Filmmaker focuses on gay South Asians June 16, 2008Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay & Lesbian, Homophobia, Online/New Media, Sexuality & Gender.
| From India New England: Issue Date: June 1-15, 2008, Posted On: 6/9/2008Filmmaker focuses on gay South Asians
By KARA BECKER
When Sarav Chithambaram set out to make a documentary about being gay and South Asian, he didn’t want to produce the same old coming-out story.
“It’s my life — South Asian Queer Story in America” instead interviews several gay and straight South Asians about how they feel gays and lesbians are viewed in society.
“I don’t ask them about their families or coming out, because the past is the past,” said Chithambaram, a 34-year-old software engineer and activist.
He said coming-out stories tend to be “sad and dramatic,” and that he wanted to talk with people about where they are in their life now.
He hopes the film will start a dialogue between straight and gay South Asian Americans, and how they feel about each other.
“My goal is to educate both of the communities, saying who we are and seeing what the other one thinks of us,” Chithambaram said. “Often times when you look at this kind of stuff it ends up being a monologue, not a dialogue.”
The issues he hopes to address in the documentary are awareness and education, acceptance, harmony and integration. The ultimate goal, he said, will be for all groups of people to be at the last phase, which he says will take a long time for traditional South Asians.
“Where I grew up, like in most Asian communities, we just didn’t talk about a lot of stuff — it was taboo.”
A native of Tamil Nadu, Chithambaram said that moving to Cambridge. has allowed him to become involved in gay-rights organizations. He is a steering committee member of the Queer Asian Pacific Alliance and a former steering committee member of the Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association, or MASALA.
“In India it is very much unacceptable to be gay,” he said. “When I came to the United States and especially to Boston, I finally felt like I could really be me.”
He also said that stereotypes of gay men being promiscuous are still common in American society, especially in popular media, and he hopes his film will help chip away at such prejudices.
“There are all these myths that I’m hoping to help break with positive role models and visibility,” he said.
Paying for the production out of pocket, Chithambaram is still exploring where to screen the work once it’s completed this summer. He plans to show it at film festivals, universities, and house parties.
“I would love to have it screened by a [college] Asian Indian department – it would be a dream,” he said.
He also hopes it will be viewed by the non-South Asian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
“Even queer South Asians aren’t really recognized within the larger GLBT community — they’re a minority,” he said.
Chithambaram is looking for help in post-production. To find out more about his work, e-mail email@example.com.