Hyderabad: Facing a motley group of about 30 people, Ashwini Kumar, a young gay man who runs a coaching institute in the city, recalled the day when he told his mother about his sexuality. Rejecting a marriage proposal that had come to him one evening, he told his mother that he was gay. His mother has not hugged him since. Ashwin was speaking at the first ever gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender culture meet in the city, Aks, organized by a group of young students and professionals.
The event is only the first step towards strengthening the community in the city, the organizers said. Unlike the usual tailor-made events, Aks organised at Anweshi, Centre for Womens’ Studies, opened up space to allow any possible way of confronting, discussing and even celebrating one’s sexuality. From poetry reading to exhibition of painting and photographs to performances and plays, Aks explored all ways of expressing one’s individuality.
There were participants from other metros too. Those for whom the city is a new experience said that such events help the less assertive among them to come out with their ideas on sexuality. “I am married and have two children but I am gay. While I have come out before my wife, not many people in Mumbai know of my sexuality. The gay scene in a city like Mumbai is more assertive and hence it is mostly limited to pride parades, but here in Hyderabad a person like me can have a safe space to interact and even exhibit my work,” said Murali, a 53-year-old writer and artist from Mumbai.
“The LGBT community in Hyderabad is not limited to an affluent group like in other cities. They are very active in terms of coming out with ideas and events and this does not happen elsewhere in the country,” said Shashank Tyagi, a photographer whose work was exhibited in the event. Another artist, Sanjay Ghosal from Kolkata too exhibited his painting on sexuality in the event.
The older generation of activists spoke of the trend encouragingly. “Urdu poetry and fiction of 1940s had subtly mentioned homosexuality. In Hyderabad which provides a space for every discourse, these youngsters have found a space to explore their sexuality too,” said Jameela Nishat, an activist and poet. Prof Hoshang Merchant, poet and senior faculty of Hyderabad Central University, and Pritam Chakravarthy, a playwright and actor, also participated in the meeting.
The young organizers are planning to conduct more such events. “We are also thinking of holding a pride parade. The city has not had a parade. Now that we have organised this event, we feel that we can organise such a parade,” said Sumita Dutta, a member of the community and an exchange student at University of Hyderabad. TOI