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June is dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community as Pride month. Here’s a look at whether they have been given adequate representation on screen

Sheetal

“If Harry Potter taught us anything,
it’s that no one should live in a closet” ndash;JK Rowling

So, we celebrate the coming-out stories of LGBTQIA+ members in June—called the Pride month. We talk to LGBTQIA+ members from different walks of life as well as artistes from the film industry to know their opinion on whether Indian films and series made in the past few years are giving the right representation to the community. They also share whether the Indian content is furthering the cause of LGBT community as compared with that abroad.

Badhaai do

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

With open arms

Another gay make-up artiste, Coco Ballucci, who hails from Kolkata, has found a second home in Punjab while working in Pollywood industry. “I have been accepted by the industry with open arms and never in my profession I was targeted or made fun for being gay,” beams Coco.

Competition in community

India’s first transgender model and actress, Nikkiey Chawla also thinks the representation of gay, lesbian and transgender characters has increased, “Rewinding back to 15 years, we have seen just Bobby Darling in films and she had got only funny characters to portray, which wasn’t representing us LGBTQ members in good light. But in last five years, lots of characters are representing our stories. Be it as a lead or supporting actors, but these are well written parts with in-depth study. A lot of roles have been offered to me and my brothers and sisters from the community, for film Kaalakaandi, web series Made in Heaven’s Season 2 and upcoming Netflix series Rana Naidu, which is a good sign for the community.”

Mature amp; real

Mozez Singh, director of the series Human, talks about educating the masses on the meaning of ‘tolerance’. He shares, “Without practising tolerance the world will become a dark and bitter place. To tolerate each other, no matter what our sexual preferences are, to live and let live is the only way forward for humanity.”

While he faces no challenges in the film industry because of being a LGBTQ member, Mozez talks about the evolution of gay, lesbian and transgender characters on screen, “I think Indian films and web series have become way more inclusive than ever before. There has definitely been a huge shift in LGBTQ representation and for the better. I feel we achieved this with my own show Human. In series like Made in Heaven and films like Badhaai Do the LGBTQ themes have been handled beautifully.”

City scape

Tricity’s LGBT activist and transwoman, Dhananjay Chauhan shares, “By and large, I believe documentaries have been able to do more justice to LGBTQIA+ community. About actors portraying LGBTQIA+ characters, I believe it’s better to let real ones act on screen. While films like Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui were able to create a stir, others like Laxmii again pull us down, so it’s hard to comment. Also, I believe a lot of stuff has been made on gay, lesbians and transwoman but there is nothing on transman yet.” A docu-drama, Admitted, made on Dhananjay’s life, has won the award for Best Documentary Film in the Mumbai International Film Festival, 2022.

Pain beyond imagination

Mirzapur actress Shweta Tripathi Sharma believes more than filmmakers bringing scripts with LGBTQIA+ characters, it has more to do with us as a society and as an audience. “The sooner we start to accept people for who they are and what they are, the sooner we start appreciating people and stories being made on them. One cannot imagine the pain of being born in a body which they don’t relate to.”

Winds of change

If Bollywood has taken LGBTQIA+ community’s representation seriously with films like Badhaai Do, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, OTT has time and again normalised these characters through web series, as the characters are well etched over the numerous seasons and episodes. Made In Heaven, Sex Education, Riverdale and the latest being Spanish series Intimidad, known world over as Intimacy, are all series that have normalised the terminologies of LGBTQIA+ community. These have also given an honest representation to people and their sexual preferences, rather than treating it as a trivial detail in the script. Intimacy, a thought-provoking series, has brought in a fresh perspective where it throws light on what should be public and what private. It also talks about same-sex relationship in one of the lead character’s story. After all, being gay or lesbian is a choice and it should not be anybody’s business to accept or reject the fact.

Jacqueline Fernandez celebrates ‘Pride Yoga Day’

Jacqueline Fernandez celebrated ‘International Yoga Day’ as ‘Pride Yoga Day’ on June 21. The actress was spotted at Mumbai’s R-City Mall where an event was put up by her NGO, YOLO Foundation. The ‘Pride Yoga Day’ was aimed at supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and promote their social inclusion, while raising awareness about the value of yoga, positivity and their overall holistic wellness. Hosted by comedian and writer Madhvendra Singh, the event began with a panel discussion. Jacqueline then conducted a Yoga session, followed by a stand-up act by Madhvendra Singh. After this, the floor was open for an open mic wherein members of the LGBTQIA+ community shared their life stories.

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