Disco Jalebi: An Ethnographic Exploration of Gay Bombay

Parmesh Shahani

Parmesh Shahani

Gay Bombay is an online-offline community (comprising a website, a newsgroup and physical events in Bombay city), that was formed as a result of the intersection of certain historical conjectures with the disjunctures caused via the flows of the radically shifting ethnoscape, financescape, politiscape, mediascape, technoscape and ideoscape of urban India in the 1990s. Within this thesis, using a combination of multi-sited ethnography, textual analysis, historical documentation analysis and memoir writing, I attempt to provide various macro and micro perspectives on what it means to be a gay man located in Gay Bombay at a particular point of time. Specifically, I explore what being gay means to the members of Gay Bombay and how they negotiate locality and globalization, their sense of identity as well as a feeling of community within its online/offline world. On a broader level, I critically examine the formulation and reconfiguration of contemporary Indian gayness in the light of its emergent cultural, media and political alliances. I realize that Gay Bombay is a community that is imagined and fluid; identity here is both fixed and negotiated, and to be gay in Gay Bombay signifies being ‘glocal’ – it is not just gayness but Indianized gayness. I further realize that within the various struggles in and around Gay Bombay, what is being negotiated is the very stability of the idea of Indianness. I conclude with a modus vivendi – my draft manifesto for the larger queer movement that I believe Gay Bombay is an integral part of, and a sincere hope that as the struggle for queer rights enters its exciting new phase, groups like Gay Bombay might be able to cooperate with other queer groups in the country, and march on the path to progress, together.

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Parmesh Shahani

About Parmesh Shahani

Parmesh Shahani is the head of the Godrej India Culture Lab, an experimental ideas space in Mumbai. His book Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (Sage Publications, 2008) emerged directly out of his CMS Master’s thesis. Parmesh is a Yale World Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a TED Fellow and an academy member for the Global Teacher Prize. He also serves as Editor at Large for Verve magazine in India. Twitter: @parmeshs Instagram: @parmeshshahani Thesis: Disco Jalebi: An Ethnographic Exploration of Gay Bombay

 
 

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