-6626
Other FIA Executive Committee members phone numbers and emails

West Coast FIA includes gay group; solidarity petition planned

Shambu “Sam” Rao wrote, as part of an email discussion on the South Asian Journalists Association listserve, on Friday, August 14, 2009:

Just to make the point,  Gay Indians and supporters are welcome and part of the largest Festival of India — West Coast — in Fremont, CA. The Festival is in its 17th year run by FIA NC [Federation of Indian Associations Northern California] and the non profit activist group Trikone has been a part of the Festival of India Fremont with a booth and even in the parade couple times. Members of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) another non profit also have taken part in the festivities. … Over the course of the many years of the festival, Indian senior citizens (straight) and housewives had spoken up at the FIA meetings to continue invite gays to the Festival whereas NY had even gone to court to bar participation.”

Trikone, the oldest South Asian gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender group in the United States, will have a booth in the India Day festival in Fremont, California, this weekend, August 15-16, 2009.  Members plan to gather signatures on a petition in support of SALGA. The Trikone Co-Chairs are available for comment: Rakesh Modi, rakesh@trikone.org, (510) 757-5726; or Priti Narayanan, priti@trikone.org.

Commentary: One giant leap backwards for Indian-kind

The following was circulated to journalists as an opinion piece / letter to the editor on August 12, 2009, written by Sapna Pandya, and may be reprinted in full with attribution to her:

On Thursday, July 2nd, I awoke to very exciting news from my native country of India. A decision was being made 10,000 miles away that would not only impact thousands upon thousands there, but also the community of Indians living in America. After over ten years of intense dedication and advocacy by lawyers, human rights advocates, public health professionals, civil society and many others, the Delhi High Court read down their decision to repeal Indian Penal Code Section 377. This antiquated law, left over from the British Raj, criminalized certain forms of sex that were defined as “against the order of nature,” among which consensual sex among two adults of the same sex was included. In other words, Section 377 made it illegal for gay Indians to have sex, but the Delhi High Court decided what many of us already knew was true: that such a law is unconstitutional and oppressive. This landmark decision, a true victory for human society as a whole and India in particular, was even beautifully linked to the ideals of equality and justice central to India’s freedom movement, as Justice Murlidharan quoted lines from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘Objective Resolution’ from December 13, 1946 in the official Delhi High Court ruling.

It is disturbingly ironic then, as the community gears up to celebrate India’s 62nd year of independence, that the Federation of Indians in America (FIA), host of the annual Indian Independence Day celebration in New York City, has decided to shut out the area’s Indian American gay community. The South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA), a volunteer organization that has served the community for over ten years, submitted an application to participate in this year’s Independence Day festivities, only to be completely ignored and rebuffed by FIA. Despite SALGA’s participation in the same event in the past (which also only came about due to intense advocacy efforts, and at which only limited freedom of expression was enjoyed), the exclusion of SALGA this year of all years represents a backward move on the part of Indian American community organizing: a shameful reminder that while India may be moving forward on human rights issues, our immigrant community here is regressing to the point of ignoring its own members.

With all the progress that India has enjoyed lately, we should not allow FIA’s regressive actions remain unnoticed. Bring banners to the Independence Day festivities showing support for the area’s South Asian gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and for the repeal of Section 377.  Let the FIA know how you feel about their discriminatory practices (contact information below). We must take a lesson from the Delhi High Court, and represent ALL Indians this Independence Day, marching with history and not against it.

Latest blog commentaries

Not Welcome at the India Day Parade, on SepiaMutiny.com
Gay Ho Denied, by Leena R. Kamat; a lawyer’s perspective
Desicritics post by Deepti Lamba
Vande Matram, by Roopa Singh
UltraBrown blog post

Background and links

For those interested in covering or learning more about the story, below are backgrounders on the long history of this controversy. Journalists, please email me if you would like names and cell phone numbers of individuals who are willing to be interviewed on this topic.

On current FIA leadership:

DesiTalk.com article (July 2009) discusses younger leadership coming to the helm of FIA, wanting to stand “for the entire community on political, social, whatever issues.”

On the 1990s debates over SALGA’s exclusion from the India Day Parade:

New York Times news stories

1996:  http://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/04/nyregion/gay-south-asians-sidelined-at-parades.html
1997:  http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/17/nyregion/groups-plan-protest-at-india-day-parade.html
2000: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/30/nyregion/neighborhood-report-flatiron-new-tolerance-at-an-old-tradition.html

Official New York governmental resolution

New York Community Board 5 is in charge of granting permits in Manhattan for parades and other street activities. Here is the New York Community Board 5 resolution of 2005 approving FIA application to hold the India Day Parade, noting that “The applicant has signed and agreed … that participation in the applicant’s events will not be denied to any group on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

Analyses

Article: Professor Svati P. Shah’s analysis about the controversy as it relates to South Asian American identity, as published in Samar magazine, 2001:
http://www.samarmagazine.org/archive/article.php?id=60

Book excerpt: brief chronology and narration of the movement built around SALGA’s exclusion from the India Day Parade, p176-178 of Becoming American, Becoming India: An Immigrant Community in New York City by Madhulika S. Khandelwal, an Urban Studies professor at Queens
College:
http://books.google.com/books?id=jZsZKj0FrBgC&pg=PA177&lpg=PA177&dq=salga+india+parade&source=bl&ots=XElVtWUQdP&sig=82Z8ABNr0gMpJwwiwYNYRHcmEUE&hl=en&ei=Y0yFSqWiFIKltgeH5YSvCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=salga%20india%20parade%20sakhi&f=false
[If this link does not work, go to http://books.google.com/ , search for “salga india parade” and click on the first link that comes up]

On the recent decriminalization of gay sex in India (July 2009):

The full text of the ruling can be seen at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/17027448/Delhi-Hight-Court-Naz

Selected news stories:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/world/asia/03india.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/02/AR2009070200509.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8129836.stm
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/india-decriminalizes-homosexual-sex/article1203903/