As the Indian Supreme Court considers overturning Section 377 of the penal code — effectively decriminalizing homosexual conduct for an estimated 20% of all LGBTI people on the planet — a victory for the LGBTI community will bring new urgency to the struggle for full legal equality and the bigger challenges of cultural change in a patriarchal society.
Sridhar Rangayan’s latest feature film 'Evening Shadows' takes up these future struggles. “As much as it is the coming out of a gay son, it is also the coming out of the mother as a 'woman' in a patriarchal society,” says Rangayan. “Hope is important because that's what we all need in India, with Section 377 still in place (hopefully not for long) and the society still being discriminatory towards LGBTI persons. I see films as a catalyst of social change, even if it is a long and slow process.”
'Evening Shadows' is currently on the international festival circuit including a recent screening at Outfest in Los Angeles. In addition to a glowing audience reception, Sridhar took the opportunity to introduce a US audience to his other new project addressing the struggle for parental acceptance of LGBTI children.
Sweekar - Rainbow Parents was the subject of his presentation at PFLAG-LA’s monthly meeting on July 18. Inspired by PFLAG’s history of creating accepting families, Sweekar has begun the process of engaging parents in their own coming out process. “Sweekar, the support group for parents of LGBTI children, will benefit hugely when Section 377 is overturned. The very fact that their child is not a criminal will offer solace to parents and help them come out and accept their children more easily. They will also have a stronger argument when other relatives, neighbors or society, in general, try to discourage them. Some of the Sweekar parents are also petitioners against Section 377, so they will have a victory finally. They will be able to bring in more parents into the group and offer them support.”
‘Sweekar’ now has more than 40 parents in Mumbai and other parts of India. They have participated in Pride marches in Mumbai and Pune, been part of panel discussions, including one at the recent KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and also have meetings where they share stories and plan future activities.
Padma Iyer, one of the core team members of Sweekar states, "The pain and agony that a child goes through in the closet, is also the pain that the parent goes through when they understand that they are alone in this journey of acceptance. Sweekar means acceptance and that's how the support group 'Sweekar - Rainbow Parents' was formed. The group is a movement that has no boundaries and we are thrilled that Sridhar Rangayan is connecting our group with PFLAG."
It is very likely that the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 377 will be a historic turning point in the lives of LGBTI Indians and their parents.
Sridhar Rangayan is preparing for the next phase of securing full equality for his community. “The present government has not positively or negatively affected the status of LGBTQ rights. What has been a hurdle is the budget cuts to HIV / AIDS work across the board, including MSM and transgender communities. Because of this many community-based organizations working with the LGBTQ community in small towns have had to fold up. That is a huge deterrent in small towns, to safe spaces available. What we need in India right now is more resources and mobilization for rights-based work.”
EVENING SHADOWS Awards & Honours
- ‘Celebration of Courage’ award at OUT HERE NOW: Kansas City LGBT Film Festival
- 'Free To Be Me' award at Roze Filmdagen, Amsterdam
- Runner-up for Audience Award at Mardi Gras Film Festival, Sydney
- Runner-Up for Audience Award at Roze Filmdagen, Amsterdam
- Closing Film - North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
- Closing Film - KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
- Barcelona LGTIB Film Festival - October 21, 2018
- Chichester International Film Festival, UK - August 12, 2018
- North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival - August 19 & 21, 2018