Published: 22nd June 2020
The British Council's Digital Pride Festival aims to celebrate diverse queer voices from India and the UK
Organised in partnership with The Queer Muslim Project, the initiative brings together various art forms by LGBTQIA+ artists from around the world
We’ve all resigned ourselves to the fact that this Pride Month, our rainbow flags sit by our side on our couches. As difficult as it is to imagine the queer world’s most boisterous celebrations being spent in quarantine, the key is to think bigger. And the British Council in partnership with The Queer Muslim Project has done just that with the Digital Pride Festival. Celebrating #PrideAtHome, it brings together extraordinary voices online from the queer art and cultural scene in India and the UK through film, dance, music and theatre to discuss and celebrate the spirit of inclusion.
The festival is a part of the #MoreFilmsForFreedom project commissioned by the British Council in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival and BFI NETWORK which offers international audiences the chance to watch queer-themed short films by Syrian, Palestinian and South African filmmakers from the comfort of their home from June to September. Kicked off on June 15, the #PrideAtHome will continue until June 28.
PRIDE MIND: The festival is a part of the #MoreFilmsForFreedom project
Jonathan Kennedy, Director of Arts for the British Council says, “In the COVID-19 lockdown, we have experienced isolation in different ways. During this challenging time, we hope the Digital Pride Festival #prideathome will unify many diverse communities. It’s fabulous to work with The Queer Muslim Project, who have brought an amazing range of artists, voices and art forms from India and UK on this digital platform.”
When we spoke to Rafiul Alom Rahman, Founder of The Queer Muslim Project and curator of the festival, he was preparing for June 21, World Music Day. As a celebration, the festival had premiered ‘A Rainbow Musical’, a synchronised musical performance by the Rainbow Voices Mumbai, India’s first and only LGBTQIA+ choir with 35 members from around the country.
Rafiul says, “What we are trying to do is to highlight queer art forms and artists. It has been a difficult year for the community. Not a lot of conversation is happening on queer art forms, so this has been a good opportunity for us. We are trying to capture a diverse range of art forms through this and trying to spotlight and celebrate voices in the community. We started with a Bollywood style Mudra performance and one week in, we’ve had a talk on gay night life culture in India by Kareem Khubchandini, Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dance, Performance Studies and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. So it’s truly as diverse as the community is!”
At a time when disease and politics have steeped the world in more darkness than we would like, this digital celebration of diversity and identity is sure to add a much-needed burst of colour back into our lives.
This Pride Month we're celebrating diversity in its truest, most leveling form by bringing to you stories of hope and great cheer from the LGBTQIA+ community from across India in our new series Matter of Pride. If you'd like to reach out to any of them or need help, reach out to us WhatsApp at +917358029990