Equality, Love, Life and Belonging Defined The Rainbow Lit Fest – Queer and Inclusive

Pannelists at RLF

New Delhi, December 13th, 2023: Unraveling queer histories, acknowledging the present realities of queer lives, and expressing a desire for a hopeful and inclusive future, the latest edition of the Rainbow Lit Fest – Queer and Inclusive took place in the capital on December 9th and 10th. It included over 20 hours of programming, featuring more than 70 speakers and performers who came from different parts of India and the world – from Imphal, Manipur to New York, USA. Held yet again at the iconic Gulmohar Park Club, the festival had a footfall of over 700 people each day.

Day one began with spotlight sessions featuring speakers like Jaydeep Sarkar, Saurabh Kirpal, Alankrita Shrivastava and Ankur Paliwal, among others. Speaking of queer representation on screen, Jaydeep Sarkar, ad-film maker, Director, maker of Rainbow Rishta expressed, “I want cis-het actors to perform queer roles and queer actors to play straight roles! The idea is to pull the craft of cinema out of the ‘othering’ zone.” The director also shared his desire to be seen more than as a ‘gay filmmaker’ – “I am more than my [sexual] orientation, judge me by my craft!” he said.

The invigorating conversations continued on day two of the fest, with panelists Kalki Koechlin, Seema Anand, Eric Chopra, Mona Ambegaonkar, Hoshang Merchant and Rituparna Borah bringing in their diverse and unique perspectives. Speaking at the Festival, actor and sustainability advocate, Kalki Koechlin said, “It is everybody’s right to be loved and to be free to love. It’s really important to know that we’re talking about human rights, and we are all human.” In many ways, the iconic poet and gay voice, born in 1947, Hoshang Merchant said that there was no way he’d be anyone else irrespective of the painful yet triumphant journey he has had. The festival concluded on an educational and entertaining note, complete with movie screenings, a play, and music, dance and drag performances that brought the evenings alive.

Saurabh Kirpal, Senior High Court Advocate said “The optics of the 377 movement was that it began a conversation. The fact that YouTube was screening the marriage equality hearings to houses all over India shows that the conversation has begun. I expect and hope that in the next few years, the judges will rule with us rather than against us.”

Priyakanta Laishram, a queer Manipuri filmmaker, in conversation with Ankur Paliwal said, “The kind of people you share your existence with makes a lot of difference in the way you see the world and how you treat yourself.”

Nitin Mantri, Regional Executive Managing Director (APAC), WE Communications, and Group CEO, Avian WE, said, “As a dedicated partner of the Rainbow Lit Festival since its inception in 2019, Avian WE proudly upholds its unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion. We firmly believe in the transformative power of communications to drive impactful change. Together, we weave powerful narratives about diversity, challenge the status quo and leverage our collective influence to create a future where every voice is heard, every perspective is valued, and every individual thrives.”

Sharif D. Rangnekar, Festival Director, Rainbow Lit Fest said, “As we wrap up another edition of the Rainbow Lit Fest—Queer and Inclusive on a hopeful note, let us carry forward the voices we’ve heard, the stories we’ve shared, and the connections we’ve forged to build an inclusive future for the community. The need for more diverse and authentic queer narratives in literature, cinema and beyond is unquestionable. So, we at the Rainbow Lit Fest and Rainbow Awards will carry on our pursuit of love, equality and belonging.”

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