When you’re OUT, you’re IN

Since Gay is in, currently, for the Indian media, Sonali Gulati, film-maker, out lesbian and gay rights activist, knows what it is to be hotly pursued for sound-bites. She has posted on youtube a recorded conversation with a reporter from IBN 7 pressing her for her take on a “lesbian” issue. Her quiet , insistent questioning reduces him to confused gibberish, but more importantly, makes the point that “lesbians” are no more and no less newsworthy than straight people – At one point she asks him, “Agar yeh ek heterosexual couple ke saath ho jaata, tab aap kis se comment lete?”

(If this had happened with a heterosexual couple, then to whom would you have gone for comments?)

Meaning of course, that any and every heterosexual would not be considered “expert” enough to comment on any and every heterosexual issue. The bemused reporter starts all over again with his insane drivel – he simply does not get it. Can she really be giving up an opportunity to appear on television? Naaah.

But go on – listen to Sonali.

6 thoughts on “When you’re OUT, you’re IN”

  1. With respect, I didn’t find the journalist’s statements to be insane drivel.

    He’s obviously clueless or careless about how to phrase the situation sensitively – “lesbian story,” “husband girl,” etc. And Sonali’s point, about her own lack of locus as a commentator, is important.

    But to be honest I’m fascinated by his question: when one partner in a lesbian couple is driven to suicide, allegedly because of spousal violence, does the other partner get to keep the child? (It isn’t clear to me what the answer would be for a heterosexual couple either; it would probably stand at the discretion of some magistrate who is at least as artless as the reporter’s).

    I shudder to think what treatment IBN7 might have given to the question — they’d probably use outtakes from “Girlfriend” — but with its uncommon dimensions of sexuality, region (Ahmedabad) and class, it sounds like a very compelling question. No?

  2. RK, I concede there must be a more exact term to describe the confident brashness of people who despite being “clueless or careless about how to address a situation sensitively”, barge right on anyway. Till that term is made clear to me, I’m going to stick with “insane drivel” :)
    I think the point Sonali was making was precisely that this is a question of a partnership gone bad, of a tragic situation in which a child is hostage, and that neither of these conditions are exactly unknown to heterosexual marriage. The questions you raise about the guardianship of this child lead to wider questions about the guardianship of children in broken marriages generally, which is exactly what Sonali was pointing towards.
    As for this case, we know nothing at all about the couple except that they were lesbians, and that one of them committed suicide. Would you expect to make an informed decision on guardianship of a surviving child based on the facts that a couple was heterosexual and that one of them committed suicide?
    Guardianship is notoriously denied to women except when the child is very small – on the grounds that she is not economically independent, on the grounds that she is employed and therefore cannot look after the child (talk of a cleft stick!), on the grounds that the child belongs rightfully to the paternal grandparents. By all means let us have a discussion on guardianship.
    But do note that no-one especially not Sonali, is claiming that the surviving partner should get custody, just that the discussion should take a different turn and shape.

  3. I’m amazed at the grace and courtesy she handled it. She didn’t seem to get angry – though she must have been offended by his behaviour!

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