“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” (Audre Lorde)
Our identities aren’t singular, they are hyphenated and layered. We refuse to be placed under the burden of one single identity. Experiences of marginalisation as well as resistance are far more complex and diverse than we think.
It is unfortunate to see so many people ‘celebrating’ revocation of Article 370. Many LGBTQ+ individuals and groups have gone ahead and issued statements of praise for the act. Such a position appropriates the voices of queer and transgender people from Kashmir while creating a smokescreen of rainbow solidarity. The celebration is ripe with false national pride, misplaced sense of justice, and lack of empathy for those who are suffering. It is irrational to assume that any one aspect of Human Rights is more important than others.
We know and understand that sexual and gender rights are important. All of us have been part of that struggle and continue to work towards an inclusive society. However, this context is being used as a reason to celebrate the current situation in Kashmir. We need to ask ourselves – can we accept and celebrate the gross violation of basic rights, which in this case, includes Right to freedom of expression, freedom to protest and the freedom to be heard?
Effectively, the stand of celebration by a section of the queer community on the pretext that the LGBTQ+ community from Kashmir will enjoy greater freedom for their sexual and gender expression now, pinkwashes the ever going struggle of Kashmiri people against grave injustice, violence and oppression – a struggle that has impacted generations after generations of Kashmir. A struggle that we can’t even fathom. It is inhumane to assume that one group will have access to human rights while the larger community is silenced.
Many of us might not share the same experiences as our LGBTQ+ friends in/from Kashmir. We express our deepest solidarity and love towards those resisting, struggling, those who cannot contact their families and friends, those who are unsure about what the future holds and those who have been denied the right to express their opinion. Resistance and struggle against all forms of oppression and marginalisation is important.
Our contention is to not mistake one right bigger than the other. We, as queer, transgender and nonbinary individuals from a religious minority in India, know what it feels to be unheard and pushed to the extremes of marginalisation. We are afraid that the current situation is just a preface to further violations of rights. The same process can be used by those in power to curb any rights of anyone in the future. But, we are hopeful.
We have a firm belief in the values of the Indian Constitution and we sincerely hope that there are people out there who believe in the values of equality and freedom. We will all create solidarities, we will all rise in hope and urge every one to hold on to the spirit of empathy and not accept, much worse, celebrate the injustices around us.
‘ye daaġh daaġh ujālā ye shab-gazīda sahar
vo intizār thā jis kā ye vo sahar to nahīñ’
‘This stained tainted light, this night bitten dawn,
This is not the morning we were waiting for.’
(‘Subh-e-Azadi’ by Faiz Ahmad Faiz)