In an unprecedented support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) cause, students from several colleges in Delhi are organizing screenings and discussions of LGBT themed films at their campus.

The screenings at Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar and Ambedkar University Delhi that were held on November 3rd, and at Ashoka University on November 5th are part of the initiative KASHISH Forward that is organized by KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, in their effort to create awareness about LGBT issues among youth and staff members.

“Only through such attempts at collaboration and coming together can the LGBT community and its allies build effective campaigns around LGBT rights, solidarity, culture and celebration thereof,” said Gaurav Kumar, Project Mentor, Breaking Barriers. Breaking Barriers is a unique initiative of students of Tagore International School to create awareness in their school about LGBT issues.

Mahika Banerji, student at Ambedkar University Delhi says, “As part of AUD queer collective, we see KASHISH Forward as an initiative to encourage sensitization towards the LGBT community amongst students in the university space”.

At Ashoka University, KASHISH Forward is part of a 3 day film festival titled ‘Q-Screen’ organized by the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Shiv D Sharma, manager of the festival says, “While Q-Screen emphasizes on study of queerness in Indian context, it hopes that KASHISH Forward screening will simultaneously help students in gaining global perspectives on LGBT lives and issues. What we at CSGS find unique and valuable about the program is its prospect of engaging with audience for a few hours at a stretch on variety of LGBT issues through the lens of multiple short films from around the world, instead of just one film set in a single socio-cultural background. This format combined with discussions can be really impactful.”

The screenings that comprise of Indian and international award winning LGBT films particularly focussed on youth deal with diverse subjects like gender, sexuality, coming out, homophobia, transphobia, family acceptance, pride, etc. KASHISH Forward screenings have already been held at Panjab University, Chandigarh; Presidency College, Kolkata; Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai.

“We need to raise awareness about issues to end stigma and discrimination of LGBT youth, and if we can begin that within campuses, it is a great step ahead. And what better way to do it than screening of films focused on youth and having a discussion,” says Sridhar Rangayan, festival director of KASHISH, who has been traveling with this campus initiative across India.

“Student groups of various colleges across India are coming forward with requests to screen KASHISH Forward and that is really encouraging. They are convincing their faculty to hold the screening at their campus,” says Rangayan.

KASHISH Forward will next travel end of November to Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad as part of the inter-IIM festival Confluence.

KASHISH Forward is supported by Movies That Matter, an arm of Amnesty International (Netherlands) and organized by KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, which is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only queer film festival in India to be held in mainstream theaters.