Is coming out easier in societies that have accepted alternative sexualities? Is it tougher for migrants holding on to their identity, or are South Asians settled abroad more homophobic than folks back home?
The documentary Desigirls, directed by Ishita Srivastava, addresses the acceptance of gays and lesbians in New York’s South Asian community, through the lens of culture, ethnicity, history, class and race.
"As a documentary filmmaker, I am deeply interested in gender and sexuality issues," says Srivastava, 26, who graduated in English Literature from Delhi’s St Stephen’s College in 2004 and shifted to New York in 2007.
Desigirls offers a glimpse into the lives of two queer Indian women living in New York. ‘A’, 35, brought up in a traditional Indian family in Long Island, feels she would never be able to tell her family she is gay. In contrast, 28-year-old Priyanka, who moved from India to the US when she was 17, has the courage to assert her "pan-sexual orientation, ensuring that her family accepts her on her own terms, explains Srivastava.
She says the the title of her documentary was inspired by a Bollywood song at a party and that she liked the queer subtext in Karan Johar’s Dostana.
Now, after New York’s LGBT Community Center, Srivastava is kicked about the screening of her documentary at Delhi’s Habitat Centre. "The idea of being seen at home is exciting. I guess, like the characters in my film, it is about discovering your identity and celebrating it.
May 26, 7 p.m. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.