The seven colours of the rainbow floated at Kondapur in Hyderabad on Saturday, 15 October. The occasion was the Satrangi Mela, a queer festival in Hyderabad.
The festival in the city of pearls brought together entrepreneurs, artists, and solo performers, including some from the LGBTQIA community.
Some of the queer entrepreneurs based in Hyderabad were trans clothier Nagma Ahmed (name changed) and graphic designer of brand identities Debbie Das.
The event at WeWork, Kondapur, took place a month ahead of the pride parade in Hyderabad (an outdoor event for the LGBTQIA community), scheduled on 13 November.
Wide range of work on sale
At the fest, entrepreneurs placed their work on sale in around 30 stalls.
These were designed products such as jewellery, lamps, artwork, candles, badges, clothes, and posters.
The eight-hour-long gathering also had open mic sessions (singing, poetry, and others) and performances by queer artists.
“We have organised it to provide a physical space to the members of the community where they can be themselves and be happy about who they are. It is also an opportunity for community members to take part in free-of-cost events,” Jayant aka Jojo, who co-founded the non-profit Queer Nilayam in July 2021, told South First.
Jojo said the proceeds would go to the queer artists. “It is the first time that performers would receive financial support through the Hyderabad festival,” he said.
After publishing the initial edition of Telangana’s first e-magazine for the community, Queernama, in June 2021, Queer Nilayam is all set to bring out the second edition on 30 October.
Each edition features 15 queer entrepreneurs.
The audience in Hyderabad was eagerly seen waiting on their toes for evening solo performances from some renowned queer artists.
They included drag queens Patruni Sastry (Hyderabad’s first) and Khemaya aka Ayan Patra (Odisha’s first), South India’s first male belly dancer Sravan Telu, and a biology teacher-cum-trained kathak dancer Smitin Bhosale.
Performing on O Ri Chiraiya sung by Swanand Kirkire with a doll depicting a newborn, Sastry told South First, “I was throwing light on the birth of an intersex person. It goes against the conventions of society, which expects them to be born as a male or a female.”
While Smitin performed as the Bollywood track Saiyaan by Kailash Kher was played, Khemaya entertained people amid a mix of British theatre and Indian Bollywood songs.
Telu, who performed amidst fusion and drum solo songs, is an instructor and choreographer at the Hyderabad-based RAQSology (Raqsa means dance in Arabic), which is a school of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) belly dance movement.
“In our society, it is thought that belly dance is only for women. I wanted to break barriers. It is anybody’s dance irrespective of their gender,” Telu told South First.
Related: LGBTQIA+ portrayal in Tamil cinema, Pa Ranjith’s Natchathiram Nagargiradhu is a milestone
‘Need more such queer festivals in Hyderabad’
Vanitha Lingala, a resident of Hyderabad who attended the queer festival accompanied by her husband and son, told South First,” As a human, we generally accept the common genders but there are many others too. They need acceptance from society and I would like to teach my child the same.”
Marle Mueller Hansen, a PhD student from Augsburg in Germany, was of the view that such spaces provide relief to the queer community and help them express their true self.
“For example, here nobody judges me on what I wear or my hairstyle but in the outside world I get judged every day,” Hansen told South First, adding that there is a need to organise more such events.