Sing for the Pride
Rainbow Voices Mumbai (RVM), India’s first LGBTQ+ choir group, will be performing on various songsUpdated: Jan 24, 2020 19:08 IST
In 2012, when the Supreme Court of India re-established the British colonial era law Section 377, which saw homosexuality as a punishable offence by up to 10 years in jail, Vinod Philip, a choir boy had just moved to Mumbai from Chennai. He was trying to find an LGBTQ+ friendly choir group in the city but it was getting difficult for him to do so. Then, a friend suggested how Philip himself, should go ahead and start one. The idea was to create a safe and inclusive space, especially for the LGBTQ+ people, who want to sing but are not accepted in the traditional, Catholic choir groups.
That’s when the idea of Rainbow Voices Mumbai (RVM), India’s first LGBTQ+ choir, was born. It was launched with a performance by 22 singers in 2014. Today, they are a team of 40, and they have been practising for their fourth ambitious concert, which will take place this weekend in the city.
“We are not your typical Christian choir. We sing songs ranging from rock and pop to Hindi songs. This year, we have a French song, and we have an Urdu song as well,” says Aashish Pandya, one of the members of the choir group.
The show will be an evening consisting of music celebrating the spirit of Mumbai Pride 2020. “This year the concert is titled Bol Ki Lab Aazaad Hain Tere (Speak, for your lips are free) taken from renowned Pakistanti author Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem. The amendment of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in 2018, came as a landmark achievement, so we aim to recognise its importance. But 2019 was a very challenging year, with the Trans Bill being passed (in Rajya Sabha), which is very discriminatory in nature. This will affect lives of queer people. So, the overarching theme for this year’s choir is ‘Bring It On’. We want to fight against the injustices done to the LGBTQ+ community,” says Aashish.
The choir which started in 2017 is also a way to raise funds that will go towards organising the Pride, a march through town supporting the community. “As a member, I feel, it is a way for us to sensitise people about our issues,” Pandya says. And, like every year, this year too, they will be joined by a few friends from international choirs. “It is bringing the Mumbai Pride to the international audiences, it is sort of like a cultural exchange,” he adds.
What:Rainbow Voices, Mumbai Concert
Where: G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture, Mahalaxmi (W)
When: 25 January, at 7pm.