This message was originally posted on the Good as You mailing list by Vijay on behalf of his colleague. It is being reproduced on Orinam.net with consent of the author and individuals involved in the incident.
Nov 29, 2011, Bangalore:
I have been at my wit’s end grappling and struggling to come to terms with a rather unsavoury and a nasty incident that two of my gay friends A and B, my boyfriend and I have had to face and suffer – quite ironically – on the night of the LGBTIQ Pride in Bangalore.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the Pride and happened to drop into Empire restaurant for dinner after the party around 12 midnight. Little did we know as to what was waiting to ambush us there. As we ordered our dinner, I stepped out alone for a smoke. No sooner than I returned and settled down, I felt some particles falling on me. Much to my disbelief, I realised that sugar was being showered on me from behind. I looked at my boy friend and two other friends to see if it was their prank. It wasn’t! It was being thrown at us by two young seemingly straight and clearly homophobic men around 24-25 years of age. I was livid and screamed out “How annoying! B*stards are throwing sugar at us!” to which the two guys yelled in return to say “Talk to us if you have a problem”. All of us chose to ignore it hoping to end it there. In no time, one of them said something rather offensive in Kannada. I could sense that from their tone, facial expressions and body language. One doesn’t need to know the language to pick up the underlying tone. They charged up to us and bombarded us with a slew of impertinent, dehumanizing and vulgar questions like “Are you gay?”, “Do you like to suck c*cks?”, “Do you like a pole?”, “I know you like men and you like to sleep with them” … just to name a few.
My boyfriend tried to intervene to diffuse the situation by telling them “Its okay! We have nothing to do with you. We are just eating food!”. They went back but continued throwing sugar at us. One of my friends – friend A – got really upset and yelled out “What is your problem? Why are you doing this?”. To which, the two guys hurled a volley of expletives and invectives like “C*ck up! We know you are gay”, “You want to fight with us?”, “You guys are shame to us” etc. Their body language, facial expressions and tone were belligerent and the guys were itching to ignite a fist fight at any cost. They wanted to do/say everything they could to make us attack them first. My friend B retaliated aggressively saying “Try it. Dare you hit one of us!” and called out for the manager.
All that the inept manager did was to tell us to sit at our table and tell them to sit at theirs. On seeing the manager, the guys went back. We decided to leave as it was already very embarrassing and ugly. As we left, my boyfriend took a few seconds to drink water. One of the unruly guys – guy X – pulled the glass of water off my boy friend’s hand and yelled at him “Leave now!!”. We paid the bill and got out to buy paan.
They were waiting at the stairs to accost us again at the exit. We ignored them and went past them. At that juncture, one of the guys – guy Y – exclaimed at the manager “What kind of people do you entertain here!”. We got out and got into an auto rickshaw and wanted to just flee. We asked him to take us to “Xxxx colony”. To add to our discomfiture and embarrassment, the auto rickshaw driver screams out to confirm our locality loud enough for the guys to hear. This only added to my horror of being stalked till home and the recent Keenan and Rueben case was on our minds. Much to our terror, the two guys stood against the auto and would not allow it to leave. We had to scream and yell at the auto driver to leave. As we left, one of the guys – guy X – hit my friend B quite hard on his shoulder.
This was a dreadful and a scary experience that should not happen to anyone. It is over now. But as I reflect in retrospect, I need to know the following:
1. This incident was very fast and caught us largely unawares. With its sudden course and the lightening turn of explosive events that led from one to another, was there a more effective way of dealing with it then?
2. Why is it not safe yet for the LGBITQ community to just be themselves – and now more so in Bangalore?
3. What are our options now under the law?
4. How can we make Empire a better and a safe place for the LGBTIQ community and everyone else to hang out?
5. How do we sensitize the management of Empire [and other businesses like it] on dealing with a diversity of clientele?
Please share your suggestions below.