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Tamil Scholar Solomon Pappaiya’s Sexism and Homophobia

Solomon Pappaiya on Sun TVVideo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etQ4yViPuyc&feature=youtu.be&t=41m50s


Dear Dr. Solomon Pappaiya,

I would like to thank you for addressing homosexuals as ‘people of the same sex’ in your whiny statement, ‘Did you all see the parade by people of the same sex?’ (Tamil: “டில்லி மாநகரத்திலே ஒரு பாலர் ஊர்வலங்களைப் பார்த்தீர்களா?”) for you helped create awareness on the LGBT community. When I first heard you say those words,

  • a) I considered you a great revolutionary on the same lines as C.M. Annadurai who crystallized the famous slogan ‘We are one race and there is one Almighty’. I even imagined that you would go on to inspire the LGBT community to start a campaign, ‘We all belong to one sex. We all are one folk’.

 

  • b) I thought that the coming generations will praise you for having empathised with the voices asking to deliberately drop the idea of gender binary and upped the ante by bargaining for the idea of unisex (the popular notion being that there are only two sexes; male and female).

 

When you were almost getting christened as a hero in my heart, the words that followed made me cringe as you were making the same error as your previous one in Shivaji movie (where two dark skinned women named after Tamil Sangam literature characters Angavai, Sangavai are humiliated for their skin tone.)

Your speech highlights that you haven’t understood the nuances of terms such as sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Even if you might represent the view of the majority, it is that of an archaic, anti-minority clique. It is surprising that inspite of being a a Tamil scholar, you chose to address homosexuals as what would translate in English as ‘people of the same-sex’. To my knowledge, the only parade where people of the same-sex participate is the funeral procession of the deceased. Even if many consider the parade on 11th December as funeral procession for the dead Indian human rights, I see it as the funeral procession for homophobia and ignorance of sexual orientation diversity. The faithful minions that the two were to you, it is only natural that you could not digest their loss. We swear that we would perform memorial services every year to remind the world of their good riddance. We hope it offers ‘solace’ to you. I would also like to add that the sexual minorities whom you frowned upon are not just present in Delhi but in the nook and corner of Tamil Nadu, the state you belong to.

You went on to deplore western influences in our languages, dress sense, culture, etc. They are your personal opinions and I respect them even though I believe that there is greater good if people share their experiences in a globalised world. I would also like to remind that Tamil has survived and flourished all along notwithstanding the influences from the innumerable languages, dialects that exist within different regions of our country. You added homosexuality to the list of western imports and that it is popularised because of urbanization. It is sad to learn that you claim to have researched on Indian literature but have no introduction to the homosexual literature/ history of this country. I don’t have time to advise/ pardon the homophobes

It is glaring that you seem to be out of sync with present day incidents. To cite an example, with complete information on the damages caused by family system in the recent violence against dalits at Dharmapuri and in Tamil Nadu politics, you speak hysterically against love marriages and free-thought. You go one step further by threatening that love shared by two people could be detrimental to systems like family, marriage etc. You might get applauded for such statements but it only reminds me of a patriarchal effigy. It is disheartening to see efforts of Periyar and Bharathiyar towards creating a society free of gender biases going down the drain. Nevertheless, am confident that the rationalist, free-thinking, self-respect activists of Tamil Nadu would strive hard to prevent your speeches from damaging the progress of our society. Your venomous statement that daughters of well-educated parents ‘loaf around’ and that women should not seek divorce but instead keep the differences to themselves and continue to remain unhappily married are totally unacceptable and I strongly condemn them!
Your statements have hurt the sentiments of sexual minorities and women of Tamil Nadu. It would only be fair to not utter patriarchal statements like these anymore. As the 6 others who shared the dais with you failed to register their dissent, we consider them accomplices and that they share your homophobic, sexist opinions. You all can answer to the questions raised by your conscience for making such divisive, anti-minority statements. I will not listen to the speeches of all 7 of you until I see a ray of change/ maturity in your stands. Even if it is just my opinion, I believe that many in Tamil Nadu would agree with me.

Sincerely yours,
Minority that is disheartened to see that Bharathiyar’s ‘buffoon-like people’ are still around.

They scavenge every day for bread,
Making small talks on the way,
Soaking themselves in bitterness,
Only to see others feel hurt.
They grow senile eventually,
As criminals of spurious sins.
The buffoon-like people they are,
Did you (Shakthi) think I would stoop like them?
-Bharathiyar

“தேடிச் சோறுநிதந் தின்று – பல
சின்னஞ் சிறுகதைகள் பேசி – மனம்
வாடித் துன்பமிக உழன்று – பிறர்
வாடப் பலசெயல்கள் செய்து – நரை
கூடிக் கிழப்பருவ மெய்தி – கொடுங்
கூற்றுக் கிரையானபின் மாயும் – பல
வேடிக்கை மனிதரைப் போலே – நான்
வீழ்வே னென்று நினைத் தாயோ?”
– பாரதி

Thanks: Madhan (Editing, Tamil to English translation)

This post is also available in: தமிழ் (Tamil)

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  1. thanks to the author of the above letter.
    i am not a tamilian (people with a rich history).
    some tamilians are a pride to their people.
    some are great people in india.
    few are top shots in the world!
    however, many tamilians of today are a disgrace to humanity…just watch how they vote! how they tear their hair and vandalise property over some dead actor/politician!
    tamilians are known for their high academic achievements, but when it comes to prejudices, they are also at the forefront. it seems that for all the education tamilians acquire, it does not translate into becoming better human beings. dr solomon pappaiya is just one example. maybe if he called himself solomon paw-paw, it would be more appropriate!

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