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Desi Festivities and the Rainbow

Ah, the aroma of karaah prashad, the lingering sweet and milky flavor of payasam, the shimmering of the Diwali lights, the childlike anticipation of getting your Eidi or kharchi, or the excitement of ripping apart the gift wrapping of your Christmas presents! Desi Festivals take so many of us back to the memories of joyous and pompous celebrations.

However, these beautiful memories are often cut short with some bitter remnants of the past and the present. “I do not want to wear a sharara, Ajji! I feel like a boy inside.” “I do not want to pray for a future husband, Ma! I dream of getting married to a girl like me.” “No, Nanaji, your grandson dreams of a beautiful groom, not a beautiful bride.” These thoughts were kept buried deep inside the hearts, less often said. If uttered, they were often met with confused resentment. “Log kya kahenge? What will people say?” “Someone cast an evil eye on my kiddo.” “Why are you punishing us after all we did for you!” “You have changed.”

Even years after being in a comfortable space with their identity, a vast number of Desi Queer and Trans Folx are often left with minimal support from their families. If not outright rejection, it comes with a lot of passive rejection, often leading to estrangement and prolonged periods of distance. Queer and Trans Folx feel isolated, especially during the Desi Festivals, which at one point of time had been such an important part of their lives and included a sense of belonging and sharing with the family and the community. The other side of the picture is that the parents and the families of Queer and Trans Folx also feel isolated, exhausted, and rather helpless during these times of apparent joy and fun because of this emotional distance from their Queer and Trans loved ones, irrespective of where they themselves might be in their journey of acceptance.

This is what drives Desi Rainbow’s mission. More than being an organization, Desi Rainbow is a community, a chosen family, a welcoming space to the Queer and Trans Folx, a mentor to the parents and the families who are trying to move forward in their journeys of acceptance for their Queer and Trans family members.

The South Asian traditions are vast and diverse. One single festival is marked with different traditions. Desi Rainbow not only acknowledges this variance of cultural, religious, and social identities in the Desi Diaspora, but also provides a space to celebrate these festivals with your chosen Desi Rainbow Family in a manner that is not only inclusive of Queer and Trans Folx but rather celebrates their identities and their journeys. We provide a space where a Queer or a Trans person can be their complete, unadultered self and be celebrated for it.

In the past, we have hosted Faith and Family discussions about how Faith can be inclusive of Queerness. We recently celebrated a Dussehra/Garba Gupshup. It was heartwarming, even emotional, to see Desi Families come together to celebrate with their Queer and Trans children of different ages. We even met an adorable 9 year old trans kid. We are soon celebrating a Queer Gurupurab and are in the planning phase for Queer Christmas and Queer Eid.

This is what Desi Rainbow is about: celebration of Queerness in the most Desi way, with pomp and show. It is about Desi Families coming together, giving comfort to one another with their sheer existence, providing support to one another through their shared and diverse lived experiences.

Remember, the Rainbow is full of different colors. A Rangoli is made up of many hues and shapes. Henna leaves a whole different spectrum of red-brown hues on each person. This difference or rather the celebration of this difference makes us beautiful and very Desi. Here is hoping for every Desi Family in the world to celebrate every Desi Festival in the most Queer and Trans Affirming, Inclusive, and Celebratory manner.

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