by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Trikone Northwest (TrikoneNW), a supportive LGBTQ organization for South Asians in the Pacific Northwest, held BollyQ, a community outreach event, at Café Metropolitain on April 3. SGN was on hand for the fun and festive event, which, according to TrikoneNW officials, was "aimed to promote general awareness about Queer South Asians."
"The purpose of putting on BollyQ was twofold: visibility and fundraising," Paul "Bish" Biswajit told SGN. "We feel that it is very important to have the voices of Queer South Asians heard in the Seattle LGBTQ community - and events like BollyQ are a step in that direction."
According to Bish, TrikoneNW is a unique, safe space. "The organization is an intersection of race, ethnicities, gender, and sexuality," he said. "Mainstream LGBTQ spaces are often predominantly white, and mainstream South Asian spaces are predominantly heterosexual. BollyQ provides a space for visibility and celebration of intersecting identities which are historically marginalized."
On April 3, Café Metropolitain was transformed into Bollywood. Guests had the opportunity to meet with TrikoneNW members, don traditional South Asian attire, and learn customary dances while listening to the tunes of DJ Anjali. "Café Metropolitain were gracious hosts. We were given free reign to decorate and convert the space into a realm straight out of Bollywood," Bish told SGN. "Over 200 people showed up to dance their behinds off."
Bish says that events like BollyQ are central in the effort to encourage the acknowledgments and acceptance of diversity in the Seattle LGBT community. "BollyQ was a success because of the diversity of the people who attended. The spectrum included race, orientation, sex, gender, and age," he said. "The Seattle Gay community seems to have several subdivisions with limited crossover. We have the Gay bars and the Lesbian bars, the bear bars and the twink bars, and then, of course, the various culturally specific straight bars. BollyQ was a chance for everyone to come together and get a taste of another culture while having a blast!"
"It was exhilarating to watch people of various ages and genders, Queers and allies, join in the dancing during the 'Bollywood 101' dance instruction by DJ Anjali," added Bish.
TrikoneNW officials say that BollyQ is also essential to underscore the South Asian Queer presence in Seattle. "It helps people in the mainstream community connect with the South Asian community in a fun interaction," said Bish. "In addition, it helps to educate South Asians, both Gay and straight, that there are several South Asian Queers in Seattle and there is an organization that caters to their needs. In the words of our community members at the national level, 'We're here, we're Queer, and we eat paneer!'"
TrikoneNW organizes social events such as monthly potluck dinners and movie nights, provides visibility for South Asian Queers at Pride via the TriknoneNW float, facilitates dialogue on South Asian Queer issues, and partners with South Asian social justice organizations. According to TrikoneNW officials, the term "South Asian" refers to people who trace their roots to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Fiji, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. www.trikonenw.org.
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