|(m) On the second day of “Rainbow Pride Week 2005”, June 21, the scene shifted from Calcutta to Chandannagar, erstwhile French colony and a bustling town today with a picturesque strand along river Hooghly. The “Rainbow Pride Walks” in the earlier years were limited to Calcutta. This was the first time a “Rainbow Pride” activity was organized outside Calcutta or any other major urban centre in India. It was also possibly the first time that a film festival made an attempt to provide visibility to LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues outside a metro city. SAATHII Calcutta teamed up with Amitié, Chandannagar, a friendship group for LGBT people in Hooghly and Howrah districts of West Bengal, to organize one day of “Siddhartha Gautam Film Festival 2005” at Nritya Gopal Smriti Mandir in Chandannagar.
Among the films screened were “Kinnor”, a documentary on Laundas – traditional male-to-female cross-dressers and transgender dancers from West Bengal and Bihar. These entertainers make a living out of performing at weddings and festivals in rural Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and also sell sex, often with violence and HIV as occupational hazards. The film was an initiative of the Amitié group, and watching it was a 100-strong audience that included local political leaders and administration officials with whom Amitié had built a good rapport.
In the picture (from left to right): Anis Ray Chaudhuri of Amitié, Pawan Dhall of SAATHII Calcutta and Rafiquel Haque Dowjah of Integration Society speak about the history of the Indian LGBT movement to provide a perspective to the “Rainbow Pride Week 2005” prior to the film screenings. Picture: Subhajit Pakira.
The film “Kinnor” is available for viewing with our reference library, and we can assist interested people in accessing copies . More details about the film can be seen here.