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Rose for the LGBT

As a refreshing step towards a society free of homophobia, Ramnarain Ruia College of Matunga had Inclusiveness as its theme for their annual Rose Day that supported love across genders

  While India goes back and forth on repealing section 377, Matunga’s Ramnarain Ruia College took a progressive step of deciding Inclusiveness — Shades of Love, as the theme for its annual Rose Day. The students aimed to raise awareness for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community.

It is easy assume that this step was fraught with hurdles, though the reality was quite the opposite. The students were overwhelmed with the support they got, particularly from their professors.

Rose King
Participants of the Rose King contest with Sushant Divgikar (in blue blazer) and Harrish Iyer (extreme right). Pic courtesy/rasika Palande

“The organising body for the festival comprises 13 teams, and every team was supposed to come up with a theme for the festival. We finally fixed the term, Inclusiveness, as we didn’t just want to support LGBT rights but love for anyone in the world.

Which is why the LGBT flag has six colours but we had one with eight,” says 21-year-old Laxmi Iyer, a third year BA student and the general secretary of the student body that organises festivals and cultural events, Vidyarthi Pratinidhi Mandal (VPM).

The crowd having a ball at Rose Day at Ruia College.  pic courtesy/rugved durgule
The crowd having a ball at Rose Day at Ruia College. Pic courtesy/rugved durgule

As part of the festival, the students also created a short video on the topic, which has been uploaded on YouTube. It is difficult to hold a festival without sponsors and we wondered if the brands were willing to be associated with the event. “We discussed our theme with the sponsors and got a positive response as they considered it a mature step. In fact we ended up getting more sponsors than we expected,” says Iyer.

The festival had LGBT rights activist, Harrish Iyer; and VJ, Mr Gay India, Sushant Divgikar, to judge the winners of their Rose King and Queen contest. “I have been to seven college festivals recently and the warmth and response I got at Ruia was unlike any other. I have travelled all over the world and I didn’t expect this level of maturity among the students in a city college. As a part of the contest, one of the boys was asked to propose anyone from the crowd. He called on his (male) best friend and told him that women, might come and go, but he will always stay his best friend. I had goosebumps looking at the way the students had accepted the cause,” says Divgikar.

Professor Vaibhavi Palsule, who is the head of VPM, and the Head of the Department (Political Science) tells us, “We didn’t want to take up the theme just because it is popular but wanted to discuss it in the right way. While teaching human rights and political science in classrooms, we always discuss gay rights and we felt it would be good to take it out of the classrooms. The students approached the theme in a non-objectionable and disciplined way and all the teachers were very happy.”

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