A decade of pride

Updated: 06 December, 2018 12:53 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

A city-based platform for the desi queer community celebrates its 10th anniversary with an evening of short story theatre

For a platform that was created as a safe space for Asians who identify as queer to share their stories, and to offer a chance to connect them with other queer folk, it's fitting that its 10th anniversary falls in the year that will go down in history as a landmark year for the Indian LGBTQI community. And as the Gaysi Family comes together to celebrate the milestone this Sunday, toasts will also be raised to the two-month-old Supreme Court judgement that finally acknowledged same-sex love.

Started by Priya Gangwani and Sakshi Juneja, the platform has often featured collaborations with the creative arts, and this time, the founders have joined hands with the theatre company Patchworks Ensemble for the production Pinky Promise that weaves together six short stories written specially for the occasion.

Priya Gangwani
Priya Gangwani

"We approached around 15 writers, whose queer sensibilities ensured us that the stories they would write will not be caricatures of people belonging to the community. We were also keen on including stories that go beyond same-sex love; so you will see snippets of everyday life in them, which may not necessarily have a beginning or ending," shares Juneja.

Sheena Khalid, who started the ensemble with Puja Sarup and is known for the critically acclaimed production, The Gentlemen's Club AKA Tape, was part of the curatorial process. With each piece different from the other, "you'll see a trans woman navigating airport security in one story, and the generational difference between a girl and her mother in another," she informs.

Rehearsal in progress
Rehearsal in progress

Through the course of the year, the Gaysi Family plans to take the production to other cities, bringing more stories under its fold. "Our next project soon after the premiere of Pinky Promise is taking the Zine Bazaar to Delhi," says Juneja, referring to the platform for self-published literature on personal narratives around the theme of identity that they curate.

How do the co-founders look back on this 10-year journey, which in a way can also be called the microcosm of the journey of the LGBTQI community's struggle for its rights in India? "It has been a very humbling experience. Both Priya and I hail from very different backgrounds, and we had no language [for the articulation of the concerns of the community]. So, it has also been a personal journey of how we have grown with Gaysi," she says.

An artwork by artist Sanika commemorating the platform’s completion of 10 years - posters such as these are regularly featured on it
An artwork by artist Sanika commemorating the platform’s completion of 10 years - posters such as these are regularly featured on it

Khalid, whose plays delve deep into stories about and by women, recalls her experience of taking The Gentleman's Tape to Lucknow and Guwahati. "It is a drag king show with lesbian characters and a drag queen. In Guwahati, we performed before 650 audience members, and in both cities, the response was overwhelming," she says. "I am a really hopeful person. And from here on, things can only get better."

Sheena Khalid
Sheena Khalid

On December 9, 5 pm and 8 pm
At House of Party, off Link Road, Andheri West.

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First Published: 06 December, 2018 09:33 IST

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