Ambiguous Sexualities and Pink Migrations: In the Realm of the Politics of Sexualities, Regimentation and Control among Gorkhas in North-Eastern India
Military sensibilities inherited from the Colonial to the post-colonial state in India have vociferously engaged with regimentation and control. ‘Queerness’ has been made invisible by Masculinities. Whereby patriarchally driven images of the ‘self’, are injected in the ideas of ‘sacred and profane’ of the communities cosmology. In the context of the Militarized Masculinities of Gorkha, one repeatedly hears of a ‘Bir Gorkha’, a ‘Gorkha Cheli Beti’, but never a Queer Gorkha. Contextualised to the ‘Gorkha’, Queerness or ambivalence in sexualities is an oxymoron. The paper attempts to untangle the knotty braids of a Militarized Masculine Gorkha identity and problematise Masculinities and Queerness. It aims to unravel the circumvents, constrictions and contortions of sexual ambiguity among the Gorkha. Post decriminalising Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code by the Supreme Court of India. An Armyman’s sexual orientation would not be a hindrance, nor would it mean a guaranteed free pass to indulge in gay sex in the Army. The paper attempts to weave the ethno-narratives of military services and other services among the sexually ambivalent native Nepali speaking/Gorkha men in/from India’s Northeast. The Gorkha have multiple challenges to negotiate within the Northeast and outside the region. From being fetishised as exotic to erotic to ‘chinky’, the body becomes a site of a political struggle, reclamation and resistance. The sexually ambivalent Gorkha as someone living at intersections of subjectivities experiences constant anxieties about defining, defending, and negotiating their sexuality and belonging. ‘Leaving ‘Home’ in search of a newer ‘Home’ becomes the indelible feature of the sexually ambivalent. ‘Pink Migration’ within India to the metropolitan centers provides interesting insights into the trend of ‘leaving ‘Home’ searching for a newer ‘Home’. These cities become a gateway to survival, anonymity and a collective narrative of discrimination. The queer Gorkha negotiates its space through livelihood opportunities- a Pink economy/Pink market for any acquired skills and a chance to express choices and desire under the garb of anonymity freely. The urban spaces provide solidarity of a visible queer movement and avenues for community building and networking. In short, the sexually ambivalent are in the constant quest to seek spaces that provide an escape from one’s kin and region.
Keywords: Military sensibilities, Ambiguous Sexualities, Pink Migration, Queerness, Masculinities, Gorkhas, Northeast India