Broadway to Bombay, a sponsored project of a non-profit organisation in the USA, Saturday conducted its first workshop in Gujarat here to “start the conversation around the LGBTQI community and thereby keep the momentum going around it.”
Among those who attended the workshop was Manvendra Singh Gohil, prince of Rajpipla in Gujarat and the first openly gay prince in the world. “Engaging in conversation to raise awareness and sensitising all — from grassroots-level workers to the legislators — is the key to effect change for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Qeer, Intersex) community in India,” he said. “Legislation is important and I admit there are a lot of challenges that remain after a legislation is put into effect, but it is our responsibility to continuously engage with both sides, legislators as well as the executive, administrative and every one around to raise the awareness,” he added.
Aimed at creating safe spaces for the LGBTQI community, the workshop engaged in dialogue on the topic of “What is it like to Come Out,” with many sharing their experiences of coming out. Gohil, who shared his story of coming out in March 2006, said, “It is important to break the hypocrisy in our society, especially now that Section 377 has been struck down.”
Anthony Giorgio and Mikel Dicus, American LGBTQ activists, have been working with Manvendra Gohil and his partner Duke DeAndre to realise Broadway to Bombay in India.
Giorgio said, “It is important that we create safe spaces in smaller towns now. Mumbai has been able to create safe spaces when it comes to the queer community in India.” The project, after Ahmedabad, is now headed to Rajpipla followed by Bharuch.
One, among the many challenges faced by Giorgio and Dicus, to bring the project to India, was, “We faced a lot of pushback from the desi (Indian) community in New York and New Jersey because they are very protective (of their idea of Indian culture),” noted Giorgio.