On Tuesday, February 11, the AARC partnered with the CMC President’s Office, the CMC Religious Studies Department, and the Center for Human Rights Leadership in order to bring Indian academic and activist Ruth Vanita to the Claremont Colleges. She met with students for lunch at Collins, and in the afternoon she gave a spectacular talk at the library on same-sex love and Hinduism. The next morning she took several students out to breakfast.
The talk attracted over 35 students and professors to the library and was one of South Asian Committee’s most successful events yet. Vanita explained that thoughts of homosexuality as unnatural and disgusting were introduced through British colonization and the Christianization of Hinduism and Hindu culture. Vanita also mentioned that in spite of Section 377, LGBTQ activism has even increased in scope and visibility, and there are many straight allies working across India and across religious differences. After the lecture and discussion, many students stayed after to ask Vanita questions and purchase her books.
One Pomona student reflected thoughtfully on the event, “As someone who knew little about the topic going into the talk, Ruth Vanita gave me both a good overview of the issue and enough detail of certain aspects to prompt me to learn more.” Another CMC student was “sorry [she] couldn’t make it to the talk,” adding that she hoped to hear more about it soon.
I was truly inspired by Ruth Vanita and am extremely grateful to be at an institution where it is possible to gather enough resources to bring such an incredible woman to campus.