Nirangal: Queer Performances and Art Contest, Besant Nagar, Sat-Sun June 19-20. Shakthi Resource Center and MP/Orinam.net
LGBT groups have historically used cultural performance, fine arts and literature as a means for articulating their vision, rights, aspirations and apprehensions, and for drawing attention to the universality of the human experience. Whether through queering traditional forms or forging new and hybrid forms of the arts, cultural practitioners from the LGBT communities embody a diversity of expression and performance.
Despite recent successes in the LGBT movement in India, such as the Delhi High Court decision of 2009 that decriminalized consensual sexual expression among adults of the same sex, an increasingly conservative section of the mainstream public tends to view alternate sexualities and genders as alien to Indian culture and as products of Western influence. A strong element of the backlash to the Naz decision comes from self-proclaimed upholders of Indian tradition who use their prejudices to feed the anxieties of India’s growing middle-class and proclaim the alleged cultural inappropriateness of discussing or according rights to LGBT people.
Nirangal aims to challenge these homophobic-xenophobic notions of alternate sexuality and genders by showcasing a variety of LGBT artists and their performance work through a two-day event on the weekend of June 19-20, 2010. It is second annual event of its kind, and is part of a larger series of Chennai Rainbow Pride month events that aim to raise the visibility of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people (LGBT) and issues in the city.
The event will be inaugurated by well-known Tamil film and theatre actor, Rohini.
Viduthalai Kalai Kuzhu is a dance and music troupe formed by underprivileged transgender women working with Sahodari Foundation. Kalki’s long cherished dream of an all-transwomen performance group has become a reality, thanks to a lot of hard work on their part and support from the Directorate of Social Welfare, Government of Tamil Nadu. Performing in the Republic Day Parade in Chennai was a recent highpoint in Viduthalai Kalai Kuzhu’s work.
Sahodaran, founded in 1998, is one of the oldest and most successful male sexual health projects in Chennai. Its vibrant performing group, Sahodaran uses dance, music and theater to raise awareness of health needs and human rights of Men who have Sex with Men (MSM)
J Taejha Susheel is a visible and vocal member of the LGBT community in Chennai. He is a trained Bharatanatyam performer and choreographer and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Polymer Technology at Anna University, Chennai.
Lotus is one of the few groups working with MSM in rural and semi-urban spaces, that is entirely community-owned and managed. With a recent grant from the World Bank, Lotus has developed a theatre
program in and around its base in Tamil Nadu. The program uses cultural performance to change stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes towards MSM and transgender persons. The program has successfully sensitized local self-governing bodies (Panchayati Raj institutions) on issues of alternate gender and sexuality. It has motivated Panchayat leaders to ensure lives free of harassment for the local MSM and TG populations, and provide non-legal avenues for them to seek redressal when faced with harassment or violence, in the focal villages of Tanjavur and Tiruvarur districts in Tamil Nadu.
Sumathi is a queer activist and a trained Hindustani vocalist based in Bangalore. She has travelled and performed widely. One of her recent productions, Sanchari (2009), a play that tells the story of raga
Kalyani, was performed to critical acclaim before audiences in Chennai and Bangalore.
L. Ramakrishnan is a trained Carnatic veena artist based in Chennai. He has helped start up such collectives as Trikone-Tejas (Austin, Texas) and the Orinam.net portal,and is also involved in training, research and advocacy in public health and HIV/AIDS.
Kanavin Kuzhanthaikal (Dream’s Children) is a new theatre group that brings together Srijith Sundaram (theatre activist), Sankari (Sangama, Chennai), Shakthi Nataraj and Aniruddhan Vasudevan (The Shakti
Resource Center) to present a new theatre work based on contemporary Tamil poetry.
Art Contest: Express yourself with painting, kolam and sketches on June 19, 03:00 pm onwards. Charcoal, paint and other supplies will be available to you at the venue. The results will be on display through the weekend.
The Shakti Resource Center is a non-profit organization working towards creating new models of engaging with gender and sexuality. Shakti’s current work is towards setting up support services for LGBT
people, and a resource center for gender, sexuality, sexual health and reproductive health and rights.
Orinam.net is a bilingual resource website (Tamil and English) with information on alternate sexualities and genders. It is a non-profit resource created and maintained by members of MP, a support group for
LGBT people connected to Chennai that was established in 2003. Do visit www.orinam.net and support our Campaign for Open Minds!
Aniruddhan Vasudevan: 9884017695 | firstname.lastname@example.org
L Ramakrishnan: 9841476101 | LRamakrishnan.email@example.com