#MELA: Meet social activist Keval Harie

Harie is executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, an activist archive in Johannesburg

Mela’s Zakeeya Patel met up with social activist – Keval Harie – recently to find out more about his journey as an Indian South African.

#JOHANNESBURG: As a social activist focusing on the LGBTIQ community, lawyer Keval Harie has drawn on his own experiences to become an effective voice against prejudice – while also finding fulfilment as a runner, baker and proud South African of Indian origin.

A love for all things Bollywood

From a very young age, I was drawn to Madhubala’s magnificent performance in K Asif’s magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam.

Little did I know then that her beguiling and compelling characterisation of the courtesan Anarkali and her defiance, spectacularly captured in the cult classic “Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya” (in which she refuses to deny her love for the prince Salim, despite their relationship being forbidden) would inform my own sense of defiant desire as a young gay man. Because life is nothing if not ironic, my mother is named after the famed actress Madhubala.

Coming out of the closet

When I first came out to my family, or rather when I was forced out of the closet to my family, it was not easy for them to accept.

“What will people say?” is something which understandably perturbed my mother and concerns around the ‘samaj’ are nothing if not an Indian obsession right?

“This is not what we do… it’s what white people do”. My Madhubala has certainly made the journey from that difficult time and is now one of my greatest champions. So much so, that other members in the community, reach out to her for support when their children come out.

Thankfully, the bond between Indian mothers and their sons is far stronger than both the fear of prejudice and perceived rebuke from a community.

A big fat Indian wedding

In April of 2018, Harie married the love of his life throwing a larger than life gay desi wedding was also a celebration of the Indian Supreme Court doing away with that colonial anti-LGBT law ‘Section 377.’

Watch this SABC Mela segment as we get to know more about Keval Harie

Harie is executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, an activist archive in Johannesburg

Source inputs & excerpts: TOI | Youtube

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