Before walking inside, I was expecting a day full of thoughts, thought-provoking debates. After all, it was the Delhi International Queer Theatre & Film Festival 2016 (DIQTFF 2016). But after stepping inside the very building of NCUI Auditorium, I was asked to fill a form. The one question which started driving me crazy was, what was my reason for attending the fest. The reason I had was not on the list.
As I started digging deeper, thinking of the last three years of my life, this is what I got:-
Q- Why do you want to study something like Culture & Media Studies? There is no such course. There will not be any job for it if even the course exists.
A- Why not Cultural Studies? Are you guys afraid of it?
Q- You must be studying how our culture is great.
A- No just the opposite. We question it, and if one culture is right then why is it so and if the culture is wrong then why. We study about love, sex, lust, LGBTQ, extra-marital relations, a child outside marriage, unmarried mother, tribal community, life without condition, etc.
Like Keval J Kumar has written in his book “Mass Communication in India”, that how communication is as important as food, shelter, and even oxygen, I also wanted to impart my activities with my loved ones. So, whenever I tried sharing my work and study like I got a challenge to make a short film on LGBTQ through my smartphone, or I am analyzing any banned documentaries, all I heard was “we just can’t understand what you are doing. Why don’t you study something normal?” My people started taking me as anti-social and anti-cultural now, just because I support LGBTQ; inter-caste, inter-religion and love marriages, tribal people and all.
The people around me ask me questions like ‘are you one of them’ (LGBTQ) or ‘will you follow any unnatural sub culture’? When I answer them, “No I come from a so-called straight society but still feel what if they will start discriminating us heterosexuals. They just laugh and move on in life. I sometimes, want to share my happy times with my family and friends but they reply “your views are quite unaccepting as you are living in utopia. Who will accept such stupid ideas?” And all these pointing fingers make me feel uncomfortable. We have been living in such constructed society.
But my optimism is still intact when I hear my mother correcting herself in front of me, from saying “abnormal people” to “people who mak different choices than us”. My mother is an interesting woman. She loves to read and what she can’t read by herself or if she has any doubt about it then she discusses with me. When I told her I am attending this Theatre & Film Festival then her reply was quite surprising and sweet “यह एक अच्छा अनुभव होगा”, (FYI: – earlier she has no idea about the LGBTQ) and I smiled. If she can understand and accept it then why can’t we do that?
By the way, I have completely forgotten about my reason to attend the Fest. I want to leave my discomfort far behind by sitting with the community as we accept it or not but whenever we see person from the transgender community at a traffic signal or in train asking for money, we get scared with a creepy look on our faces. I cannot deny that I am comfortable with my society comprising of homosexual and heterosexual people.
Although, the moment I entered there I had one more issue in my mind. I kept thinking, what if people start treating me differently, would that affect me? But after seeing few voices getting a platform, I realized before others judging me, I am being judgmental about them and the term LGBTQ which is not at all a disease or shame, and if someone thinks of me as one of them, that will not be offensive at all. We seem to be suffering from h omophobia. Piyush Mishra later joined the fest and the organizer asked him how you feel while meeting someone from LGBTQ, his answer was plain and pointed, no sympathy or pity for others, “कुछ भी नहीं लगता है, अंतर क्या है, कुछ भी तो नहीं”
When I moved out from the fest I was much more empowered as a person, as a human only and my purpose of joining the fest got served correctly. Few of organizations’ names were quite interesting there ‘Harmless Hugs’ and ‘Love Matters’. Yes, only love should matter and we should offer harmless hugs to all.