When Aligarh writer Apurva Asrani tweeted a photo of himself with Hollywood actress Ellen Page and Ian Daniel, it created quite a stir! Ellen’s visit to India has been kept under wraps as she doesn’t want too much talk around her trip. On her itinerary is Mumbai and Delhi where she plans to interact with members of the LGBTQ community for the second season of her show Gaycation and Apurva was one of the chosen people for the show. Gaycation is a docu-series on the struggles of the community across the globe and the first season covered countries like the US, Japan, Jamaica and Brazil. In 2014 Ellen made headlines when she came out of the closet with a moving speech that was widely appreciated.
During her stay in Mumbai, the Juno actress spoke with several members from the community to know more about the queer support movements in the city. Ashok Row Kavi, the founder of Humsafar Trust, says that his meeting with her was scheduled for about 45 minutes, but it spiralled into a two-hour long conversation.
Ashok says, “Ellen was interested in knowing about the different kinds of LGBT movements in India as compared to those abroad. The gender and class bias in the country surprised and fascinated her and she was wondering where the bisexual and lesbian women are? He continues, “India is currently at the forefront for the fight of legalising homosexuality and the world is looking at us. The diversity and gender divide was absolutely fascinating to her and she admitted that it was a learning experience. She even attended two parties during her stay here, to gauge the social interactions within the community.” The parties were hosted by Bombay Dost and The Gaysi Zine Family, two of the most prominent queer collectives in the city. She also took part in a game of badminton in the suburbs.
Equal rights activist Harish Iyer, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as an “Ellen lover”, didn’t want to reveal much about his meeting with her. But speaking of the initiative, he says that any kind of advocacy is welcome. He also shed light about the struggles he faced while making a film on his life.
“Homophobia is rampant in Bollywood, and while finalising the actor for Amen ( a film based on Harish’s life) we had a tough time, as no one was ready to play the role. No Indian actor except Aamir Khan has walked the extra mile to support our cause. We need our actors and stars to use their power to support us, not with mere elite tokenism but actually make some contribution through their art. Ellen is an international face who is daring to feature countries across the globe, that have laws prohibiting homosexuality. She’s setting a brilliant example,” Harish says.