The many shades of pride
A performing arts platform collaborates with an LGBTQ forum for an evening of stories you may not have heard before
A lot has changed between December 2012 — when the Supreme Court overturned the Delhi High Court's decision which decriminalised homosexuality among consenting adults — and September 2018, when the country's top court upheld that sexual autonomy is a pillar of individual liberty. Such that when the landmark verdict was announced, many from the LGBTQIA+ community were sure that it would come through in their favour. And the credit for that goes to years of advocacy and sensitisation that the community has worked towards through various initiatives.
To celebrate the verdict and as a way to move forward, performing arts platform Kommune has tied up with Gaysi Family (GF), a forum for the LGBTQ community, for The Storytellers: Azaadi, an evening of stories that challenge the popular narrative around queer people and their lives.
The idea of a collaborative event began with an informal conversation between Harisankar PS of Kommune and his friend and GF writer Pooja Krishnakumar. "There is a certain unilateral-ity about the stories that come out from the community. And we wanted to provide a safe space for the sharing of experiences. That said, we left the curation entirely to the Gaysi Family," says Harisankar, adding that the GF team was clear that they didn't want famous names among the speakers.
Pooja Nair (left), one of the 10 speakers, will talk about being non-binary and LGBTQ activist Sonal Giani (right) will host the storytelling session
Sakshi Juneja of Gaysi shares, "The aim is to put across as many diverse narratives as possible through powerful stories that haven't been told and by speakers who may not have had a platform to share their experiences so far." She further explains that by now, people know about the lesbian, gay and transgender community, but the concept of gender fluidity, for instance, is still something many are unclear about. "So we have Pooja Nair, who identifies as non-binary and will speak about being treated like a woman because they look like our perception of what a typical woman is," she adds.
Jerry Johnson (left) will talk about religion and queer people in the social fabric and Shruti Bhiwandiwala (right) will speak from the perspective of a bi-curious person
The host for the evening is Sonal Giani, well-known LGBTQ rights activist and founder of youth collectives Umang and Yaariyan. "What we often hear are stories of coming out and survival. But there is also the narrative of intersection [of identities]. What, for example, does it mean to be a queer woman from the North East? This is something that Prashansa Gurung will be talking about," she says.
What does a tie-up with a mainstream platform mean for the community? "We already work with sensitised people. So moving into a safe yet mainstream space is important [for the dialogue to reach more people]," Giani says. Juneja agrees. "When such stories are told, the information and sensitisation is for everyone in the room, including the venue's management," she says.
"The biggest goal is to move beyond gender and sexuality. [These parameters] alone can't define a person. It's still a long way to go, but the first step towards that is representation," Harisankar sums up.
ON October 14, 5 pm
AT Levi's Lounge, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Lower Parel.
RSVP Send a direct message to @kommuneity on Instagram (limited seats; entry on first come first served basis)
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