Pioneering LGBTQ activist Pawan Dhall is KASHISH 2018 Rainbow Warrior

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KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2018 bestowed the ‘Rainbow Warrior’ award to pioneering Kolkata-based LGBTQ activist Pawan Dhall at the Closing Night ceremony on May 27, 2018 at Liberty Carnival Cinemas.

Every year Kashish honours Indian LGBTQ leaders for their outstanding efforts towards LGBT visibility and empowerment. The KASHISH Rainbow Warrior Award, instituted in 2014, recognizes and honors LGBTQ individuals in India who have done path-breaking work in terms of activism or cultural outputs like film, art, fashion, literature to mainstream LGBTQ visibility. Pawan Dhall has been engaged with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer community mobilization in eastern and other parts of India since the early 1990s. He was a founder member of Counsel Club and “Pravartak” in the early 1990s, among the first queer support forums and publications in India. A journalist, copywriter and social communicator, from 2002 to 2014, he was with SAATHII, an HIV-focussed capacity building NGO, as part of the top-level management. He now leads Varta Trust, a Kolkata-based gender and sexuality publishing and advocacy non-profit agency. But among his highest achievements is that he was in the team that organized India’s first Pride March – The Friendship Walk in Kolkata in 1999.

Receiving the award at the hands of Ashok Row Kavi, the first recipient of this award, Pawan Dhall said, “As an activist I think every letter, phone call, email or hug received in thanks for support provided has been no less than a reward because in helping others, we always help ourselves. But this recognition from KASHISH is special because of two reasons. One, Kashish is about countless people’s shared dreams of a life with dignity, it’s about my dreams too. Second, I’m terrible at slogan shouting, but I believe in the quiet strength of the written word in influencing ideas and disturbing lazy minds. I’m glad KASHISH thinks alike. Thank you and best wishes to the KASHISH team for their endeavours.”

“We can’t thank enough the pioneers of the LGBTQ movement in India, for they have paved the way for a more conducive environment for today’s youngsters to live in. Pawan Dhall has been a torchbearer of the East, ensuring his written and spoken words carry far, reaching right into the corridors of government and academic circles. Honoring him with the Rainbow Warrior Award is just our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to his significant contribution to the movement”, said Sridhar Rangayan, festival director

In previous years, the KASHISH Rainbow Warrior Award has been bestowed upon LGBTQ activist Ashok Row Kavi, fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, authors Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil and transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.

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