Stride With Pride: Striding into Week 1
Across the globe, pride month is celebrated during June every year, in order to honour the Stonewall riots which took place during June, 1969. Although today, we may not always remember this significance, celebrating pride month is more important than you may think. Apart from having immense historical significance, pride celebrations are a space where the community is sure to feel safe, given that their comfort and safety tends to be compromised in so many other areas, often including their own home. Today, with the rapid spread of coronavirus, these celebrations and parades have been put on hold. In order to overcome this obstacle, Safecity and The Jimme Foundation have organised a month-long variety of online events including knowledge cafes, safe circles, movie review sessions and tweet chats with significant personalities from the Indian LGBTQ+ community including activists, directors, drag kings and other public figures.
Stride With Pride began on 2nd June with a Knowledge Café, hosted by Harish Iyer with Simran Shaikh as the guest. This session shed light on ‘Queer Rights from a Hijra Perspective.’ Simran Shaikh, a prominent Transgender Human Rights activist, gave us insight into the experiences of the Indian trans community. She spoke about a range of experiences – from the personal journey of realisation and coming out, to the prejudices within Indian legislation towards the trans community. A key learning I received from this session was that when a society mistreats, rejects and harms a community, their conditioning causes them to behave in an almost reciprocal manner. This can also lead to stereotypes being formed. The example that was discussed was the stereotype of the hijra community being angry or aggressive. Essentially, Simran explained that it’s difficult to manifest a polite and well-mannered person when that person has been treated with no compassion and care. This is also why stereotypes need to be actively understood and then unlearned.
As an extension of Safecity’s “Feminism in Reel Life” campaign, during pride month, movie reviews were discussed under the alternate title, “Queer Activism in Reel Life.” The first guest was Sridhar Rangayan, the director of the documentary ‘Breaking Free.’ This film documents the human rights violations that the Indian LGTBQ community has faced. Rangayan discussed his journey of becoming a director, his experience of self-discovery as well as the importance of a supportive group of friends. He emphasised that one must find support in others during the coming out journey since your own family can often be closed minded as well. Rangayan spoke about the significance of coming out and its meaning for yourself – It is important to come out at some point to be true to yourself.
Stride With Pride started off with a pair of insightful and pertinent online sessions. In the coming weeks, discussions with even more activists, filmmakers, content creators and more will be taking place. You will be sure to find something that resonates with you from each session.
– Nitya Nair
The views expressed are that of the writer.