During my childhood, I remember coming across a rather macho image of Pakistan People’s Party founding president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I saw the image in a peep show through a Kaleidoscope machine carried by a gypsy man who used to frequent my hometown along the Sindh-Punjab border. The year was 1970 and considering the sheer number of PPP flags hoisted atop houses, shops, trees and electric poles, it seemed as if it was a spring of the PPP tricolor in the town. On the arrival of the gypsy peep show man, I and other children would form a cue waiting for our turn to look into the kaleidoscope machine. As one of our eyes would be set onto thelensmounted a sill of the machine, the gypsy man would utter a phrase in a loud voice that may be translated as “the king of the men and the lion of the God”. Moving an iron bar handle with one hand as one of his eyes was set on the other sill, the gypsy man would say in Punjabi “Wekho wekho Bhutto saada sher hay, Baqi her pher hay” (Look, our Bhutto is a lion, the rest are just a deception). What we peeped through the machine was a black and while image of Bhutto ascending on a horse wearing Quraqli aka Jinnah cap, carrying his party flag in one hand and a sword in the other. In the backdrop, a Persian verse would appeared on the sky which was also recited during the show by the gypsy man: “Shah-e-Mardaan, Sher-e-Yazdan, Quwate Parwardigar, Lafitaila Ali la Saif-e-ila Zulfiquar” (The king of all the men, the lion of the God, The force of the One who feeds us all, there is no victory without Ali, and no sword without Zulfiquar”). In the following years, we heard more macho and male chauvinistic, if not misogynistic, rhetoric from the gypsy man during his peep shows. “Look at Indira Gandhi becoming a goat in front of our lion Bhutto sahib,” he would announce to introduce new spectacles in his machine. In those days, the country had recently signed the Simla Accord with India. And, Bhutto’s own statements regarding his meetings with then Indian prime minister were couched in somewhat macho tone. “The only thing that bothered me was physical contact with this woman,” Bhutto was quoted as having said in an interview with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. The statement had almost jeopardised the return of 90,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War (POWs) as well as occupied areas from India. Both matters had already been settled in the Simla Accord From the tri-colour of the PPP flag to the image of a rainbow, there has been quite a metamorphosis of a man and his legacy. Two generations later, we have a Bhutto who speaks up against misogyny, Islamophobia and homophobia all in one breathe Another instance where Bhutto did not shy away from making controversial remarks was when he referred to the Chief Justice of the then High Court of Sindh and Balochistan, Justice Tufail Ali Abdul Rehman, as an ‘old wailing woman’. This was after the latter had taken serious notice of the arrest and handcuffing of sessions judge, Owais Murtaza. The judge had drawn the ire of the Bhutto regime by sanctioning bail to six Hurs of Pir Pagaro at Sanghar. Nonetheless, the allegations of raping men incarcerated as political prisoners remains the worst memory from those days of the Bhutto regime. Thus, to equate the leader to the figure of a brides groom or a lion was meant to present him as a masculine hero.“There stood a leader from Larkana carrying the Hydery weapon (the sword Zulfiqar exclusively relates to Imam Ali and is considered as a symbol of bravery), standing tall as a man and a mujahid against a lion”, Sindhi folk Singer Ali Gul Mahar would frequently sing this verse during the general elections of 1970. Then, there is the following quote from If I Am Assassinated, penned by Bhutto in his prison cell: “My sons will not be my sons if they do not drink the blood of those who dared to shed my blood”. It seems his two sons had taken the line as nothing short of a war cry. Even Tariq Ali also used the metaphor of a Tiger for Bhutto as he opted for the figure of a fox for the beneficiary-turned-tormentor dictator Ziaul Haq in his play that was written after Bhutto’s execution. All this and now we have Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior speaking his heart out about his drag performances. Saying what no other Bhutto has yet dared to say. At Benazir Bhutto’s last press conference at New York, I had asked her if she would allow LGBT rights movements in Pakistan if she was elected the prime minister for the third time on her return. Her response was, “I am unable to answer your question.” This was August 2007 when a transgender person got married to a man in Faisalabad. I also asked Ms Bhutto if she supported that marriage. To many, including my editor that was a ‘weird’ question since everyone else was asking Ms Bhutto about her then much talked about patch up with military dictator Pervez Musharraf. Something she had vehemently denied. “If you will again ask the question you asked Benazir Bhutto, we will rethink our decision to keep you as our reporter in New York,” were the words of my editor at an Urdu global news network in an e-mail sent in response when I filed my story. “I am a poet and a revolutionary. I am the rainbow of history,” the senior Bhutto has been quoted as saying once. From the tricolor of the PPP flag to the image of a rainbow, there has been quite a metamorphosis of a man and his legacy. Two generations later, we have a Bhutto who speaks up against misogyny, Islamophobia and homophobia all in one breath. Bravo Zulfikar Ali Junior! The writer is a journalist, poet, lyricist, writer and human rights defender, living in New York. He has worked with the Newsline and the BBC Published in Daily Times, July 2nd, 2017.