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The Sea And I: Notes On Queer Visibility In Bombay's Thriving Art Space

On 10 February, Gaysi Family curated a queer performative art showcase for the Mumbai Urban Arts Festival.

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Since December of last year, Mumbai Urban Art Festival (MUAF) has been making headlines for showcasing unique insights into the city’s coastal and urban culture. Co-organizers St+art India and Asian Paints have taken over the city with murals, installations, workshops, performances and more.

Mumbai's famous Sassoon Docks serve as the nerve centre of MUAF with the reigning theme being 'Between the sea and the city'.

This year's installment especially stands out because of the organizers' collaboration with Gaysi Family, a media platform spotlighting Southeast Asian queer narratives since 2008.

From gender play workshops for children to queering public washrooms; it's quite refreshing to see authentic representation of queerness taking center stage in the city's leading Art Festival.
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On 10 February, Gaysi Family curated a queer performative art showcase for the Mumbai Urban Arts Festival.

On 10 February, Gaysi Family curated a striking performative showcase for the MUAF. The theme for the evening was 'The Sea and I' as several queer artistes gathered together to artistically respond to the prompt.

The 90-minute showcase included everything from music, dance and poetry recitations to a captivating drag performance. But the highlight of the evening was queer visibility, in all its glory.

Queerness is still a taboo in India, with the LGBTQIA+ population scrambling for basic civil liberties. Seeing prolific artistes tap into their queerness to publicly express themselves is as breathtaking as it is crucial.

The evening's penultimate performance was a drag showcase by one of India's noteworthy drag kings, Mx Stallion (who uses he/they pronouns).

Adorned in cerulean blue from head to toe, they began by drawing parallels between the fluidity of the sea and their own identity - expressing themself through a combination of theatre, monologue and movement.

After his performance, The Quint caught up with Mx Stallion. Sharing insights into his "very personal piece", he says, "I did something different this time where I am talking to the sea and there is a conversation going on."

He adds, "It's written by me and is based on the kind of experiences I have had in life, especially as a queer person. It's about how I relate to the sea because the sea is fluid and I see myself as fluid, as well."

On 10 February, Gaysi Family curated a queer performative art showcase for the Mumbai Urban Arts Festival.

Drag King, Mx Stallion in 'The Sea And I: A Performative Exploration Of Identity In The City'.

(Photo Courtesy: Wanda Amber Hendricks)

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Speaking about sharing the stage with other queer artistes, Stallion responds, "It was beautiful. Honestly, doing something like this at this venue was definitely a different experience altogether. Knowing that I am sharing space with other queer people always hypes me up because the family is here".

Sakshi Juneja, the co-founder of Gaysi Family also chimes in to share why it "feels nice to be a part of such a mainstream art space".

It's amazing to see queer voices, visuals and all sorts of queer feels in street art. We've received amazing support from them (the organizers) and we, at Gaysi, have done our best to put in as much and as many (queer artistes) out there.
SAKSHI JUNEJA, CO-FOUNDER OF GAYSI FAMILY

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Topics:  Mumbai   Bombay   LGBTQ+ 

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