introduction
‘‘Where do we go now?’’ Gautam wondered aloud. His expression was of
optimism and loss, touching on both but settling on neither. We were all
sitting, the dozens of us, on the floor of a gallery and performance space on
the second floor of a building in New Delhi’s Connaught Place. It was a
familiar and comfortable scene, even if some of the faces were new. A
group of college-aged gay boys, in their neatly pressed kurtas and colorful
scarves, sat a√ectionately, with heads in each other’s laps and holding
hands. A young dyke stood in the back, leaning coolly against the door-
frame amid all our discarded sandals, lowering her eyes with a shy smile
when someone made flirtatious reference to her good looks.
A collective called Nigah had been holding a bilingual, biweekly Queer
Café here since 2009. On this particular night at the Café in the summer of
2011, Nigah was commemorating the anniversary of India’s first known
gay protest, held on August 11, 1992. Protesting against police harassment
of gay men, activists had assembled outside Delhi’s police headquarters.
Some of those activists spoke at Nigah’s commemoration event. They re-
called excitement, outrage, and euphoria—not knowing exactly what would
follow, or even how this moment had happened, but knowing that the
world was becoming something di√erent. Someone pointed out that only a
few storefronts away from us there had been another extraordinary event,
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