Editor’s Note: This is a personal account from MP list member Srivath.
It took every ounce of my energy and will to write this mail without being overtly emotional though the entire experience was an eruption of emotions.
Never in million years would anyone of us have thought that our regular weekend pub hopping would end up in such disheartening and humiliating experience. Being able to glide through in and out of the lounges and bars for many years we never would have imagined that something like this will happen to us. Assuming being well educated and being in the cream layers of the society will make things easier for queer men was shattered.
What can be merrier and joyous than being with bunch of gay men who could just see everything on a lighter note???
That was the state of mind we were in when we started out on 23rd October Sunday evening. As we were getting ready we got a call from couple of our friends who were already in a bar (The Zodiac bar at The Accord Metropolitan) to come and join them. Since this is one of the bar we have frequented we went inside and after the usual greetings and hugs couple of us placed the orders and others started looking through the menu.
One of us was carrying a man bag and the waiter sort of whispered to the bartender pointing him. When our friend asked the bartender about our order he didn’t answer. The manager I presume told him that there is no service for our group and we are not allowed and asked him to leave the bar.
Since he couldn’t talk Tamil and the manager couldn’t respond well in English, we, who were busy going through menu sensed something was wrong as our friend started looking perplexed.
The entire scene unfolded in the lounge outside the bar when we asked why there is no service. One of the service guys said they allow only men and women. We were shocked by this response. It was a blow to our pride and we were completely taken aback.
Incredulous as it sounded one of us asked him again what he is trying to say, he said that “men and women only sir, gays lam allowed illa”. We shot back that there is no such rules listed in entrance and we have every right to be there and they are unreasonable denying service. Then came another guy who started talking in Tamil said “ungala ulla vidradellam asingam. Kelambu kelambu” (it’s a shame for us to let u inside. Move move).
We were addressing him with respect till then and he started addressing us in a disrespectful way, tone and body language.
The argument got heated and we asked them if they have any rules against letting gay men in the bar and if so they should put that in sign board and or give it to us in writing stating so. When we were inquiring on the regulations this guy became abusive and told “naalu aalungala kooptu thorathunga ivangala” (Bring four guys and chase them away).
We were so shocked and stunned by the way the management was handling and we demanded we spoke to their higher authority stating that’s they aren’t managing the issue well. He said that “adhellam mudiyaadu. Ungalukku yellarayum kooduvaangala”. (We can’t call authorities and all).
Though I had every intention of making a protest in the lounge we realized that we could do nothing about it and decided to leave the place before things got uglier.
The entire experience was so humiliating, though we all stood up against the discrimination, it dint fail to leave a deep rooted scar. I couldn’t imagine how worse the same would have been if we weren’t a bunch. When I look back at this entire scenario, I realized how feeble legal and social support is towards the queers.
Though we couldn’t do much on the issue, sharing it in this space might make us realize that we don’t have to put up with everything. At the least we could voice our protest.