I want to share a truly moving and important project with you. The India-based Project Bolo is an LGBT oral history project, but given it operates in a country that regards homosexuality as a taboo – and whose recent attempts at decriminalisation are still stuck in the courts -means that the people who appear in these film are incredibly courageous. The Project describes itself in the following terms:
”Project Bolo’ records and documents individual profiles of LGBT persons who have, in their own way, stood up for what they believed in and challenged norms and stereotypes loaded on them by the society. They are also persons who have made a significant mark in their own professional areas of work, be it literature, filmmaking, law, activism, healthcare, journalism, IT, media, etc. Through these recorded interviews, ‘Project Bolo’ hopes to serve as an inspiration to the LGBT community and offer real-life role models.
This multi-generational oral history project, ‘Project Bolo’, hopes to serve as an inspiration to the LGBT community and reconstruct the unique history and progress of the Indian LGBT movement from the early 40s to the present day. Project Bolo in its first phase Vol 1, carried out during 2010-2011, recorded and documented oral histories of 20 LGBT persons in four cities – Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Lucknow : Aditya Bandopadhyay, Ashok Row Kavi, Betu Singh, Bindumadhav Khire, Dalip Daswani, Gauri Sawant, Geeta Khumana, Giti Thadani, Hoshang Merchant, Jehangir Jani, Lachi, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Manvendra Singh Gohil, Nisha, Parmesh Shahani, R Raj Rao, Ruth Vanita, Saleem Kidwai, Shivananda Khan, Sunil Gupta. Project Bolo is produced by The Humsafar Trust in association with Solaris Pictures and supported by UNDP (India).’
The project has a wonderful website with transcripts and videos of the individuals who took part in phase one of the project. Check it out here. The ever brilliant Indian gay magazine, Gaylaxy also includes a piece looking at the project in their latest issue which you can view or download here. There’s also a rather brilliant piece about gay students coming out on college campuses. Moving stuff.