Naming and shaming

29 01 2011

Are we instigating murder?

You may recall, the Sri Lankan media, under the directive of the Police Crimes Division, published photos of men and women who they claimed appeared in porn movies.  Subsequently, these people’s lives have been completely ruined. Some have been expelled from their homes and can never show their faces in society again.

In Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist was murdered in his own home, following a newspaper article that published pictures of several Ugandan homosexuals. The headline that appeared in October 2010, read “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos” and showed photographs of some of them. David Kato was among them. By the end of January 2011 he was murdered.

In the months in between, David had sued the Rolling Stone newspaper that carried his photograph for defamation. In the meantime The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity. However, it seemed like no one really paid any attention to Kato’s action of suing, nor to the Supreme Court directive.

This is a lesson for all of us and a lesson for Sri Lanka too. By trying to name and shame people  who are different, either because they sell sex, appear in porn movies or have sex with people of the same sex, we create stigma and discrimination against them and also instigate violence.  In some cases, even death.

Do we want to sleep with blood on our hands?

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I came out for this?

25 01 2011

Am still laughing, having just finished reading I came out for this by Lisa Gitlin. The book is about this older woman –who comes out as a lesbian at 47. She is madly in love with someone called Terri. But Terri is too busy delighting in temporary multiple relationships, and having been ‘through” the author,  has fast moved on. The book  traces the author’s ups and downs as she moves cities to be close to the one she loves and obsesses about. And all this, while not realizing that true love is right under her nose in the form of someone else. In many ways, it’s a coming out story where someone 47 feels like she is an adolescent and just can’t see the obvious.
The book is written as a diary, (where she writes awkward, embarrassing mishaps that are never meant for others to read) spread over the period of one year. It is easy to read, fast paced and full of humor. It left me with a feeling of “I’ve been there, I’ve done that”.
However the one failing of the book was, in my opinion, the lack of exploration of the other characters. I wish the author had delved into the characters a little bit more, to give the reader a better understanding of how she met the one she loves so much and the nature of their relationship before it became this one-sided obsession. I was also curious to better understand what her mother thought of her! But the book is written in the first person, so you don’t get to know anyone very well except the author!
Nevertheless, a fun light read for any lesbian starved of good lesbian fiction.




India’s ‘devadasi’ girls

23 01 2011

Why India’s ‘devadasi’ girls face a wretched life in the name of religion

Stretching back for centuries, the original devadasi were trained in prayer, dance and music. Holy enough to bring blessings and banish the “evil eye”, they were often courtesans but with a freedom of control over their lives that was not permitted to ordinary Indian women. It was British colonialists, with their Victorian morality, who first outlawed the practice. The Indian government followed suit in the 1980s…





Porn you said?

15 01 2011

I went to my first porn book launch last night. Before I left for the event, I told two friends, who were not so fortunate as moi, how I was going to the FIRST PORN book launch. They were awe-struck of course – “in Sri Lanka?”

I should say ‘adult stories’ but porn is so much nicer a word, don’t you think? The word has such a seedy, sordid, lascivious feel to it. Wanton, depraved, libertine connotations. Red drapes and billowing lace curtains all around, I thought. Black and red silk somewhere around. Erotic images surrounding me. Darkened audience and mood lighting on the stage.

Instead I walk in on a launch that could have been of any other book in English published in Colombo. Groups of people walking sedately around greeting friends. No billowing drapes of any colour. Yellow lights glaring on audience and readers alike. Some small photos on the far wall. And Blue wrapped in newspaper.

I suppose the entire burst of creativity was taken up with the publication of adult stories. It is the first after all. One hopes the stories don’t emulate the mood of the launch.





Feeling Queerly this New Year?

2 01 2011

Never do I feel more resentful about heterosexual privileges than on Significant Days. Birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Aluth Avurudu are all designed to make me feel conflicted and low. It is family time and I love spending time with my family. But what enrages me is how difficult this time would be if I want to spend it with a partner – of the same-sex.

All around me, straight cousins and friends spend Significant Days with their spouses or with family, or both. If they don’t turn up at the family event on this Day, they are not asked why. If they do turn up, they are not expected to leave their spouses behind. If you are a straight married female, or even engaged, these are Days when you say ‘I am spending it with him’ and Society smiles fondly.

For those of us in this country who love women, such a scenario is a luxury. Unless you don’t have much to do with your family anymore (all too common in our community) or your family has accepted you just the way you are (I am happy for you. Really.) the day seems far away when we can choose to spend a birthday or Christmas with the woman we love without having to find excuses or feel guilty.

Happy New Year everyone, and here’s hoping you can spend the next New Year queerly!