The latest edition of Rainbow State of Mind at South Asian University was brought about by Project Voice+ and Nazariya. The event entailed a workshop, slam poetry, panel discussion, and an open mic.
Ipsa James of Karma Centre for Counseling and Wellbeing conducted the workshop and enlightened the audience about the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community. She talked about the different types of sexualities and even the subdivisions of asexuality, the diktats of patriarchy, the discriminatory Trans Bill, Article 377, and the various malpractices against the community.
As the workshop went on, the community and its allies agreed on how even men are victims of the same patriarchy, being feminine is considered weak and only women-based derogatory slangs are used in the society. Ms James revealed about the startling corrective rape and male rape statistics of other countries since India’s statistics are not available yet. From the psychological perspective, she talked about the various styles of attachments that make or break a relationship. She encouraged the audience to be more attentive to their friends’ behaviour and the ways to help them if they come out with problems about their sexuality. On being asked a question about ‘queer-friendly’ doctors, she mentioned the online websites where one can find a credible and reliable LGBT friendly doctor.
Followed by the workshop, the audience was treated with two very moving pieces of slam poetry. Uppo Tsuyo, one of the poets, began with a short message on the LGBTQ+ community in our country and sang an ode to the ‘Young Transmen of India’. In her heartfelt composition, she talked about the struggles of transgender men in our country, from the anxiety of not being ‘man enough’ and corrective rape to the scarring top surgery. Angana Sinha Ray took the stage with her poem, ‘When your Daughter Brings Home a Dyke’. Angana reclaimed the slang ‘dyke’, which is usually used in a negative connotation, using it to empower her identity. After all, dykes “are just women who love other women who consent”.
The slam poetry was succeeded by a panel discussion by Dr Ruchika from Karma Centre, Shambhavi Saxena, Writer and Editor at Youth Ki Awaaz, Ms Ipsa James, Ruth Chawngthu, Co-Founder of Nazariya, and Rudrani from MITR Trust. The title of the discussion was ‘Labels, Languages and Contemporary Queer Issues’. On being asked about the most pressing queer issues, each panellist spoke their part. Dr Ruchika talked about the biased and outdated tests to get a certification for the gender reassignment surgery. Ms Saxena and Ms James mentioned the lack of representation of the community on policy-making platforms and the judgemental behaviours among psychologists. On being questioned whether the acronym ‘LGBTQIA+’ is a narrow or wide enough representation. All the discussants agreed that such labels can be liberating and restricting at the same time. Ms Rudrani added that labels segregate people and bring inequality. The panel also broached the subject of lack of knowledge about the community. Their basic information is many a time not even taught to doctors. The government provides zero aid to the mental health sector and absolutely no mention of the history of the community.
The day ended with an open mic session on ‘The Politics of my Bedroom’ added liveliness to the environment. Since the event was a ‘safe space’; it allowed the audience members to talk about their lives freely and confidently. Out of all the performances, the most fun to watch was a drag queen expressing the sexual politics of his bedroom. From allegations against his ex to romantic words for his current partner, he was fierce and full of drama.
Image Credits: PV Purnima for DU Beat.