LGBTI choirs are commonplace in the US and UK, but far less so in other parts of the world.
Despite having a population of 1.3billion, and an estimated LGBTI population potentially of over 70million, India only got its first gay choir in 2014.
This is perhaps not all that surprising given that homosexual activity is currently illegal in India under the draconian Section 377 of the country’s penal code; legislation dating back to British colonial times.
Rainbow Voices Mumbai began as an initiative of local LGBTI youth group Yaariyan, supported by the Humsafar Trust. The choir offers support for LGBTI people in India and raises awareness around LGBTI rights. It is also championing the work of local advocates in their efforts to overturn this law.
Visiting Pride in London
Members of the choir have been in London over the past week for their first official trip outside of India. They were invited by Pink Singers, Europe’s longest-running LGBT+ choir. For some of them, this was their first visit to Europe.
GayStarNews.com caught up with members of the RVM for a video exclusive on their experiences.
One of the highlights of their trip was marching and performing on the main stage at Pride in London last weekend. They will conclude their trip by performing alongside Pink Singers at London’s prestigious Cadogan Hall tonight (15 July).
‘As we started marching we saw the welcome. We saw the smile on the face of the people. It was amazing,’ says Lokesh Chandra, one of the choir members of his first Pride in London experience.
Manasi Manoj, the lone female member of the choir on the London trip, talks passionately of what performing with the group means to her and others.
‘In India girls don’t have as many right as boys do in general so we’re fighting for feminism on one side and LGBT rights on the other side. So this space, as a bisexual woman, and as a girl in particular, is a safe place for me.
‘There are other people who feel safe at that place so when we’re singing there it’s like the only moment that we really feel ourselves.’
Find out more about Rainbow Voices on their Facebook page.