Pride Marches in India: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

(…) We must walk to fill the widening hollows that pockmark our cities through which migrants, dissenters, queers, muslims, dalits, workers, the poor, and our infinite “others” keep disappearing. We must walk to reclaim empathy and love as the defining fabric of our cities even as we hold their frayed and torn edges in our hands. We must walk to take back the street, the maidan, the gali as spaces that cannot be bought or taken without a fight so that they may have other legacies, other dreams, other histories. We must walk for every eulogy left unsaid for the lives taken by hate and to drown out those that seek to honour both the living and the dead that stand by their prejudice and burn their beliefs on the bodies of others. We must walk for the only answer that stands the test of time against a politics of hate is a deep, guttural, full-throated, and unapologetic reaffirmation of love.

— Gautam Bhan, “A City’s Pride,” Kafila, 2012

I am excited to start blogging in my new professional capacity as a digital pedagogy specialist and community worker at the University of Michigan Library. In June 2018, I joined members of the Feminism in India (FII) team, Gaylaxy Magazine, students, and other city professionals for a daylong Wikipedia edit-a-thon on India’s Pride marches at Delhi’s Instituto Cervantes. Collectively, we edited and updated entries on Pride events in Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Patna, Kolkata, Nagpur, Guwahati, Dehradun, Jaipur, and Gurgaon, among others.

My motivation to participate in this public event was two-fold: 1) to contribute to the under-resourced information base on queer Pride marches in India; and 2) to learn with other queer and feminist activists from around the country. Having co-led, learnt from, and participated in the Ann Arbor Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in March, I was delighted to further my technical and community skills in a new context.

Edit-a-thons are a great way to address gaps and omissions in Wikipedia queer histories. They also provide an opportunity to correct misinformation and misgendering in queer bios, and make substantive edits as a collective. Most importantly, they help us speak to the problem of underrepresentation among Wikipedia global editors (the vast majority of which are white, straight, cis-gendered male under the age of 30).

As editors, however, we grappled with Wikipedia’s “notability” criteria. Similar to what Lori Brown and other feminists have argued in the context of WikiD Women in Design Project, the task of adding content on queer lives and events can be difficult because not all such efforts have digital visibilities. It is here that the efforts of collectives like FII and Gaylaxy Magazine play an important role in building source information from within the community and with care. With an eye toward addressing this structural limitation, I look forward to keeping in touch with FII, especially as we explore future queer and feminist events at the two ends of the globe. Many thanks to Japleen Pasricha of FII for organizing this event.

Bhan’s words continue to inspire.

(Image: Danish Sheikh, The “Global Day of Rage” protest against the Supreme Court of India ruling on Section 377, Law Quad, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, December 15, 2013)

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