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Sappho for Equality

Sappho for Equality is a forum – the first of its kind in Eastern India – that has emerged as a consequence of a unique effort to bridge the ever-widening gulf between the queer and the non-queer community in India. Taking wing in October 2003, Sappho for Equality aspires to become the collective voice of all cross-sections of society who feel the imperative to challenge the hegemonic heteronormative order that rules our present.

Sappho for Equality is also the name of a journey that reflects a shift from services to activism … a shift from identity politics to issue-based activism. The motivating force behind this journey has been the need to build a coalition with the non-queer society through their direct involvement in a movement that seeks to question the assumptions of ‘mainstream’ sexual practices and norms. But just building bridges is not enough. Sappho for Equality is not satisfied with the conditions of a happy inclusion that nevertheless keeps you confined in its ghetto. A jump from the closet to the ghetto is not for us a desirable goal! Moreover, we believe that a simple broadening of the ambit of the ‘natural’ by a pluralist incorporation of multiple identities does not serve to destabilize the secure, a-historical, near-naturalized workings of the dominant order. It only justifies and reiterates the existence of the hegemonic order. In this case it serves to re-inscribe heterosexuality as the more common (dominant, normative) majoritarian way of life and love.

Therefore, moving beyond identity based politics to a politics of standpoint, Sappho for Equality provides a platform to anyone and everyone, irrespective of gender and sexual orientation, who seek to question the organized workings of homophobia, heterosexism and heteronormativity. A focus on the terms of exclusion through a politics of standpoint can contribute to a radical rethinking of the hegemonic social and engender a re-signification of the categories through which the world is made visible to us.

It is the conviction of Sappho for Equality that starting thought from the (many different) lives of lesbians helps throw light on things that might otherwise have been invisible, not just about those lives but also about heterosexual women’s lives, and, men’s lives – gay as well as straight. Thus a politics of standpoint strives to make a case for a non-normative, non-heterosexual future of desire, a future that remains moored on the one hand to a lesbian standpoint and on the other to a feminist standpoint, to a radical politics in the arena of both gender and sexuality. It is also imperative that a politics of standpoint would endeavor to question heterosexism and homophobia in a bid to unravel their points of alliance with other systems of oppression.

We are committed to ..

  • Providing safe spaces for Lesbians, Bisexual women and female-to-male Transgenders (Transmen) through Sappho.
  • Running the Sexuality Resource Centre – ‘Chetana’.
  • Running a helpline for LBT community and their families.
  • Providing psychiatric and legal counseling services.
  • Organizing advocacy and mass awareness programmes like public meets, LGBT film festivals, rainbow carnivals, queer conferences, seminars, debates, poster and photograph exhibitions etc. and empowerment programmes like sensitisation and self-empowerment workshops.
  • Doing feminist action research.
  • Publishing anthologies, magazines, books, research papers and reports on sexuality.
  • Interacting with students populations and researchers.
  • Associating with the larger feminist movements.
  • Networking & referral networking with other women’s organizations, non-queer organizations, Human Right’s organizations and LGBT organizations in India and abroad.
  • Raising voice against IPC 377.
  • Facilitating a crisis intervention.