On the 15th & 16th of February, Mumbai city was witness to a historic event – The first ever Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit. Founded, organized and implemented by MINGLE, this summit brought together many Queer/Ally youth for a leadership initiative.
In the aftermath of the oppressive 377 ruling in December 2013, India has seen many incredible events that have originated from within the Queer Community and its supporters. The LGBT Youth Leadership summit was definitely a high point in the list of amazing things that have happened. Gaysi partnered with MINGLE for the event and two of our editors were there for the whole two days.
In their opinion, it was crazy smart people talking and doing brilliant and smart things …and they just happen to be Queer friendly.
We have the chance to bring you the thoughts of two attendees of the event. The first was a speaker at the summit, Sharmistha Ray – Mumbai based artist and long time Gaysi ally. The second is Sahil – a young and enthusiastic queer voice implementing ideas on the ground. Here is what they had to say –
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into MINGLE’s LGBT Youth Empowerment Summit, the first of its kind, organized over two days at a Juhu hotel in Mumbai. In a way, I was curious about the young minds that had collected there to convene on all matters “queer.” I was pleasantly surprised to find a knowledgeable, feisty group of young individuals, albeit gender unbalanced, eager to take on leadership roles within their communities spread out all over the country, although mostly in the first and second-tier metropolitan cities. It was a heartening experience for me because I’ve been despairing over the state of the queer nation since 377 was upheld by the Supreme Court. Now is the time to connect, forge bonds across lines of sexual and gender identity and build an unshakeable resistance at the grass-roots level. I sense, that even more than the talks and workshops that convened, the greater force at work were the networks that have culminated since the summit. We are all connected, and this community has strength in numbers. For my part, I spoke about “Soul-Searching” and my own creative journey as an artist, and how that has been informed by the formation of my own sexual identity across cultures, communities and continents. The response from the group was fantastic. While I don’t call myself an activist (that term should be reserved for all the noble folk who are community-building and hands-on organizing the resistance), I am glad to be a positive role model for the community. I hope that more women, transgendered and intersexual individuals come into the fold in future events. You are important and needed! Help build a queer nation inside the nation! My deepest thanks to Udayan Dhar, the wonderful people at MINGLE and, not least, their partners for leading the charge.
The LGBT Youth Leadership summit has been a thought provoking experience for me at so many different levels that words actually fall short when I attempt to describe the same. The very ideology of providing the present day power house youth with enough skill, vigor and knowledge to transform them into tomorrow’s rational and empowered leaders is in itself so novel and needs all the appreciation that one can garner. And then, when you include the hot shots from different fields to actually be there and ensure that youths like me go through a holistic and overall learning and pragmatic experience, it is truly phenomenal and inspiring.
The summit took a detailed view onto gender and queer rights, leadership and living, spirituality and free spirited expression, smart ways to propagating the queer movement (something which is really needed in the present time) and a concluding panel discussion with the maestros of present day Indian LGBT Movement, touching up on all that we have learnt and emphasizing on point we need to take by heart.
I say that and I feel myself doing gross injustice to the entire contents of the summit, for really the entire experience cannot be put to words. The very fact that we were all in a room, sharing the mind space and reverberating energies with fellow future-leaders, was nothing less than revolutionizing. The speakers were spectacular, all so very keen and earnest in sharing their life’s journey and along with that, getting the opportunity to be a part of a group that is so dynamic and eager to learn and take forward the Indian Queer Liberation Movement was enthralling. Towards the end, it was like one of those school and college farewell, wherein you know you are going to step out of here and express your truest self with confidence and élan and are poised enough to achieve your dreams, but you are somehow so attached to each and everybody that you cannot help but sigh nostalgia.
I have with me the skills I require to further strengthen and intensify the activism at a personal level, and more than that, I have memories that I would cherish throughout life.
Watch the Gaysi space for more MINGLE events in the future. In the meantime, do write in to us if you have an extraordinary and inspiring experiences to share!