Note: If you are someone who belongs to the LGBT community and reading this post then please do keep in mind that I’m not completely aware of the complex issues in your life. Over the years, I have tried my best to gain knowledge about this community but it’s mostly theoretical. I don’t have a friend from this community so I apologize if I say something really stupid because of my ignorance.

I don’t know why I decided to attend this event: It was partly because of curiosity. I always want to listen to stories of people who live in a world that is different from mine. I have watched few films, read a lot of articles and some books on LGBT issues. So when I saw this event, I was wanted to attend it. The event screened films from ‘Kashish Film Festival’, which is Asia’s largest LGBT film festival.

Unfortunately, I missed the first session but I did watch some short films, a 70 minute film and a panel discussion featuring Trans woman Gazal Dhaliwal, who appeared in Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’, Actress Nandita Das who made her debut with Deepa Mehta’s ‘Fire’ and Filmmaker Hansal Mehta who has made ‘Aligarh.’

Initially, I felt like an outsider. Most of the audience members identified with the quirks of the characters…most of the people were from the LGBT community (it is my guess) , so obviously, they felt right at home. But then, as more and more films were screened, I realized that in a way, the films were not about LGBT. At the end of the day, it is not about sexual orientation or transgender issues. It is actually about finding your home. It is about finding your family. It is about freedom to be who you are. Think about it this way: Remember how you felt when you were bullied in school? Doesn’t it hurt when you join a new office and the employees don’t include you in their group? You want to belong, right? That’s exactly what this issue is about. We all want to belong and when other human beings ostracize you for being different, you feel alone. But do you remember that one person who walked up to you and talked to you in a friendly manner even though he/she could have lost friends and reputation? That’s what the straight allies at this event did. Nandita Das and Hansal Mehta are straight and they are fighting for the minority which the majority likes to bully.

I must confess this: I did feel a little awkward. I was thinking about the upbringing and my family…even though I support the LGBT community, I still have prejudices. Trust me, you only discover these when you are tested, PRACTICALLY. It is easy to change your DP to rainbow color but when you are going to watch Queer films for the first time and when you are surrounded by queer people, it’s something different. A part of me was afraid of what friends and family would think of me.

The films were beautiful. Some of them were very cute and after the initial awkwardness, the stories were just like heterosexual stories. The panel discussion was inspiring.

Godrej India Culture Lab feels like home. The organizers including Parmesh Shahani are warm and compassionate. You will never feel like an alien here because there is so much of love, respect and freedom.

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