“The Queers Have Landed: A Discussion on ‘Queeristan’”
Parmesh Shahani, Dhamini Ratnam and Arvind Narrain in conversation with Alok Hisarwala.
Barely a month and a half way away from the 2nd Anniversary of Navtej (the Indian queer rights decision), we bring you an exciting panel reflecting back and also forward, onto the queer movement.
This panel is also an occasion to celebrate Parmesh’s excellent book ‘Queeristan’ that brings together so much the queer movement in India has achieved through its history, the fight against Section 377 and particularly through establishing a transformative dialogue for LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace.
From reports – two decades ago – authored by Arvind Narrain (as part of PUCL) that documented the daily violence and abuse faced by the transgender community, Queeristan travels through our long journey, with stories of trans-inclusion in some of the top companies across India. Queeristan is a must read because it combines a serious rigour and manifesto, with a flamboyance and humour that is so quintessentially Parmesh.
Please join us in this amazing discussion where Dhamini, Arvind and Parmesh walk us through the incredible journey of queer India.
Parmesh Shahani is an LGBT inclusion advocate, author of Queeristan (2020) (the subject of our discussion today) and Gay Bombay (2008), a TED Senior and Yale World Fellow, and Vice President at Godrej Industries. The Godrej India Culture Lab which he founded in 2011 redefined our experience of art, culture, performance and politics. Parmesh and the Culture Lab, achieved a feat that no one ever could, not even the wannabe Bandra-wallahs, shifting the culture hub of the city to Vikhroli. While being extremely prolific, multi-tasking, networking across the globe, Parmesh never ceases to look fabulous. Please go buy his book.
Dhamini Ratnam is a journalist and associate editor of Hindustan Times. Her writing focuses on Gender, Sexuality, Social justice, Development, Art and Culture. In addition, Dhamini hosts an excellent podcasts called the Gender Question, which everyone must tune into. Dhamini has been a chronicler of the LGBTQ movement in her writing, some pieces that have personally stayed with me are “The arrests that sparked a crusade against s. 377” – on the famous 2001 Lucknow arrests, and “Patient Zero: legacy of an AIDS warrior” the story of Dominic D’souza from Parra in Goa and his friendship with Anand Grover – who went on to fight for the rights of HIV positive people and the LGBTQ community. Dhamini is currently working on her own book – a biography of the queer movement against section 377 of the IPC.
Arvind Narrain (apart from being my dearest, oldest friend, brother, colleague and ally) is a long standing queer activist involved in many human rights struggles in the country. Arvind co-founded the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. He is the author of Queer: Despised Sexuality, Law and Social Change and co-editor of Because I Have a Voice: Queer Politics in India, along with Gautam Bhan. He has also co-edited Law Like Love with Alok Gupta. Arvind was one of the team of lawyers in the Section 377, challenge, both in the High Court of Delhi and the Supreme Court of India.
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