Rainbow Lit Fest: A Much-Needed Celebration of Queer Artists

As the LGBTQIA+ community continues to protest against the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, it is also gearing up for the upcoming first-of-its kind Rainbow lit Fest – Queer & Inclusive.

The festival, the organisers say, will be an amalgamation of “the alternative and mainstream”, where over 75 exponents from the world of prose, art, music, dance and cinema will share a common space on December 7 and 8 at the Gulmohar Park Club, New Delhi.

The two-day festival is the brainchild of former journalist, communications consultant and LGBTQIA+ activist Sharif D. Rangnekar, the author of Straight to Normal – My Life As Gay Man. Making up the second half of the organising team is Pankaj Malhotra, the managing director (India, South Asia and CIS region) for Pulse Universal – a global event firm.

An eight-member advisory committee also worked toward making the event a reality. The members include Anjali Gopalan (founder, Naz Foundation), Apurva Asrani (national award-winning filmmakers, film editor and screenwriter), Maya Sharma (author and activist), Parmesh Shahani (founder, Godrej India Culture Lab), Saleem Kidwai (historian and queer activist), Dr. Saif Mahmood (author, activist and lawyer), Vivek Mansukhani (educationist and theatre personality), and Zainab Patel (manager, KPMG).

Apart from those on the committee, several acclaimed authors, filmmakers and activists will be addressing the fest, including Devdutt Pattnaik, Nandita Das, Anuradha Sengupta, Gazal Dhaliwal, Meneka Guruswamy, Shubha Mudgal, Supriya Sule and so on.

According to the organisers, the festival is unique for the choice of location as well as its inclusive belief system. While Gulmohar Park, they say, witnessed the rise of the gay movement at the Naz foundation’s office in 2001, the art and literature scheduled to be showcased at the event aims to “speak for as many people as possible”.

“The lit fest essentially aims to engage with the truths of identity and diversity, and while drawing on the distinctions, we wish to address the common ground of humanity. There is no better way than literature, art, poetry, music and talk to bring such topics to life,” said Rangnekar.

Over the two days, artists will screen some of the iconic films such as U for Usha by Rohan Kanwade, Tanuja Chandra’s Monsoon Date (starring Konkana Sen Sharma), I Am Sanjo by Jijo Kuriakose and the silent LGBT film Sisak by Faraz Ansari. There will also be dance performances, a puppet show, a drag act and three music performances by the traditional Nizami Brothers and so on.

Featured image credit: Rainbow Lit Fest/Facebook