A flagship campaign organized by the SDC Kerala with the support of ‘Queerala’ — a LGBTQ+ Organization of Kerala — ‘Snehapoorvam Sahayathrikark Oppam’ was a part of our continuing popular movement that seeks to empower the LGBTQ+ community in Kerala. Since the very first moment of the official launch of the campaign on 1st November, 2020 by reputed artists of the film industry itself it attained incredible support from the diverse sections of the state, including the social, cultural and political spectrum. We are delighted that the event of the second day was formally inaugurated by Shri K. Sethuraman (IPS), DIG, Kannur Range in the esteemed presence of other guests including Shri Ranjith Sankar (Cine Director), Vihaan Peethambar (LGBTQI+ Activist) and Dr. Datchanamoorthy Ramu (Founder, Sustainable Development Council) who addressed the inaugural session which was presided by Shri Avinash Ashok (State President, NYCI). During the inaugural address, Shri Sethu Raman (IPS) reminded that the LGBTQ+ community were not considered as a distinctive community in the medieval India, but they were treated with equality, and the recent discrimination of the community in India is just because of the narrow mindset prevailing in our current society. Efficient policing may change it and it could be ensured with the inclusive participation of the LGBTQ+ community, he added.
Dr Datchanamoorthy Ramu also addressed the session and stated that the basic issues which affect the LGBTQ+ community must be addressed in proper platforms that could make our society a better one. Sustainable development in society should include the development of the LGBTQ+ community by ensuring prominent roles for them.
Vihaan Peethambar shared his observations about the differences between the treatment of LGBTQ+ community inside and outside Kerala and added that our initiative is highly applaudable for the coordination work that has undergone in the background. Everyone agreed that the formation of communities, like QUEERALA and SAHAYATRIKA, have helped the Kerala society to be more cooperative to such communities. Finally, and importantly, Ranjith Sankar proposed that more films are made to be on such communities to raise more awareness on the matter as it may influence every realm of society and Government level policies to reform the societal mindset.
The success of the program was very much evident through the live sessions, that contained Expert Panel Discussion, Talks, Life Experience Sharing et cetera, with the active participation and engagement of several community organizations, rights activists and cultural icons. We are still getting inspiring feedbacks from those who are working towards uplifting the marginalized sections. The inaugural session was followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion on the topic “LGBT+ Community-Social inclusion and equity” and “LGBT+ Youth journeys of Self – acceptance” where our guests incl. Shri V.T Balram (MLA), Dr. A.K Jayasree, Shri. Vihaan Peethambar, Smt. Maya Krishnan, Shri Nikesh Sonu, Smt. Daya Gayathiri, Ms. Dhanya Ravindran and Shri Adam Harry participated to raise many relevant points.
Shri V.T.Balaram MLA recollected his experience from a program that he attended back in 2011 to point why many people were unwilling to participate in such campaigns due to the stigma associated with the community and added that the things are much better today because of the initiatives taken at the government and social levels, which includes the transgender policy implemented by the previous UDF Govt. in Kerala. He stressed on the importance of avoiding tokenism and promised that LGBT friendly policies would be framed and a transgender bill would be placed in the assembly, if a Congress government comes back to power in the next state election.
Dr. A.K Jayasree considered it an achievement that these sensitive topics are very much discussed today and called for allocation of more resources and funds to this arena. She strongly argued that the World, as a community, should apologize to the LGBT+ community for the atrocities committed on them and the syllabus in the schools and colleges should focus more on gender inclusiveness, as the world is still homophobic to a huge extend and the LGBT community do not find acceptance even within their own families. Smt. Maya Krishnan lamented on the hypocrisy of the civil society in the matter of LGBT+ rights, strongly critiqued the normative heterosexuality and also raised several cases of discrimination against the LGBT+ community even in the so-called gender-neutral places like the Kochi Metro Rail. She vehemently talked about the long history of Article 377 and how it was repelled while stressing upon what needs to be done at the societal level even after the legal victory.
Shri. Vihaan Peethambar shared his story of journey from the very day that he realized that he was a transman to the most recent episode of guilt feeling born out of confusion, lack of clarity and confidence in himself today. He doubts whether the society get well-informed about the LGBT+ community or will it take much time and energy to make them understand. He stressed on the need for sex education in schools and colleges and wish the society to speak against homophobia and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community. ‘Reflect, educate and advocate’ are the three tips he puts forward to the society. Adam Hari added that it’s extremely protestant situation that the transgender community is blatantly ignored and marginalization in the field of employment and education and even denied the possibility of survival. He pointed that Lesbian persons are very quiet about the LGBT+ category and are often denied the possibility of self-realization.
Dhanya Ravindran stressed upon the need to be aware of the political correctness of using the term transgender while Daya Gayathiri said that the support for the transgender community, which is a gender minority in the public sphere, is often lacking. Another Panel that followed introduced two organizations i.e. Queerala and Sahayatrika which are working for the gender minorities in the state. The panelists were Smt. Deepa Vasudevan (Founder, Sahayatrika), Anand Ampeethara (Board Member, Queerala) who exchanged dialogues on ideas to strengthen the position of Kerala’s LGBTQ+ community. Smt. Surya Ishaan also delivered a special talk at the summit.
The closing ceremony was inaugurated by the versatile cine actress, Ms. Kani Kusruthi and Ms. Anannyah Alex was the special guest of the session. Kani Kusurthi, in her inaugural speech, clearly stated that the systemic thinking that still exists in our society, so many genders, and many columns holds a primitive view and these have yet not completely changed. But at least now, we are becoming a strong voice in this area and added that it must been viewed optimistically, while Anannyah Alex asked a valid question that how many progressive directors and how many film organizers are coming forward to make a film that includes both men and women in the LGBTQ+ community?
Is a baby Mary enough in Malayalam cinema? and added that all these are not happening on the moon and hence movies should be made in society for all the social beings.
It concluded with the remarks of Mr.Vimal O & Mr. Anand Ampeethara who coordinated the program and announced our resolute to work with SPC, NCC and NSS organizations in schools across Kerala to take this campaign forward and spread further awareness on the subject.