India's gay professor Ashley Tellis was hounded all his career
Friday, 16th April 2010
He is an open gay and knows homophobia, and what AMU Professor S R Siras may have gone through in the days leading up to his sudden death, too well. Ashley Tellis, Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, has faced and fought virulent homophobic attacks in several academic institutions of the country while his career suffered in the process.
"I began teaching after my MA in 1991 in Bombay University (I was barely 21) and was attacked by my department for teaching an Adrienne Rich poem (Rich is a lesbian poet from the US). Teachers began checking notebooks to know what I taught and claimed that students were upset and complaining. I quit the temporary post in two months," he says.
In 1994, Tellis left India for his PhD from Cambridge. He returned in 1999 and got an ad-hoc post at St Stephen's College. He lived on the campus — only to face another bout of homophobia. "I had abuses scrawled on my door, porn pictures slipped under my door, underwear stuck on my door. I handed a letter of complaint to the then principal Anil Wilson, but nothing came of it. I had many arguments with him over the way the college functioned. I quit the college at the end of the academic year."
Tellis then went for an interview with the Venkateswara College. "I was not given the post because I was homosexual. I know this because one of the experts on the panel, who still teaches at the university, informed me later." When contacted, the professor refused to comment.
The gay rights activist then landed a job at Kirori Mal College where he taught for about three years. There, he was involved with a gender group called Parivartan and a university-wide group called Forum Against Sexual Harassment (FASH), which was instrumental in formulating Delhi University's sexual harassment policy — a development that reportedly did not go down well with the authorities.
Publication : Yahoo India