Class and queerness: Globally Indian in Hyderabad and Bangalore

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We're traveling through South India. We took the train to Hyderabad, where we spent a day with family. The next night, we took the train to Bangalore, where we ended up heading to opening night at the Bangalore Queer Film Fest. In both places, we were deeply conscious of being part of that new breed of Global Indian.

B's cousin works for a US financial institution and flies to the US a lot. His wife works for a global consulting firm. They're in their 30s, don't have kids yet, love to travel. They're both learning musical instruments later in life, and are passionate about it. In short, they're Just Like Us.

We talked about work, travel, family. We could have been sitting in the US, or in India; it didn't matter. We could share travel stories, discuss work, talk about our passions, without shame about class or privilege, without needing to hide or modulate the true stories of our lives. B's cousins could have chosen to live in the US, but they didn't; they had everything they needed at home, living lives much like those of our Silicon Valley Indian-American friends. For the first time, I really understood what Indian nationalists meant by the term "Global Indian"--that odd category blurring the lines between upwardly mobile Indians, and the upwardly mobile diaspora.

We got to Bangalore the next morning, and immediately started trying to hunt down details about the Bangalore Queer Film Fest, which one SF friend had attended the year before, and another was plugging via Facebook. We called up our friend Jasmeen, and made our way to Bangalore's Alliance Francaise to watch the opening movie, the Indian premiere of Tom Ford's The Single Man, set in 1960s California.

It felt like home. We met up with friends old and new: artists, journalists, activists, feminists, lawyers, and LGBT activists galore. Most of the next day was spent at the festival. We watched a panel on the unraveling of Section 377, and watched films depicting transgender Desi breakdowns, lesbian Canadians, and gay Cairenes. We were delighted to see Praveen, who we'd last met at our going-away party in far-away Berkeley, and who had just moved to Bangalore. San Francisco kept coming up over and over in the movies; in one scene, a character moves to SF and is shown walking the same streets, chanting the same anti-war chants, as we had back home. We could have been sitting at a film festival at home, Frameline or 3rd I.

I'm not sure that this is what Indian nationalists means when they refer to the Global Indian, but it's here that I'm most proud to claim the title, at a festival full of Indians, expats, and NRIs (with supportive global networks sending good wishes), united not by class privilege, but by love and solidarities, Stonewall and Khujaraho, camp and complex marriages, Trikone and truth-telling.

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