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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont


The month of June is designated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in commemoration of the Stonewall uprising against police harassment in New York on June 28, 1969. It’s a time when San Francisco is alive with parties, marches, and celebrations. For South Asians two notable events are the San Francisco International LBGT Film Festival presented by Frameline, and the DesiQ 2006 conference organized by Trikone.


The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with more than 260 features and short films. Among them are these Indian films:


SHABNAM MOUSI directed by Yogesh Bhardwaj (150 minutes). A film about Shabnam Mousi, a kick-ass Indian politician who leaves the baddies in the dust, literally, while draped demurely in a sari. She is also a hijra, a member of India’s large community of eunuchs. Fluent in 14 languages and adept at arm-wrestling, she is the first hijra to successfully run for political office. Most interesting of all, she’s a real person. Shabnam Mousi is no documentary, though. It gives the real Shabnam’s larger-than-life story a full Bollywood treatment, cranking up the melodrama, music, and mayhem. Tuesday, June 20, 8:30 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre.

YOURS EMOTIONALLY directed by Sridhar Rangayan (86 minutes). Ravi is a young Indian man living in England who impulsively heads to an all-night gay party in an Indian village, dragging his British friend Paul along for the wild ride. Thankfully, Ravi has the wisdom of Murthy and Anna to guide him. They share their stories of defying tradition, loving against all odds, and being true to oneself. Invigorated by his time with the couple, Ravi meets Mani once again to see if their fates may indeed be intertwined. Saturday, June 24, 6 p.m. at the Roxie Film Center.


HARSH BEAUTY directed by Alessandra Zeka (53 minutes). Harsh Beauty follows the lives of Jyothi, Usha, and Hira Bai—three eunuchs who live as women in
India, as they struggle to find a place for themselves in a culture splintered by religion, caste and politics. Monday, June 19, 8:15pm at the Roxie Film Center.

THE BATH directed by Sachin Kundalkar (20 minutes). Set in Mumbai, where it is estimated that more than 10,000 men are employed as sex workers, The Bath begins to erase some of the stigma of male prostitution. Screens as part of the Worldly Affairs Shorts Program. Friday, June 23, 3 p.m. at the Castro Theatre.

THE PEGASUS (6 minutes) is the first Bengali queer music video by the progressive rock band Cactus. Screens as part of the WORLDLY AFFAIRS Shorts Program. Friday, June 23, 3 p.m. at the Castro Theatre.

June 15-25. Venues: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco; CineArts, 85 W. Portal Ave., San Francisco; Roxie Film Center, 3117 16th St., San Francisco; Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco; Parkway Theatre, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. $10 regular screening, $7 matinee. Festival passes available.


DESIQ 2006

The theme of the four-day DesiQ 2006 conference is “From Visions to Action.” In a previous conference in 2000, participants discussed their visions for the South Asian queer community. This conference will revisit the visions and formulate an action plan to move forward.

The workshops and panel discussions will cover issues of coming out, dating, relationships, substance abuse, immigration, safe sex, HIV/AIDS, spirituality, domestic abuse, advocacy, and families. DesiQ 2006 will provide a great platform to bring together LGBT South Asians young and old, from activists to artists, from students to professionals, and celebrate the diversity within this community. The conference will culminate with a gala banquet and contingents that will participate in the SF Dyke March (June 24) and the SF Pride Parade (June 25).

—Ashok Jethanandani

June 21-24. San Francisco. $75 one day, $175 full conference and banquet. (415) 487-8778.

Ashok Jethanandani

Ashok Jethanandani, B.A.M.S. is a graduate of Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Jethanandani now practices ayurveda in San Jose.