Sweekar: The Rainbow Parents – An Interaction

One of the KASHISH 2018 allied events was the interaction with the Sweekar-The Rainbow Parents, which is a support group for parents of LGBTQ children. The discussion was held on May 26, 2018 at Liberty Carnival Cinemas. The group already has forty members, Pan India. The interaction was conducted to facilitate dialogue between parents who have accepted their LGBTQ children, and those who want to find help in reaching out to their parents.

The main speakers for this event were Chitra Palekar, Nilakshi Roy, Aruna Desai and Arundhati Sanyal who are out and proud mothers. The event was solely focused on the inception of  Sweekar –the Rainbow Parents which was followed by a discussion on its journey after its creation along with inputs from other LGBT children and their parents.

Palekar said she was not only accepting but also supportive of her daughter when she came out. However, when she attended LGBT meeting and events, she would notice that there would only be gay men and no lesbians, and at parent meetings she would find that there would barely be any fathers. Moreover, she and a few others felt a need for a confidential space. “Only parents, no children, no matter how nice they are” says Palekar. The main reasons that called for this were because parents have not reached 100% acceptance, or that they do not want to come out on a societal level, and most of all they needed a platform to share their stories, problems and concerns about their children.

The first ever session was a day long workshop which was basically just a meet and greet session where a certain level of bonding was achieved between the parents. “The second session” says Desai “was the time when the name and logo was decided”.  And it was in the third session of Sweekar that the group decided to march at the Queer Azaadi March in Mumbai. According to them it was a glorious moment because when individual parents come and march it did not have an impact. But a group of parents at pride would have to be recognized. It implied that the government would have to listen to their concers to as Section 377 of the IPC does not only affect the community but also their parents and accepting family members.

The support group meets once every three months and has an informal structure but is proactive none the less as they are parts of think tanks and often meet up with lawyers and work actively with the Humsafar Trust as well.

The children of these parents also mentioned that they/we as the LGBT feel alone many times but when they/we come out to their parents, they feel even more alone and they/we essentially push them into a closet. Thus, this group of parents appealed for more members and said “The more we are, the stronger we are”.