So You Think You Know the Closet?
6/9/18 is Independence Day. The highest legal institution in the country ruled in favour of the LGBTQ+ community, beginning the process of decriminalising queer people. I say beginning because this is just the first step, and there is so much more to do. From accepting, and being accepted, to actually affecting a shift in the moral fabric, the life of a queer person as an independent and valued citizen has only just begun. This installation is meant to show a slice of what being in the closet, facing State supported censorship and violence-as an individual as well as part of a community-was (and continues to be) like.
The closet and censorship are closely tied in the experience of the queer person. Section 3 77 implied that sexual encounters, where procreation was not the end goal, were immoral and unnatural. The State has played a major role in denying rights to queer identified people in multiple ways, as has social morality. Section 3 77 was a direct violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, therefore, ensuring that the community remains in the closet, invisible.
Gender and sexuality minorities have
had a hard journey both in colonial and post-independence times. Specifically
in India, in 2013, when the Supreme Court overturned the Naz Foundation Judgement (Delhi High Court, 2009) that decriminalised homosexuality, one of the main arguments was that there was not enough documentation of discrimination and alleged rights violations. Added to this, the court did not recognise that there was an LGBTQ+ community, but just a ‘miniscule minority’. This invisibility is the key reason to use archival materials in this installation. Sorting through over three decades of documentation, this piece showcases a glimpse of the large hand the State and society has had in dehumanising queer people. It is a site of discomfort, but also accomplishment that today a larger number of queer identified individuals can march at the Queer Pride.
The closet has become a necessary means of survival. The microaggressions and violence faced by anyone who defies the norm are extremely damaging. Those who do not conform to hetero-patriarchal roles and stereotypes, are subjected to systematic tools of oppression-through corrective rape, lack of access to healthcare or a supportive environment, losing livelihoods, becoming subjects of sensationalisation and demonisation in the media.
These are the stories from a community that has been invisiblised. The purpose of this installation is to start telling these stories …