A couple of years ago, I received a call from my friend, Suzette, late at night. She was screaming on the phone, so much that I had to keep the receiver away. She had been denied entry into a restaurant called Ginger in Kolkata. The reason – because she was the ‘park street rape victim’. She was told on her face that she couldn't enter because she is the 'Park Street Rape Victim'. The eatery owner had the audacity to say that she had visited the place with other men before and had created a ruckus — further maligning her character. Suzette told me that she felt raped again.
If you're going to say that she should have been okay with it and should have gone to to more accepting places, spare me the thought. That’s not how equality works in this country. Every citizen has the right of dignity.
In January this year, a good samaritan in Pune decided to take a kid from the streets to McDonalds. The kid was not allowed. The kid was thrown out and was not allowed to buy his fanta. Because, may be, poor children spoil the look of McDonalds? Or what else could be the reason? And why should this be tolerated?
Even if you were not from Mc Donalds you would have felt really angry. You would have shared this Firstpost article on Facebook. But how do you treat your house help? How do you treat your lowest-ranking staff in your office? Do you mind him or her or her eating with you? How do you treat your house help? Wouldn’t it be a good practice to look into your own prejudices before you give us your sermons on Facebook?
Recently when I was at The Bar Stock Exchange at Lower Parel in Mumbai with a male friend, I was told at the entrance that only “couples could enter,” I quickly responded saying “we are a couple”. The staff first giggled and then said that couple meant “men and women”…all these episodes came to my head. A similar incident had happened in Shiro — a pub in Worli, Mumbai where a gay person was denied an opportunity to ring in the new year with his loved one from his own gender. Soon, DNA carried a story and suddenly everyone was speaking about it.
Shiro offered a response after being tagged by many:
We extend our sincere apology on behalf of our management for the miscommunication that has gone up in the media. We strongly disagree with the accusation and we do not discriminate between people on the basis of race, ability or sexual orientation.
As a matter of precautionary measure of our female guests on the occasion of New Year and to avoid any misbehavior or unwanted issues at the restaurant where men posing a couple to gain entry, the management decided that a man can be accompanied with a couple(s) or two men can enter with a lady .
We strive to provide the best possible experience to our guests and will continue to do so.
After the public outrage, when my friend Sushant Divgikar visited Shiro last night, he was told by the management that they will now be welcoming of gay couples. Kudos to Shiro for taking this step.
We should be careful; such behaviour percolates from the management. The people, at the counter, at the door, the waiters, have been told that the meaning of couple is “man and woman” and they in-turn must be feeling that as long as there is regular influx of women, the place will be safe. We all know, how women are used as a trophy to make venues, not more accessible, but also lot more ‘attractive’. If you get the drift? Also, with so much prejudice, I haven’t seen any straight man fake his sexuality as gay, put his arms around his male friend romantically to just gain entry to a bar. If we lived in a world where this was happening, maybe, we would be in a more liberal world.
My friend Bhuvan Narang from The Little Door says “We have a ‘come as you are’ policy. We don’t care about people’s sexuality or gender. If you are drunk and behave nasty, we will kindly see you off the little door. If you are nice, we will be nice. And we will not brand all women or all men or all trans people who come to our place because of one episode or one person. That’s not how businesses work. And more importantly, that’s not how humanity works’.
Nothing will change if we don’t go to Shiro’s in Worli or the Bar Stock Exchange in Mumbai. The 'Guysexual' of Firstpost will still be doling out his homo gyaan. The earth will still revolve around the sun. And these little cosmic particles of homophobia will and we still will be kicking some real mean ass. That’s us. What to do. We are like that only. We don’t take insults lying down. We will not bear any cruelty against our people. Poor, rich, Dalit, Muslim, Brahmin, gay, lesbian, woman, man, trans irrespective.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2016 17:07:47 IST