April 30, 2010

To be or not to be: On Queer Nazariya


I JUST ATTENDED the Queer Nazariya film festival in Bombay and I loved the experience. In the discussion about queer communities, law and culture, Ponni Arasu, a gay rights activist from Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, spoke of the need for the queer community in India to redefine itself and its goals after the groundbreaking Delhi High Court judgment against Section 377 of the Indian Constitution which criminalizes homosexuality. In some senses only the idea of being queer can actually encompass the reality of sexual processes. Sex is funny and inescapably queer. I’ve been a part of the amorphous queer community in Bangalore (via workshops at Sangama) and have witnessed the Queer Azadi city marches (vicariously for various reasons) and then the subsequent mobilization around 377. It feels like a beautiful journey and we have a long way to go.

I have claims to this cause, as does everybody. None of us can deny that issues of love and sexuality are wrapped up with belonging and community, and that acceptance is a prerequisite to survival. As a feminist, I have a problem with patriarchal and hetero-normative sexual mores. I feel resuscitated and enlivened by such spaces where there is no barrier on love or the exchange of it.

I thought that the films represented a raw and challenging new post-modern body of work set to redefine norms of seeing, of sex and sexuality, of history and culture. If you want to see where relationships are going in the future then this movement is one of the places to look at. Among the films that stood out were Rex Vs Singh by Ali Kazimi, Richard Fung and John Greyson, Proteus by John Greyson and Jack Lewis and Journey into Kafiristan by Fosco Dubini and Donatello Dubini. The novel series Fucking Different by producer Kristian Peterson which featured work by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi and transsexual) film-makers on LGBT issues was entertaining.

Curators Smriti Nevatia and Sophie Parisse need to be congratulated  not just for the engaging fare but also for the pertinent concerns that came through: queer activism in the developing world and the need to engage with larger struggles for identity and self determination and against racism and fundamentalisms, religious and otherwise. Aesthetically, queer practices and perspectives create fresh and new ways of expressing and celebrating sexuality, and the films managed to achieve this.

To us!

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