1st Awadh Queer Film Festival in Lucknow Opens Dialogue on LGBTQ Issues in the City

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Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, hosted its first queer film festival recently. The Awadh Pride Committee in collaboration with the Humsafar Trust organized the Awadh Queer Film Festival on April 2, 2017, that explored various aspects of gender and sexuality. The Rai Umanath Bali Auditorium, in Qaiser Bagh, in the heart of city, was the venue for the film festival.

“The response from colleges, socialites, and the mainstream society to the film festival was tremendous,” said Tanzil Ahmed, who is part of the Awadh Pride Committee. “We were able to raise awareness and sensitize the mainstream society on LGBTIQA+ issues through the powerful medium of films,” added Ahmed.

Picture courtesy: Awadh Pride Committee

The festival screened nine films and kicked off with the screening of the Transgender National Anthem. “‘It is well known that sexual monitories have been mistreated, misunderstood and continue to face severe discrimination and stigma; be in schools, colleges, home, family, friends and society. Adding to this, India has Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, reinforced by the Supreme Court of India. The law adds to the abuse already faced by the community. This film festival is a tiny but crucial step towards reaching out to the larger section of the society with messages on love, acceptance and dignity to all as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution,” said Yadavendra Singh Darvesh, Awadh Pride Committee Member, photographer and LGBT activist.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion with focus on need to mainstreaming of community  with educational institutes, invisibility of lesbian & bisexual women, and transgender issues. The panel comprised actress Sadaf Zafar along with LGBTQ activists from Uttar Pradesh.

“It was a unique film festival. There is a need for more such events not only in metro cities but also smaller cities and towns of India,” said Tinesh Chopade – Assistant Program Manager, Humsafar Trust.

The audience too could sense the love in Fiza-e-Awadh. “This event was  my first exposure to LGBT community, that too in my very own Lucknow city. Awadh is known for its diversity and the film festival represented it very well,” said a student from AMITY University who attended the festival.

Lucknow’s very first Awadh Queer Pride Walk is slated to be held on April 9, 2017

Yashwinder Singh

Yashwinder Singh is a LGBT Rights activist and has been working for the community for the last 12 years. He set up Haryana's first LGBT centre in 2006 and established India's first transgender beauty parlour and training centre in 2009 at Faridabad. He currently manages Humsafar Trust's Delhi office.