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We can’t grow without involving everyone, says Gautam Gambhir at Hijra Habba

The annual event Hijra Habba — a gathering of queer community and its supporters — was celebrated with much fanfare, this year, with ace cricketer Gautam Gambhir sending out a message of inclusivity.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2018 11:42 IST
Ruchika Garg
Ruchika Garg
Hindustan Times
Gautam Gambhir,Saket,Select Citywalk
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir wears a bindi and dupatta as transgenders honour him at the seventh Hijra Habba in Delhi. (Arun Sharma/PTI )

Hijra Habba is an annual gathering of the LGBTQI+ community and supporters with an aim to celebrate the being as well as talk about issues that plague them. The energy, the spirit and the positivity at this colourful event is quite high. This year it was even more so as one of the transgenders said “section 377 ko utha ke kachre ke dibbe mei phenk diya gaya hai”; the Supreme Court has recently decriminalised sexual intercourse between consenting adults in private irrespective of the sexual orientation — something that according to section 377 of IPC was criminal. The theme was Born This Way.

Laxmi Narayan Tripathi — transgender rights activist, Hindi film actor and Bharatanatyam dancer — enjoys the event. (PHOTO: Sarang Gupta/Hindustan Times)

However, what boosted the morale of the community was ace cricketer Gautam Gambhir’s presence here, as the chief guest of the event. “Mere bhayyia ji ayein hain... (my brother is here) I am very happy,” said Simran, a transgender woman. Gambhir was not the symbolic kind of chief guest – who comes, cuts the ribbon, makes a speech and leaves. The cricketer was here to extend support, interact with the community to understand the issues, engage with them, and urged everyone to be inclusive in thoughts, words and action.

“I am really happy that section 377 has been scrapped and I want to congratulate everyone for this judgement. I am supporting them (the community) and the cause of this event, which is to accept the community as they are. One thing I can assure that we can’t grow and move forward without involving anyone. They are as Indians as we are and should be treated with dignity and respect,” said Gambhir to cheers and claps.

Drag queen Rani Kohinoor Sushant Divgikar, who is also Mr Gay 2014, presented a musical performance. (PHOTO: Sarang Gupta/Hindustan Times)

One to practice what he preaches, Gambhir had, on Rakshabandhan, Tweeted pictures with transgenders Abhina Aher and Simran Shaikh who had tied rakhi to him. He had also written: “It’s not about being a man or a woman. It’s about being a HUMAN.” At the event, there was also an exhibition where people were introduced to the trans culture, their deity and how gender specific symbols such as bindi and moustache can affect one’s behaviour. Here, like a great sport, Gambhir also participated by wearing a bindi and a dupatta.

“Guutam Gambhir is a big name and people follow him. We put a bindi on his forehead and covered his head with a dupatta. It was a part of our game to make people feel inclusive, he did that for us and we are thankful to him for this,. When people of his stature support us it s bound to send a message of inclusivity among his numerous fans,” said dancer Sneha Sharma, who wants to emphasise her trans status.

Transgenders strike a pose at Hijra Habba which was themed on Born This Way. (PHOTO: Sarang Gupta/Hindustan Times)

There was also a lot of merrymaking, dance and frolic. a flash mob dance, dance by a queer troupe and a song performance by drag queen and Mr Gay 2014 Rani Kohinoor who sand in both male and female voice. A lot of advocates, healthcare activists and known names such as Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, who pointed out that “We are the only sexual minority that is visible to the naked eye”. Sonal Mehta of India HIV/AIDS Alliance, said, “After 377, the real challenge now is in altering attitudes and behaviours of people and working three-fold. We need to increase solidarity within and empower, sensitize and engage with policy makers.”And Gauri Sawant spoke about giving back to society. Simran reminded everyone, “Iss function mein taaliyon ki kami nahi honi chahiye,” and the gathering obliged.

The event took place at Select CITYWALK, Saket. Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO, Select Citywalk says, “We believe in equality, well-being and empowerment of all communities. The LGBTQI+ community has been reborn after the Supreme Court’s recent historical judgement on decriminalisation of Section 377.”

Interact with the author at Twitter/@ruchikagarg271

First Published: Sep 14, 2018 11:38 IST