The Queer Azadi Mumbai (QAM), an LGBTQ movement, will have month-long events starting from January 5, 2018 till February 3.The Pride March on February 3 is expected to be bigger and have more events compared to last years. Corporate giant Godrej will be organising a number of events.”There will be queer networking and queer theatre now besides queer aethetics,” said Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab, which is a culture space that the company started to promote culture conversation in city.”Corporates have been talking to us but not many have opened up as yet,” said Harish Iyer, an LGBTQ activist.Section 377, which has often been an impediment, is the prime focus of QAM. The pride month will trend with the hashtag of #377QuitIndia. In a first, it will have a stage performance by Asmita Theatre Group and Harmless Hugs, in collaboration with Gay Bombay.There will also be plays, questions and answer sessions and ways in which people from different cities can familiarise with each other.
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Rajpipla, a small city in Narmada District of Gujarat, will soon have a centre for the LGBTQ community. Manvendra Singh Gohil, erstwhile prince of Rajpipla princely state, revealed this at the recently held Delhi International Queer Theatre & Film Festival. The centre, he said, aims to provide economic and social empowerment to sexual minorities and offer skilled-based training so that they can earn a decent livelihood. “Gradually the gay community is trying not to succumb to the pressure to get married, but once people reveal their sexuality at home, their family members fail to understand and shun them. And since people in India are dependent on parents for financial and emotional needs until late youth, it leaves them with two options – either agree with the parents or be left without resources. I want the community to be independent,” said 52-year-old Gohil, who came out 11 years ago and faced a social boycott.The traumatic consequences of coming out that he faced is the reason Gohil wants to set up the community centre, which is also focused on providing social support.“When I came out in 2006, my own family disowned me and other royal families boycotted me. I see similar things happening to other people and they are left devastated.” Gohil, however, stated that he consciously decided to be on his own before he came out in public about his sexuality and advocates the same to youngsters.”Fortunately, I was on my own financially, and since we grew up with a nanny, I wasn’t very emotionally attached to my parents. But when they saw me doing well on my own and being making it to Oprah Winfrey’s show thrice and recently to Keeping Up With The Kardashians, they accepted me back. Now, the royal family wants selfies with me!,” chuckles Gohil, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Goodwill Ambassador.The community centre Gohil plans to set up would sprawl the 15,000-acre property he owns in Rajpipla and would offer a shelter home, training and workshops and also host motivational talks. A rudimentary form of the centre is already up and running in Rajpipla, with an inmate from New Jersey in residence, but Gohil is looking for funds and ideas to develop it further. “The structure is already there; it is on the banks of the Narmada in a very peaceful and non-polluted part of India. It runs entirely on solar energy and can accommodate about 10 people at present. The land is not an issue; the problem is resources and I am fundraising across the world. When money comes, I will build more homes but by the end of 2018, it will be functional and start housing people,” says Gohil who wants similar centres to be built across the country to create a strong network of the LGBTQ community.
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<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The LGBTQ community will be celebrating the pride month come January, and a ‘Pride Concert’ will be held in Mumbai this year to celebrate the occasion. This year, the Rainbow Voices Mumbai, a LGBTQ choir group from the city, has invited LGBTQ choir groups from across the World to perform at the event. The last day for accepting applications is November 30 and individuals from eight countries have already applied. The theme of the concert is ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’, based on a popular Hindi song of the 1980s which promotes unity in diversity.In October, the invitations via LGBTQ friendly organisations were sent out to different choir groups throughout the world. “We have received applications from UK, USA, France, Singapore, and other countries. We are hoping to have at least a dozen individual members from all over the World for the event that will be held on January 27 at G5A, in Kamala Mill Compound,” said Ashish Pandya, the spokesperson for Rainbow Voices Mumbai. The tickets will be priced between Rs 300-500 and to raise funds for the organising of the event, the group has posted an appeal online too.”This year we have invited individual members from LGBT choirs across the world to join us in our 2018 concert – ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara/Let our Voices Unite’. Our Goal for this performance is to create awareness about the issues faced by the LGBT community to find its identity in Modern India. With the transformative power of music we wish to imagine a future free of discrimination, oppression, ignorance and prejudice, and to encourage compassion and activism,” said Pandya.In January 2017, a pride concert was held at NCPA, which was attended by London’s Pink Singers, one of the longest LGBTQ choir group in Europe. Later, the Rainbow Voices Mumbai even did a concert with them and performed in London pride.
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