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.
About Parmesh Shahani
Parmesh Shahani is an author and DEI consultant. In the recent past he was the founder of the Godrej India Culture Lab which ran for a decade between 2011 and 2021 and changed the cultural landscape of Mumbai, India. Parmesh is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India and has guided many of the country’s leading companies on their inclusion journeys. His first book Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (Sage Publications) was released in 2008 and re-released in June 2020 as an updated edition and his second book Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace (Westland Business) was released in August 2020. Parmesh holds an MS in Comparative Media Studies from MIT (2005). He is a TED Senior Fellow, a Yale World Fellow, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is a member of the FICCI taskforce on diversity and inclusion and a board member of KHOJ International Artists’ Association.
Thesis: Disco Jalebi: An Ethnographic Exploration of Gay Bombay