Here is a story that will brighten your day. A gay Indian artist, by the name of Balbir Krishnan, was viciously attacked by an unidentified aggressor in the heart of the country. The attack came when the artist was speaking about his collection, titled “Out Here And Now”, in front of a camera crew in the Lalit Kala Akademi exhibition space.
As the video shows, a man, covering his face with a handkerchief, suddenly appears in the background and smashes one of Balbir’s pieces closest to him and then pushes and kicks Balbir to the ground while continuously insulting him with not so pleasant words. There is one more thing I should mention—Balbir is a double amputee.
Balbir tragically lost both of his legs in a colossal train accident in 1996, which compelled him to get artificial limbs. Such a pitiful attack comes to us at a time when the phenomenon of homophobia is as relevant as it has ever been. This phenomenon certainly doesn’t limit itself to countries such as India or other ‘not-so-developed’ countries in the world, but it is as big of an issue in the ‘developed’ West.
With the growing presence of a gay sub-culture inside mainstream consciousness, homophobia has also grown as a popular reaction and antidote in various circles and movements. In the case of Balbir, Hindu extremism is to blame, as weeks prior to the opening of his first exhibition, Balbir was bombarded with continuous threats and messages that said “we chased Hussein away, you are nothing” and “you are determined to ruin Hinduism”. This strand of crazed Hinduism defines homosexuality as blasphemous within our social context and, more alarmingly, it promotes it as a threat, a farce, an impurity, an infidelity and a glitch within how things are supposed to work.
This story is so bizarre. So much so that with its bizarreness, it has the potential to kill (or awaken…I hope) the ambition of thousands of not only gay Indian artists making Krishnan-like art (if you will), but also thousands of further artists that are producing art that is provoking enough.
So, Mr. Attacker, your attack on Balbir Krishnan stands as an attack against all artists and art itself. You have really outdone yourself this time. Not only have you publicly shamed yourself in your inhumane act in kicking and swearing at a physically handicapped artist while covering your face, but, you have also succeeded in showing that you are not confident or competent enough to intellectually confront that which you despise.
Mehran Najafi is a 5th year student, patching up his expertise in International Development studies in the University of British Columbia. He aspires to be a groovy writer, photographer, thinker, conspirator and DJ. Oddly enough, he likes to introduce himself as the meditative space that sits above the hyphen in ‘Iranian-Canadian’, but is frequently disappointed, as the people around him like to think otherwise. On his free time, he plays, laughs, spins, twirls, and jumps, up and down, down and up, round and round from one day to the next.