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The deadline for GFest 09 is fast approaching: 29 June.  There are few interesting developments to note, as we start the demanding job of sorting all the entries & selecting work that is to be featured at GFest 09. We hope to have the initial process completed by July end.

In the first week of June, I attended a conference in Regents Park (London) on ‘ Sexual Health and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Men-who-have-sex-with-Men (MSM)’. One of the delegates raised a fairly well known but now relatively forgotten point.  He came from ‘up North’ & mentioned his working class background. He made an interesting observation saying that ‘a few decades ago, a solid, macho working class culture did not allow much sexual or gender equality because of the stereotypical role played by men (then).  I wonder if there were parallels with the  BAME communities?’ To attain an acceptance of homosexuality & same-sex relationships from Minority Ethnic communities, people have to also address gender equality issues in BME groups.

Which brings me to my next point that is linked to the one above. Just before the conference I started reading a book that I picked in Mumbai a few days earlier. I was hesitant to mention it here since it’s not available online or in bookshops in UK, Europe or USA. It’s called ‘Autobiography of a Sex Worker’ by Nalini Jameela. Like its predecessors from similar genres, this small book is also an interesting read – and imparts a unique fragrance from the local cultural soil of South India.

Despite its vulnerability to criticism due to a number of shortfalls, something that is not lost in the book’s English translation (from Malayalam) is a simple, endearing reality of sexual networks/ pick-up points / encounters that exist in rural areas or small towns in that part.  Although Nalini only mentions same-sex instances a few (3 /4)  times in book, mostly in fairly positive light, I felt an urge to promote this book to a larger audience. I can say that based upon my own familiarity, to some degree, with such (Same-sex networks, not the heterosexual ones as in her book) networks for nearly a decade…

It’s worth a read, If someone can manage to promote the book in this country.

And now it’s time to go back to GFest submissions…., do keep submitting your proposals on : www.gaywisefestival.org.uk , deadline: 29 June 5.00 PM.

Niranjan Kamatkar June 2009

www.gaywisefestival.org.uk ; www.wisethoughts.org ; http://marginalien.blogspot.com/2007/09/nalini-jameela.html ; http://www.flipkart.com/autobiography-sex-worker-nalini-jameela/8189975110-fw23fp427f ;

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main13.asp?filename=hub073005the_life_of.asp;

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