Mumbai is bathed in rainbow hues as it kicks off the new year with the Gay Pride Month. Starting this weekend, the month-long festival will feature a slew of events, from the Gay Games in Juhu, to the climax — the Gay Pride March in early February.
Last year, amidst reports of books, writers, movies and intellectuals being targeted, it was heartening to see that some cultural, liberal and intellectual spaces were actually opening up to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community.
LGBT movies hit some mainstream venues in the country, while educational institutes across India welcomed the Kashish film festival, which took LGBT-centric films to different college campuses, inviting discussions and debate on the movies. Mumbai had another novel experience with its first drag king performance. Professional theatre actresses dressed in drag and put up a musical play at a very mainstream Lower Parel establishment. This was yet another signal that commercial places are embracing the community without fretting about being typecast as a ‘gay-friendly’ venue.
While we still live in a very heteronormative society, Mumbai — and the rest of the country — has come a very long way from the time when LGBT activists had to face a tense battle with the authorities before the first Gay Pride March or Queer Azadi March (QAM) could be held in the city.
We hope that with the festival now upon us, there will be more visibility for the issue, and LGBT voices will be heard more frequently and clearly. The so-called lines between gay and mainstream must continue to blur. And this effort should not be restricted to the Gay Pride Month alone, but should continue through 2016. The LGBT community should not be isolated or confined to a different world from the rest.
Be it books, music, films, events, physical spaces or simply everyday workplace relationships and family bonds, the LGBT must become the mainstream, rather than the exception this year on.