No to white gay men cavorting at Bollywood-themed party

2016-11-01 20:09
The MCQP theme image (Facebook)

The MCQP theme image (Facebook)

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Cape Town - Allowing scantily-clad, drunk, white gay men to frolic at a Bollywood-themed party would show disrespect to Indian people and their culture, according to a complaint lodged with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

This was one of the reactions to the theme of this year’s Mother City Queer Project (MCQP), “A Bollywood Production”.

Mohamed Mollagee, who attended last year’s annual party, told News24 on Tuesday he believed the Indian community deserved an apology as the organisers “capitalise on the heritage and dress code sacred to millions of people”.

“In the context of this event which is very popular you will have scantily clad mostly white gay men getting drunk in traditional attire, not making any effort to assist in the lived realities of any minority groups, outside of appropriating their attire and reducing a representation of deep spiritual meaning to a costume for the ‘colour blind’,” he said.

On its Facebook event page, users criticised the theme as “disrespectful, offensive and inappropriate”.

“It's just sad that the 'Queer Event Organizers', claiming to cater for a community known for its cutting edge and inventive styles and fashions, would fall back on the whole scale appropriation of another culture’s own fashions. Sad,” one user commented.

MCQP director Ian McMahon said the theme is “just another celebration of cinematic success and excellence, not intended to be anything more”.

'No religion'

Organisers said they had enlisted the help of Indian wedding organiser and Cape Town Drag Queen Lola Fine to ensure they stayed “on the right side of Bollywood” and steered away from any religious Hindi component.

The intent was that the theme “does not touch close to the religious aspects”. 

“Rest assured, nothing at this year’s event will be offensive to anyone, no matter what their own personal cultural background is,” Fine said.

“It’s going to be beautiful celebration, and as we are known as the Rainbow Nation, the colourful theme of Bollywood is a perfect fit! I was consulted by MCQP and am excited to be involved in this whole production.”

Mollagee countered that the theme reduced people and their culture to “colourful, frivolous movie characters”.

“It does not pay homage to Indian culture. Also, you cannot claim that your appropriation of someone else’s heritage is ‘not intended to be anything more’ when you are not active participants in their daily struggles and experiences and assist in bettering this in any way.”

'Selectively progressive'

Gay Cape Town was selectively progressive, he insisted.

“It's really sad when white people in power shift the focus away from the deep spiritual meaning this holds for so many people. If you do not conform to the white cis-gay ideals your story is swept under carpets and sold as ‘harmless’ fun, all in the pursuit of making money. 

“In lieu of all the social media activism that happened this past year in SA and globally one would think that the event organisers would at least make some attempt at understanding concepts like privilege and not perpetuate age old stereotypes.”

Organisers said many cities across the world hosted similar events celebrating “the colourful Indian film industry”.

McMahon said the 23rd annual party, to take place in December, was launched as a “primarily gay or ‘queer’ event”.

“It has since become an annual Cape Town institution, attended by thousands of enthusiasts of all cultures, races and sexual orientation – celebrating a fun event together in a united way as people accepting each other for who they are. It is Africa’s biggest and longest-running costume party and we always aim to be all inclusive,” he said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  bollywood

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