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Was refused entry to Bhopal Lit Fest as I'm gay: Onir Dhar

Lawson

Kolkata, Jan 16
Filmmaker Onir Dhar -- one of the most heard voices for LGBTQ rights in India, said on Sunday that he was refused entry to the Bhopal Literature Festival on Friday just because he is a gay.

"I deliberately chose the word gay since that is the reason why I was not allowed to deliver my speech at Bhopal," said Onir, the writer of the book "I am Onir and I am gay," at a curated session on the closing day of 14th session of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) 2023 here on Sunday evening.

Onir was to deliver a speech on Friday at Bhopal's Bharat Bhavan at a curated session "Making Literature LGBTQ Neutral".

However, his speech was cancelled at the last moment reportedly because an anti- LGBTQ group threatened to protest his presence.

On Sunday, Onir said in Kolkata that it seemed that the objection was more about him rather than the issue to be discussed at the curated session.

"I heard that the subject-tagline was changed. However, later, I heard another fellow speaker, who is a trans-person, also delivered her speech in the session and she spoke exactly what she was supposed to speak. There I realised that the objection was more about me rather than the issue, which really kept me worried. But anyway! I was sad then. But I am sad no more. I am getting an opportunity to speak here," Onir said.

He said that much before his book came out, "I made my orientation clear on social media".

"But still in this country, some people kept on asking me whether it was true that I am gay. When I grew up, there was not much scope in literature or advertisement or anywhere to express the feeling. But today, I feel happy when someone passing through an airport or a bookstore, clicks the picture of the cover of my book and sends it to me claiming that I really make them feel proud," Onir said.

Colours were added at the 14th edition of AKLF following the presence of Pulitzer prize-winning iconic writer Alice Walker; bestselling author Jeffrey Archer, actor Dhritiman Chaterji, Australian author John Zubrzycki, poet Jeet Thayil, author Anuja Chauhan among the speakers at the literary festival