Be Proud, Be You: 5 Festivals Celebrating Gender Diversity 

Delve into our hand-picked collection of festivals in India that champion gender inclusivity.

After 17 years of rigorous training under the guidance of Late Pandit Ramarao Naik, Rumi Harish set out to explore the intersection of music and identity. He started experimenting with the art form to weave in his own experiences as a trans-man going through transition surgery. Recently at G-Fest, he documented his experiences beyond the transition process challenging societal norms around gender, voice, caste and patriarchy through a powerful online performance. Similar instances of body performativity and non-binary expressions in art can be seen in inclusive festivals celebrating gender diversity all across India. From fun activities such as drag shows and partner games to the screening of queer films, dance, theatre and poetry performances, inclusive festivals in India are exploring the whole ambit of gender identities through accommodating unique self expressions and experiences. Explore our carefully selected collection of the top five festivals that honour gender diversity in India: 


G-Fest is a 16-day long celebration of artists and the art they have created under the genDeralities fellowship, offered by the reFrame Institute of Art and Expression between the years 2020 and 2022. The artworks displayed at the organisation celebrate gender diversity by contemplating the complex lived realities of women, transgender and queer folk in India today. Highlights at the festival include the screening of excerpts of digital performances themed Songs of Resistance Against Brahmanical Patriarchy, Firefly Women, What’s in a Name, A Feminist in Fragments and much more. The festival also includes live performances by Jyotsna Siddharth and Abhishek Anicca, besides hosting panel discussions and screening of films such as Searcher by Divya Sachar, Can They Hear Our Songs by Mehdi Jahan, Siege in the Air by Muntaha Amin, A Winter’s Elegy by Aakash Chhabria and Ek Jagah Apni by Ektara Collective. 

The festival is being held between 01 and 16 April 2023 at Studio Safdar in New Delhi.  

Image from Mehdi Jahan’s film ‘Can They Hear Our Songs?’. Photo: reFrame institute of art and expression

Goa Pride Festival

Organised by Pranay Priyanka Bhowmick and launched in 2022, the Goa Pride Festival offers a safe space for the queer community and for allies to be themselves and have fun while meeting new people. The festival comprises plenty of fun activities such as fire shows, cine-e-satrangi, partner games, Satrangi bazaar and a gender bender fashion show. The highlights at the festival also include a Latin Mix Dance Party and DJ nights, as well as performances by some of the best artists in the queer community, including Goa-based drag artist Gautam Bandodkar.

The upcoming second edition of the festival, also known as #Pyaarkatyohar will be held between 07 April and 09 April 2023 at Sangria, Anjuna, Goa.

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

Organised by the Kashish Arts Foundation, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is the first LGBTQIA+ film festival in India to have been held in a mainstream theatre and to have received clearance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.  It is now considered South Asia’s biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival. The theme of this year’s festival is “Be Fluid, Be you!”, “giving wings to the aspirations of the contemporary generation that is fluid in their thoughts, actions and sexualities, which is expressed through films, art and poetry that is universal in its appeal.”

The 14th edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be held between 07 to 11 June 2023 at Liberty Cinema in Mumbai, followed by an online festival in the following week.

Gender Bender

A joint project by the Goethe-Institut and Sandbox Collective, Gender Bender, launched in 2015, is a multiarts festival that celebrates questions and fresh perspectives on gender, to generate positive change in society. With events spanning across dance, theatre, performance art and more, the festival throws light on the link between art and gender. Eminent personalities like Gautam Bhan, Nadika Nadja, Urvashi Butalia and Vijeta Kumar have been part of the festival in recent years. Highlights at the festival have included the Gender Bender Library featuring the works of women and queer writers, a Karaoke Bar, performances by The Aahvaan Project, writing and zine making workshops and much more. 

Gender Bender Festival. Photo: Sandbox Collective

Gender Unboxed

Gender Unboxed is a multiarts festival by artists from marginalised genders, creating gender fluid content that promotes an unbiased collaborative art environment. Launched in 2019, the festival comprises events around art and photography, documentary and films, music, poetry, theatre and workshops. Artists who have been part of previous editions of the festival include drag performer Glorious Luna, singer Ragini Rainu and actors Mansi Multani, Nishank Verma and Sapan Saran. 

The upcoming festival will be held in October 2023.

For more articles on festivals in India, check out our Read section of this website.

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