Over 60 speakers, artists and performers to celebrate love and literature at Rainbow Lit Fest


New Delhi, Nov 26: The Rainbow Lit Fest – Queer and Inclusive is set to take place on 9th and 10th December 2023 at the Gulmohar Park Club, New Delhi. Bringing together diverse voices from across the nation, the Rainbow Lit Fest seeks to discuss queerness, find common ground and stitch more informed narratives about the LGBTQIA+ community.

This year, over 60 speakers, entertainers and performers will participate in the festival. In about 30 sessions covering a wide variety of topics, they will celebrate queerness and love while encouraging inclusivity. The festival will open with a spotlight session with director Jaydeep Sarkar (maker of the new queer docuseries Rainbow Rishta). There will be more such spotlight sessions with Saurabh Kirpal (senior advocate & author), actor Kalki Koechlin, Seema Anand (London-based mythologist; intimacy columnist) and Hoshang Merchant (modern India’s first openly gay poet).

Other prominent speakers include Alankrita Shrivastava (Director & Writer), actor Mona Ambegaonkar, Jaya Sharma (queer feminist activist), Urvashi Butalia (author and activist), Akhil Katyal (poet and queer activist), Poonam Saxena (senior journalist, translator, author), Rituparna Borah (queer feminist, writer, founder – Nazariya – QFRG), Niladri R Chatterjee (author and translator) and Rohin Bhatt (lawyer and activist).

Exploring themes of love and the law, social hierarchies and identities, the relationship between mythology, literature and culture, the overlap between queer rights and feminism, among other things, the conversations will revolve around the Rainbow Lit Fest’s aim to unravel queer history, acknowledge present realities and work towards a hopeful future. Special ‘Spotlights on History’ include revisiting India’s first Stonewall moment with activist Arif Jafar, and another remembering historian and gay rights activist Saleem Kidwai.

Besides history and academia, the Fest delves into the sub-continent’s rich culture of folklore and fluidity to bring together an immersive two-day experience. Five films that cover different aspects of queerness will be screened at the festival, including the award-winning My Mother’s Girlfriend and Muhafiz, among others. Mumbai-based Tamasha Theatre is set to perform Be-loved, an intriguing saga exploring love and freedom through a queer lens, for the first time in Delhi. Performances by queer artists feature musician John Oinam and band, drag performer Lush Monsoon, Geetanjali & Katukaleen rendering Kumaoni folk music, trans performer Avatari Devi, and Gayathri Sharma & Bhadra Sinha in a Bharatnatyam production representing the Ardhanarishvara philosophy.

The winners of the first-ever Rainbow Awards for Literature and Journalism will be announced and felicitated on Day 2. The Fest will also see queer-run enterprises at work through stalls and pop-ups. In addition, there would be a bookstore run by the ‘queer-friendly’ Kunzum.

The festival is being supported by Delhi Queer Spaces, Naz Foundation, Nazariya – QFRG, Keshav Suri Foundation, Official Humans of Queer, The Pink List, The Q-knit, Queering in Chandigarh, Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents and Yes We Exist. Everything from the fest’s location – Gulmohar Park, which saw the early risings of the gay movement at the residence-cum-office of the Naz Foundation back in 2001 – to its belief system – that literature and art should speak for as many as possible, particularly those who aren’t usually heard – sets the Rainbow Lit Fest – Queer & Inclusiveapart.

Festival Director and Founder, Sharif D Rangnekar said, “After the Supreme Court verdict on marriage equality, there is a greater need for the community to come together and voice their views. Conversations around lived experiences are extremely essential in giving the community a sense of space, identity and belonging, while also informing the audience of queerness and the expanse of love and choice.”