A story of love, loss and second chances by Nikita Singh, releasing this Valentine’s Day.
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Gaysi Family provides a forum for gay desis who have something to say. With innovative ideas to reach out to what is considered a small community, the Gaysi Family team is shattering myths and making voices heard. We spoke to Broom , and took a peek into their journey!
Tell us about the origins of Gaysi. What pushed you to start a community like Gaysi?
GF: In 2008 as MJ (in Mumbai) and Broom (in England) were coming to terms with their sexuality, they realized that it was very difficult to find other queer Indian women, someone who they could identify with based on their sexuality as well as culture. Queer spaces and events didn’t really exist at that time, and the ones that did were behind closed doors. Even the internet had a dearth of this representation. So Gaysi Family was initially founded as a space for any women identifying with the queer Indian identity to meet other such people and share their stories and experiences.
Why a blog? For a closeted person, the biggest fear is being found out. The internet provides a safe place for people to explore, read and share stories from the privacy of their laptops, computers, phones etc.
Describe the journey of the Gaysi team. How many people did you start with, and where are you now?
GF: The original team was MJ, Broom, and 2 other contributors. Within a short time of starting the blog, we realized that were people reading from different parts of the world. We publish every alternate day, and have a core team now of 6, and 12 other contributors from around the globe.
In the 6 years we have been around, we have grown from being just a blog to hosting offline events like open mics, trivia nights, film screenings and book readings. We have also published 2 copies of out magazine called The Gaysi Zine. The latest edition will be published in October!
What sort of response has Gaysi gotten over the years? What kind of engagement do you have with supporters and opponents? Is there an experience you would like to share?
GF: Gaysi Family has been very well received by all sects of the community as we have tried our best to involve different parts of it. The Gaysi events as well have been extremely well-received and are now some of the most anticipated evenings. People recognise us as not only a queer space but also a space which exists to breed and inspire creativity through the spoken, written, and visual medium.
What stories are most popular at Gaysi? Do you see a recurring theme that perhaps indicates an area where most of the community struggles?
GF: The most popular stories on our blog still remain the personal pieces. These stories allow for readers to see a reflection of themselves in someone else story, and thus connects them on some level. Personally, the one part of the community which we feel is least talked about, here in India, is the female to male transgender one, and something we have been trying hard to address for some time. There are limited voices which we are trying to bring to light.
Personally, the one part of the community which we feel is least talked about, here in India, is the female to male transgender one, and something we have been trying hard to address for some time.
What is a message you’d like to send out to lesbian and bi women, who are perhaps more marginalised than gay men in our society?
GF: I would ask them to stand up and be fearless about their identity. As long as we stay quiet, we will continue to be marginalized. Only when we sensitize and fight for our rights will be taken seriously. We can’t expect others to fight our battles for us.
Could you please share an experience that made you feel like being part of Gaysi was worth it all?
GF: Our events serve two main purposes: first is to sensitize and create awareness, and the second is to create a space where queer and non queer folks alike can come together in a creative space. After one of our larger events (over 300 people), we had one of the waiting staff of the restaurant walk up to us and tell us about how he had only heard about gay people and never really met them. He was honored to have been a part of our event and having learned about our community.
For us it felt like we had changed the misconceptions of one mind, which hopefully can influence another mind in his own time. It’s unexpected reactions like this which inspire us to continue doing what we do.
How can our readers support the fight against section 377? Are there any Indian organisations you’re particularly impressed with, or any avenues to donate to?
GF: While the fight for Section 377 does require funds, what’s more important is to create awareness and make sure that our friends and family members are doing their small part in fighting the cause. The louder this topic is, the more support it grows, the more the pressure on the supreme court and political parties to realize how big of a vote bank we actually are.
Right now we are being discriminated on the basis of being a “minisclue minority”. Truth is no matter how large or small the population of a minority is, these are basic human rights, and it’s the responsibility of every citizen to stand by the basic human rights.
What’s in store for Gaysi in the future?
The Gaysi Zine, Volume 3! We have been working really hard on it and we know we will outdo ourselves yet again. This is also a long-term adventure that we are most kicked about. Other than that, we have recently started a YouTube channel which we are hoping to grow with time.
Madam Curious. When I'm not studying Economics, Politics or History, I read, write, and
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