LGBT Politics in South Asia: Ground Rules, Underground Movements

  • Citation: Munhazim, Ahmad Qais. “LGBT Politics in South Asia: Ground Rules, Underground Movements.” Chapter. In The Oxford Handbook of Global LGBT and Sexual Diversity Politics, edited by Michael J. Bosia and Sandra M. McEvoy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
    • Topics:
    • Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • LGBT politics
    • LGBT movement
    • underground movement
    • South Asia
    • hijra
    • public space performance
    • homoempire
    • coming out

LGBT politics in South Asia is rooted in both the history of colonialism and what the author of this chapter calls the “underground movement” of the LGBT South Asian communities themselves. Offering a critique of coming out, the chapter argues that South Asian states carry the burden of colonial violence to this day. Therefore, embracing Western coming out culture for these states is antithetical to the process of decolonization. This chapter moves from a state-centric understanding of LGBT politics to an everyday people–focused conceptualization and practices of LGBT politics and movements that cross geographical, cultural, religious, and political boundaries in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Employing a feminist autoethnographic approach, the chapter argues that public space performances of hijras on the streets, trains, buses, and homes in South Asia are the most authentic, indigenous, decolonial, and antipatriarchal drives in creating space for LGBT communities in the region. This movement troubles gendered and heteronormative public spaces while also claiming the rich history and diversity of gender and sexuality in South Asia.

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