While America is standing by on Print Media Death Watch, it’s great to see that India is adding a new magazine to national circulation — especially when it’s the relaunch of the country’s only gay publication, Bombay Dost.
Bollywood star (and former Miss India) Celina Jaitley was on hand when the magazine announced its revival. She spoke passionately about the gay community in India, saying they deserved compassion, acceptance and basic human rights. She even volunteered to help finance the magazine while it is getting back on its feet.
After the launch, Jaitley received taunts and threats from homophobic groups and individuals. In a recent interview, she responded to her critics: “Martin Luther King once said, ‘You have to take the first step.’ So I said to myself that if no one is going to do it, I’m going to do it. I went to the ‘Mumbai Pride Parade’ and walked hand in hand with every person who was a gay because I wanted to let people know what being a gay is all about. It is just another relationship.”
Bombay Dost became the first LGBT publication in India in 1990. After twelve years, the magazine had to suspend publication in 2002. Dost recently received new financing and fresh inspiration. It hopes to continue to unite LGBT people across the country, to break down the sense of isolation, and to empower the community.
The first issue boasts articles like “The Year in Queer,” “The Double Entendre: Unraveling the Bisexual Conundrum” and my personal favorite “The Beauty and the Terror: The phenomenon of the Big Gay Club.” (Check out the index of the first issue here.)
As for Jaitley, she promises to continue to her quest for LGBT equality. She recently marched in another gay pride parade, and began calling for reform on legislation that makes homosexuality a crime.
And she promises that, this time, Bombay Dost is here to stay: “[It] isn’t a typical glamour magazine. It’s about bonding the gay community together and that is the only way people will come to know of what’s happening with such communities. Now if I as a gay right activist won’t help it, then who will help it? They had no sponsor for the mag seven years ago and it shut down. I won’t let it happen now.”
(Thanks to AfterEllen.com reader Marcia for the tip!)