Queer fest, celebrating alternative sexuality


New Delhi : An unwaxed pair of hands adorned with silver bangles holding a man in an embrace, two girls with their lips locked – these were just some raw emotions on display Tuesday at a photo exhibition here, part of the Queer Fest that celebrates alternative sexuality.

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Many similar emotions, which many would not understand, flowed freely through the auto-portraits exhibited in a small corner of the Regal building in the city centre of Connaught Place. Most of the photographs seemed to find a voice of their own.

The festival, being held for the first time, has been organised by Nigah, a group that works for the alternative sexual community.

"It's for the first time that we are organising a festival like this but we hope that it will become an annual affair. Gays, lesbians, eunuchs or bisexuals – this festival is basically a celebration of alternative sexuality," said Sunil Gupta, a visual artist and one of the festival organisers.

The weeklong festival kicked off Saturday with a host of film screenings on sexuality at the India Social Institute at Lodhi Road. They focused on the kind of lives members of the community are forced to live and the general apathy of society towards them.

Made by national and international directors, the films showcased included "Coffee Date" by Stewart Wade of the US, "Lost and Found" by Shrenik of India, "Paper Dolls" by Tomar Heymann of Israel and "Roya and Omid" by Britain's Elhum Shakerifar.

The unique event, which ends June 2, will also hold a legal rights workshop at Regal building itself to discuss the issue from a legal perspective. The panel, from Lawyers Collective, will clear doubts ranging from section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that criminalizes consensual sex between same sex individuals to what one should if fired from one's job for being HIV positive.

The festival will end with a candle light vigil at Jantar Mantar aimed at sensitising people about alternative sexuality.

"Every now and then we hear cases of people committing suicide for being forced to marry against his/her choice by their family or being threatened to be kicked out of their property. This is unjust and the attitude must change," said Gupta.

The Nigah group was born three years back at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where avid discussions on such issues took place in classrooms before it came out in the open.