We exist! Queer South Asians are reclaiming the debate about LGBTQ education
#BritainWeExist is in response to the #NoOutsiders protests that have been taking place around Birmingham schools in recent months, protests that are set to continue into the new school year.
“The protesters claim to support the LGBTQ community, yet at the same time they do not accept Queer Muslims…” explains curator Ash Kotak. “Privately, most other South Asian communities in the UK react in the same way – it’s ‘okay for others, but not for our own’. There is a shift in attitudes, but not fast enough.”
#BritainWeExist also coincides with the first-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, with the striking down of parts of Section 377 of the colonial-era Indian Penal Code.
The festival begins on 30 August at London’s Saatchi Gallery, and will run until 2 September. The program includes talks, films, conversations, and play readings, exploring what is it to be British, to be British South Asian, to be Queer British South Asian, and to be a Queer British South Asian of faith.
#BritainWeExist will also investigate the long history of the struggle for visibility by Queer British-Asian people.
“This is a unique moment…” confirms Kotak. “Representatives from all over the country will come together to network, share histories and experiences of this undocumented narrative.”
The festival then continues at the Royal Society of Arts in London from 20 September, culminating at the Horse Hospital on 11-12 October when the complete timeline of the Queer British Asian experience will be presented.
“The final part of #BritainWeExist is a new national public art installation…” explains Kotak. “The installation will be created by artists and activists from our communities, to our communities, to assert our visibility with 52 billboards in predominantly South Asian areas across the UK.”
Be part of the launch event
The festival will be officially launched on Friday 30 August at the Saatchi Gallery.
Presenting the launch are the team from Club Kali.
“The pioneering DJ Ritu & social entrepeneur Rita, are the dynamic women behind Club Kali…” explains Kotak. “Club Kali is the longest-running South Asian club in the world, but Club Kali is also much more – it’s the leading LGBTQ community space connecting cultures through music, dance, education and emotional support. At the launch event you’ll be able to hear about the foundations of Club Kali, its roots and inspiration, and hear some classic tracks from Ritu’s 1980s global playlist.”