Queeristan-So Many Queer Indias revolved around the numerous collectives and individuals who are working for LGBTQ rights, and who are often ignored by dominant media narratives.
The day began with a talk on The 377 Victory! by Anand Grover, senior advocate and director of the Lawyers Collective, who argued on behalf of Naz Foundation, the original petitioners in the legal challenge to Section 377. This was followed by four screenings of Zara Nazar Utha Ke Dekho, Ishq Dosti and All That, Please Mind The Gap and I’m Not There by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. We also had a stand-up performance by comedian Navin Noronha who shared anecdotes of the time when Section 377 was being hotly debated.
We also had a panel discussion featuring Rachana Mudraboyina of TransVision; Diti of Xukia, a queer collective based in Assam; Darvesh Singh Yadavendra, who is the founding member of the Awadh Queer Committee; and Maya Sharma, author of Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India. The session was moderated by Anish Gawande, director of Dara Shikoh Fellowship.
The closing performance of the day was a special Queeristan concert featuring Rani Ko-HE-Nur (of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame), Bidisha Mohanta (of India’s Got Talent fame) and upcoming Waacking star Siddhesh Kamble.
The exhibits on display during Queeristan included Recollecting Pieces by Maari Zwick-Maitreyi, which included renderings of the natural world and the universe; Home by Steevez Rodriguez, who shot portraits of transwomen at home; Marc Ohrem-Leclef’s Jugaad/Of Love and Intimacy, a project that used photos and text to reveal how people across class, educational backgrounds and age pursue their desire for same-sex intimacy without committing themselves to be ‘out’; and a queer romance bulletin titled Love in the times of Instagram by Jo and Dan featuring Insta posts of how same sex people seek each other out.