The Kolkata Pride Month 2022 celebrations that started last month are already underway across the city with great gusto and enthusiasm. Various events across the city being held every week since November 17, are adding to the celebratory spirit. With four events down from the Kolkata Pride Month Calendar as collated by kolkatapride.org — Dialogues film festival, Pride Month Fundraiser Party, Trans and Queer Health Camp, Trans and Queer Sports and Parents Meet and Gender Mela — the community members are gearing up for the rest of the events. Events next week include poster-making and sloganeering workshop, Pink Pride Ball and the highlight event of the calendar, the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk. The walk will take place from Park Circus to the end of Park Street. The stretch will be decked out with rainbow flags and rainbow-coloured pedestrian crossings in the coming week. Adding to this, kolkatapride.org’s ‘Inclusive Spaces in the City’ initiative will have Kolkata Pride merchandise and flag display at various cafes and institutions across the city.
Dialogues: Calcutta International Lgbtqia+ Film And Video Festival
The Pride Month celebrations in Kolkata started with the Dialogues film festival on November 17 as a part of the events collated by kolkatapride.org. The four-day walk-in film festival held at Indira Cinema in Bhawanipore screened independent films from all over the world and had panel discussions on various topics based on the films screened and topics pertinent to the trans and queer community. Apart from screening queer films, films made from a queer lens were also screened. The films screened also emphasised on migration and displacement, inclusivity, gender transitioning, social injustices and the intersection of various social realities in a trans and queer person’s life. Toby Ashraf from Berlin curated a special screening of German films at the festival.
Films screened at the festival include Zuhur’s Daughters, a film from Germany; Habitat from Myanmar; How the Room Felt from Georgia; films from India like Midnight Travellers, Unlimited Girls. Films like Behind the Tin Sheets and Flee were based on migration, Laila Majnu on coming out, Conversation with Putul and Chandrima on limits of desire, Trans Kashmir on nationalism and queerness. Oscar entry film of this year, Joyland, was screened as the closing film for a packed hall. (Left) The Dialogues poster outside Indira Cinema and (right) a snapshot from the panel discussion between film-maker Sanjoy Nag, film-maker Sankhajit Biswas and the cast and crew of Beyond the Blues, a film by Debolina Majumdar.
As a part of the overall fundraising effort during the Pride Month celebrations in Kolkata, a Kolkata Pride merchandise corner was set up at Indira Cinema hall in Bhawanipore. The stall displayed merchandise featuring the Kolkata Pride logo designed by architect and artiste Aniket Rathore.
Toby Ashraf, a freelance curator, moderator and film critic based in Berlin, curated the German film screening section at the festival. “The German films of this year’s programme don’t only re-imagine and shake up fixed notions of migration but also question the notion of German-ness itself, if such a thing ever existed. The languages spoken here are Arabic, Farsi, Swedish, Macedonian, Spanish, French, English, German and East German. The connections to Germany are manifold and complicated, in fact complicating the idea of what a German film is as much as they do the idea of what migration might mean,” said Toby Ashraf, in his curator’s note.
“For us, what we like about this festival is that everyone is very accepting. The films not only entertained us but also informed us about so many things pertinent to our community,” said Shayani and Rituraj Halder.
“This film festival is important as a part of the Pride Month celebrations because we don’t get an opportunity to hear these voices every day. It is helping to raise awareness. People from every community need to come and see to become aware about the trans and queer community and not act ignorantly. The two films that I saw communicated the rights of trans people to live in the society like any other person from any other community,” said Abhijit Mallick.
“The film festival this year focussed on diverse topics like migration, political situation in India through the eyes of gender minority communities. The panel discussions gave us an idea about what the actors and directors had in their mind. It helped us to understand their thought process and perspective about the topics they discussed in their work,” said Polo.
Trans And Queer Health Camp
The Trans and Queer Health Camp held at Ahindra Mancho, Alipore, was a one-day event for discussing health-related problems and solutions for the queer and trans community in particular and for the public in general. Apart from spreading awareness through presentations, seminars and discussions, health check-up opportunity was also available at the venue. Discussions and presentations were held on topics like Queer Health Crisis in India, Mental Health, Chemsex, Gender Expression and Transition, STIs and STDs. (Down) Souvik Ghosh, co-organiser of the health camp, with his years of experience in the government health sector talked about ICTC and government health schemes. (Up) Kishan Ojha discussed about how Prep and Pep are ground-breaking discoveries in HIV healthcare.
Pride Month fundraiser party
The Pride Month Fundraiser Party hosted at The Lalit Great Eastern on November 19, the second event on the Kolkata Pride Month calendar, brought to the city the much-loved, party-fave Kitty Su Pop’s Up at Wilson’s, the classic pub at The Lalit. A host of performances by some of our country’s best drag performers and DJs had set the peppy mood for the evening for the guests.
DJ Antara from Bangalore set the mood at the party by playing mixes based on her signature genre, EDM.
Drag Queen diva of the Drag performance world, Lush Monsoon mesmerised the audience with her performance.
Drag Queen Zeesh’s performance was based on animal instincts.
Making an appearance from within the audience members before taking the stage, the idea behind Drag King Naaz B’s performance was to make one’s presence felt.
L-R)Ayushman Mitra and Dev at the Pride Month Fundraiser Party at The Lalit Great Eastern
Trans and Queer Parents’ and Sports Meet
On December 4, the ground of Maddox Square was abuzz with the spirit of competition and community at the Trans and Queer Parents’ and Sports Meet. Back in town for its second edition as a part of the Kolkata Pride Month celebrations, the sports meet was a fun affair with a variety of games for both the members of the Pride community and their parents. Adding to the carnivalesque spirit were the stalls displaying interesting handmade merchandise and serving delicious food. (In picture) A group of parents posed with the pride flag at the event, an annual networking opportunity for them.
The skipping race, held in two rounds, was a fun one. The balancing race saw parents trying to balance an earthen pot on their heads while moving forward to reach the finishing line. The enthusiasm and energy of the parents who took part was admirable.
We spotted these cute handmade items at the various stalls set up at the meet. The hand-painted rolling pins make pretty wall hangers, elevating the aesthetic of any space. The hand-painted scarves featured quirky motifs. Other items included intricately crafted jewellery boxes, Kolkata Pride merchandise and more.
(L-R) Aditya Monhot, Anindya Hajra, Navonil Das (Nil), and Bhaskar Das, the core team of kolkatapride.org. “We wanted to create a space where people can come and participate with each other. This time, we also included the entrepreneurial side to it with the stalls. So, it is taking its own shape. In the beginning, it was done to create visibility and inclusion. If they cannot come to the Pride Walk or the Pride Ball, they can still come to this. When there are so many different spaces, people can choose where they want to go. Parents of our community had their own fights and journeys, and today, when they stand and participate with other parents it is an opportunity for them to come together, too,” said Nil.
“This is a one-of-a-kind event in the city. It is amazing to have it because people can get together and connect. It is really great having parents as well because while children are queer, when their parents identify that, they too get marginalised due to the stigmas in our society. So, to have them come together and join us, it is a huge thing,” said Archee Roy.
“I was really excited to participate in the race and I am glad I could bag the second position. The atmosphere is really great at this meet, it is really enjoyable and I am glad I came here,” said Pripti Singh. She is seen here with her mother who also participated in the games and said, “This is my first time here and it is really great. It is not about winning or losing, but giving in to the spirit of competition.”