DarkMatter….poetry,politics,fashion and more

DarkMatter is a platform of spoken poetry started by two Asian Stanford students :Janani Balasubramanian and Alok Vaid-Menon. Both identify themselves as brown and transgenders. They are known for their bold and bright style statements and  powerful poetry about their lives as queer and trans south Asian themes.Courbitterbanner

Image Courtsey: AC Voice

They started of their journey in 2009 in Stanford and both of them started working as DarkMatter independently in 2013 after joining slam poetry club at Stanford and also performing at C.U.P.S.I.( college Union Poetry Slam Invitational). They were inspired by lack of representation of colored people in realms of trans activism and decided to focus on their issues drawing their personal experiences. They openly say that is is highly political and they are opposed to “homo nationalism”  an idea which in guise of queer welfare evidently biased towards colored queers and only benefits white queer. This has made them one of the most powerful artist voices in U.S especially in New York where they are based.  In addition to political performances both of them are also engaged with various organizations which are working for Queer people, Alok works as a Fund raiser and Communication  coordinator for Audre Lorde project an organization for queer people of color activism.alokjanani-copy

Read more about them on this great articles by Tammy Danan on BitchMedia: Spoken Word Duo DarkMatter Talks Race, Gender, and Imperialism

and By Jamilah King for Colorlines: DarkMatter: ‘We’re Proud of Our Resistance’

also AC voice at wordpress:Politicizing Art: DarkMatter and Words of Resistance

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Taxi service by LGBT-Wings of Fire

According to the The Hindu reports published on Jan 21, the Wings Travels and Management India  spread across nine cities and 5,500 taxis is going to offer training and employment to LGBT community in the profession of chauffeuring.  The service is called wings Rainbow Radio Taxi service. The company has kicked off a pilot project with 5 people from LGBT community including two eunuchs. The project has been undertaken with collaboration of Humsafar trust based in Mumbai. The project includes one year long training in driving for all Indian license and also customer etiquette.The officials state that they see it launching next year in 2017.The service would not be only confined to people of LGBT community but for everyone.

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Image courtesy: The Hindu

Also the project would be scaled up to all the nine cities including Delhi, Ahemdabad and Chandigarh after the success of the pilot. The pioneer of the project claim that this would help the people of the LGBT community to rise and inculcate in the so called mainstream heterosexual community, providing them respectable livelihood and better ways to interact with the society at large.

One is compelled to deliberate that by providing an affirmative act of providing the opportunity to the LGBT community would help them to feel more exclusive as they want special efforts to integrate in society. The step is welcomed by the NGO Humsafar and others which are actively engaged in upliftment of the community from the dungeons   of anonymity .  Also this step is providing a sort of introspection to all the service providing firms to analyze how they choose their employees and how important is sexuality of the employees. This would also help sensitize the general public about the daily struggle of the  sexually ostracized in finding decent jobs for themselves.

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image courtesy: HT

What is interesting here is that not all the public amenities still offer the option for third gender after NALSA( National Legal Service Authority) judgement(2014), lately only Odisha government and MSME have been using the check boxes with option of third gender on their portals.

The step is commendable and we hope they successfully scale up the model and the project gets replicated  across the platforms and jobs across India and world.

Read the Article by Hindu on the same here:LGBT radio taxi 

Hum Hain Happy-with 6 pack

What is common between Pharrell Williams and a group of transgenders in Mumbai? Well, both of them ask you to be Happy and clap your way to share the happiness. Y -films a segment of the celebrated Yash Raj films has presented India with its latest proud addition- India’s first all transgender Band called- The 6 Pack Band. The video of their first song which is the cover of Pharrell Williams’ global hit Happy(2013) has received more than 1.4 million views on You Tube which is quite a history in its own measure. indiae28099s-first-transgender-band-1

Hum Hain Happy

The video portrays them all dolled up in bright colored lehnga cholis and singing and dancing in different settings- from chauls, near beaches and in office. The song also highlights vividly the practice of their signature Taali (Clap). The Trans look no less than actresses in bollywood songs with all the makeup, jewellery and hair done.

They have become mini celebrities – professional choreographers, make up artists, producers, dancers and dress designers  and creative directors are working with them.All of them projecting their own understanding of Hijras in practice.The dance , drama and clothes all is manifestation of a trans dream in their head. The attempt is subtle and does not play with the identity of Hijras in our society but only puts them in settings where they are not anticipated . The Best part is that they even sing in English.Surely there are many layers to this song.

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Watch The making of Happy

Also by doing this the curator- Shameer Tandon and his team has also opened up new discussion on question of inclusion in Indian society. It is a double edged sword- in a way that it allows the viewer to make peace with the fact that Hizras are dancing in the office but doesnot allow them to work in the same office as well or dress the same way.It is exclusion in inclusion. The idea of Hizras in viewer’s mind becomes romanticized all thanks to Yash Chopra’s style of larger than life setting. This could be received in different ways: viewers might think it is the jovial life they live, while others might try and question their beliefs about them.  In any of the cases at least people are made to think about them.

In India Yash Raj is a renowned and credible label with them coming out to bring light on their status ,it would certainly gauge common so called”main stream” audience. attention.In Bollywood, where the projection of LGBT community has been highly sexualised  and problematic, this comes out as a welcoming gesture.

Till now they have posted three videos including Hum Hain Happy and a teaser of their new sing where they are seen sharing space with Sonu Nigam. It would highly recommended and useful to see their progression to trace out media’s role for them.

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Check out the new teaser

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