Mumbai Pride Event ‘Queeroes’ Celebrates 4 Queer Heroes
The Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Month has begun with a lot of fanfare. One of the important events, debuting this month is Queeroes, an event that celebrates Queer Heroes. 6 Degrees, an LGBTIQ growth network seeks to build the equality conversation in the corporate space to encourage inclusive policies in corporate houses while also ensuring that queer run businesses are championed.
In its debut year, 6 Degrees is recognising four queer heroes for their contribution to the community on 18 January at an event called Queeroes. These ‘Queeroes’ come from different walks of life and have walked the talk in terms of being an example for equality.
Some have inspired us by sharing their stories and some have pushed the envelope by standing up for the cause when it was needed the most.
This event, conducted in the Mumbai Pride Month promises to be a regular affair every year. Here are the queer heroes or ‘Queeroes’ who are being recognised.
Siddhant More, a Transman Who Gave the Cause a Face and a Name
Sonal was a regular girl you would meet in the bylanes of Mumbai. But there was something different about her. Sonal was fond of women, but didn't quite identify as a lesbian. She had the body of a woman, she didn’t identify with that body either. After a long battle with her own self, she confirmed that she wanted to be a man.
In 2014, Sonal went through a sexual reassignment surgery. And a couple of years before that, Sonal gave herself a name and a gender – She is he and his name is Siddhant More. Trans men are those who transition from female to male. They are the least spoken about even in the LGBTIQ spectrum.
There are comparatively very few representations of the trans men community and that’s why Siddhant’s contribution by the simple yet courageous act of sharing his story is that important.
Siddhant has broken ground ever since he came out as a trans man. He has found support from his boss as well as his family. He lives his life in the way a heterosexual man would. His story continues to inspire several trans persons, especially those who transition from female to male.
Vivek Patil : The Silent, on the Ground Cause Champion
Vivek Patil is a grassroot worker who works on ground to get permissions for the Mumbai Pride. He works with The Humsafar Trust, an organisation that has been furthering the cause of equality for the LGBT community through pathbreaking interventions in research, health and advocacy. Every time he visits the police station, he ensures that he engages in conversations beyond the seeking of permissions.
He has sparked talks about the importance of safe sexual practices and the need for the use of condoms. He has never shied away from sharing that he is a part of the LGBTIQ community and that he identifies as a gay man.
History is often written by those in positions of power and there is a chance that the ones closest to the ground are lost in the din of hierarchy.
Queeroes : The “One of Us” Awards
Rohini Ramnathan, “Queers Are Us”.
Rohini, or ‘Ro’ as she is fondly called is a regular host for all things queer. She is a radio jockey with Radio Nasha and has constantly worked towards educating the masses and the classes about LGBTIQ rights.
Be it inviting LGBTIQ persons to her radio show and politely yet strongly bringing forth the point that love is beyond gender and that ‘love’ is ‘love’ irrespective of genders, or underscoring that point by participating in events without giving it the hue of a CSR activity, she has shouldered the mantle effectively.
She has been a close and staunch ally. Whether it is hosting Dirty Talk or Kashish, the biggest queer film festival in the country or Mr Gay World India headed by Sushant Divgikar, or even speaking at events which are less popular or with fewer attendees, she elicits the same level of empathy and understanding of the queer community.
She epitomises the fact that you dont need to be queer to understand what it feels like to be queer. Empathy transcends everything, but here most importantly – it transcends genders and sexualities.
Mangala Aher, “Mother Cares for the Child Not the Gender of the Child.”
Mangala Aher is the mother of transgender activist Abheena Aher. Mangala is a professional artist who stood by her son Abhijeet, when he decided to transition and become a woman called Abheena. She again stood by Abheena when she decided to become a part of the Hijra community.
Mangala Aher, an astute dancer, has been involved with the Dancing Queens, a group of dancers who are majorly trans women from the Hijra community, right from the time of it’s inception. It has not been an easy journey of acceptance for Mangala. Check out the video of her dancing, above.
In an interview to National Public Radio, Abheena shared that she was misguided by a psychiatrist who recommended that she sit in a dark room. Mangala also took Abheena to a lot of saints and temples in an attempt to find some cure.
It has been a whole 360 degree turn for Mangala; today, she is one of the most steadfast allies for the LGBTIQ community.
She offers unconditional support to people across the sexuality and gender spectrum and is a part of Sweekar – a group by parents of LGBTIQ persons primarily supporting other parents of LGBTIQ persons. She is a beacon of hope and a family to turn to for many LGBTIQ persons.
The event will also have the launch of the book, I Am Divine And So Are You, a book that speaks about queer identities and sexualities in different faiths. The Queeroes event will comprise a discussion between Jerry Johnson, the editor of the book and Devdutt Patnaik.
(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)
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