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Plight of gay community finds a voice January 27, 2009

Posted by nitinkarani in LGBT, Times of India.
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From the Times of India:

26 Jan 2009, 0443 hrs IST, Radheshyam Jadhav, TNN

PUNE: Offbeat, the first Marathi musical on the problems faced the gay community, will be staged in the city on January 27.

The heterosexual community in Pune has come together to stage the play, which took almost an year to get a censor certificate. Jamir Kamble, writer and director, also went through a harrowing time convincing actors to take up the roles.

“I am gay myself,” says Kamble. “I believe that my sexuality is a vital part of my identity. I have seen that this important aspect of my life is neither accepted by society nor does it find representation in any form. That is how I came up with the idea of writing this play. Thereafter, I had to struggle for almost a year before I could get a censor certificate. After I managed this, I struggled to find actors professional and experimental who could enact the bold roles in my play.”

Finally it was decided that the play would be staged with a mix of gay and heterosexual actors, under the banner of Begum production. “I will not say that we have a great play here, but I am sure that it will question people’s narrow-minded perceptions on gender and sexuality and their definitions of man and woman. It will definitely make people think,” says Kamble.

The play will be staged at Bharat Natya Mandir at 9.30 pm. It is the first Marathi play to speak directly about the problems of homosexuals in India, from the social and legal perspective. Not only does it showcase the inner world of homosexuals, but also uses satire to expose the rigidity of a patriarchal society.

The play mainly highlights the fact that according to the estimates of the National AIDS Control Programme, India has 2.46 million men who have sex with men. However, under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, homosexual acts of sex are banned as unnatural.

“Gay people either become a laughing stock or end up facing brutal reactions and lack of understanding, both at home and in society,” says Kamble. “This lowers their self esteem, which results in an increasing rate of suicidal attempts. It also makes homosexuals vulnerable to infections, like HIV,” said Kamble.

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