As we float through November cursing and reading our course books, let’s pause and look back at how fabulously queer 2017 has been for college folks in Delhi!
The idea of a university is to constantly question, critique, and reform the status-quo. Campus spaces are arenas where thinking minds have the freedom to engage in conversations, and discuss the otherwise allegedly ‘uncomfortable’ subjects. Naturally, gender-sensitization and the fight against homophobia have gained momentum on Indian campuses in the recent years. With increasing awareness, students are now more willing to participate in discourse and work together to establish gender-sensitive environments.
Several college campuses in Delhi have been creating new initiatives; for instance, almost every college now has a Gender Forum or a Woman’s Development Cell (WDCs), or both, who work through the year to create events, campaigns, and discussions on the queer movement. Here are some events which established 2017 as the year of focusing on gender and sexuality.
Delhi University Queer Collective
DUQC was initially established as a student-run LGBTQI organisation in 2014, but 2017 saw its revival – which, indeed, was no less than a celebration. The collective was given new life by a group of enthusiastic students from various DU colleges, and its success has been unprecedented since. The DUQC is a unique organisation as it was formed following the Supreme Court verdict which re-criminalized homosexuality through Section 377. Its formation was also a response towards the absence of support mechanisms for queer students in Delhi University. It has grown into effervescent movement throughout Delhi, and is constantly working towards developing a safe space for queer students.
The Pride Writeathon
“When you come out, don’t put yourself at the mercy of anyone’s approval,” wrote Rituj Sahu in his write-up for the write-a-thon organised by DUQC and Youth Ki Awaaz as a part of celebrating the 10th Delhi Queer Pride Parade this year. This online campaign brought forth bold and inspirational stories from queer youth about their experiences with coming out, family, peers and society. This landmark initiative made a bold statement on self-acceptance and embracing one’s identity.
“We all talk of queer pride but no one knows the struggle behind it. The campaign is an effort to bring out these stories and what goes on behind them, whether they are tales of love, hate, desire or anything else,” Rafiul Alom Rahman, the founding member of DUQC and an LGBTQ activist told Hindustan Times.
(Image Source // DU Beat)
Earlier this year, the Women’s Development Cell of Miranda House organised the very comprehensive Gender Mela where discussions around gender found space in different forms. The Mela was held from April 6-8, and saw talks, performances and art displays.
The sessions were held by esteemed activists, including Kamla Bhasin, Suneeta, Dhar, Rituparna Boruah, among others, and saw discussions on child rights to feminist art to intersectionality and masculinity. Several Delhi-based activist organisations attended these sessions along with college students from all over the city. The Mela also incorporated cultural performances, with a number of college dramatics societies performing nukkad naataks. The second evening also witnessed poetry, with an open mic, which was held for students to perform poems around their personal experiences with gender. The Mela concluded with a film screening of Miss Representation.
Student Panel: Contestations within the Queer Movement
DUQC had organised one of its first events of the year in Ramjas College in the form of a student panel. Even though the Queer Movement has been pretty clear with its stand against the law, students here collected to discuss the more ambiguous themes of caste, class, orientation; internal conflicts within the movement, along with the subject of representation, were also extensively discussed.
The panellists, who consisted of queer-identifying Delhi University students, shared their stories, and accounts of how they experience space in the queer movement. The dominance of the homosexual upper-class males in the movement was discussed, as were other stimulating topics about status of dalits, asexuals, and institutional problems faced by trans people.
Samabhav – Film Festival
(Image Source // Samabhav Twitter)
This two-day film festival was organised by Mumbai-based Men Against Violence and Abuse at Miranda House on October 30 and 31. It was inaugurated by activist Kamla Bhasin, and was followed by screenings of linguistically and globally diverse films, which focussed especially on gender and sexuality.
Each screening was followed by an interactive session between film-makers and students. Filmmaker Rahul Roy and writer Gautam Bhan were also invited to speak at the festival, which concluded as a beautiful blend of the spectrum of gender and cinema.