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A collection of oral histories
of LGBT persons

2. Ashok Row Kavi

Ashok Row Kavi Ashok, born and brought up in Mumbai, worked as a journalist
in various newspapers and magazines for over 18 years. He
then started India's first gay magazine Bombay Dost and later
founded The Humsafar Trust, one of the largest male sexual
health agency in India. He was the first person in India to come
out openly as a gay man and has been a vocal advocate for
gay rights and equal health facilities for MSM and Transgender persons.

Vivek Anand

Concept, Interviews & Direction:
Sridhar Rangayan

project BOLO - vol1

Watch BOLO Video of Ashok Row Kavi


Excerpts from BOLO Interview

Ashok: I think identity was empowered by reading about it. Like
you read about history, you experience it at a certain level in the
gay sub culture. In those days we used to go to Maheshwari
Garden and there used to be parties of men who used to
consider themselves like us. Hum aise hain (we are like that).
Still the question of gay didn't come. With the English group,
we would say 'Oh we are the gay groups'. But with most of the
Indian speaking groups there was no such word as the word gay.

And what they started doing first of all (is), if you were very
affectionate with someone you changed gender, 'Kashius ga bai,
kaisee ho
? (how are you, my sister?)'… You know that sort of
thing. Secondly you started heavily borrowing from Hijra cultures
that was the only openly identified queer culture. So firstly it was
separating you from heterosexual cultures by inverting gender.
You would call each other female.

There is a very good example in England during the time of
Oscar Wilde, which started growing there… the Molly culture,
where you change gender like "how are you Oscarina?".
Something like that. So I became from Ashok… Asha Bai.
Nobody had a problem about it.

Today suddenly these gay guys get very upset when you
change their gender as if it becomes reality. It doesn't, it is a
very affectionate way of looking at it.



India : Queer Ink
International : Amazon

Supported by
UNDP India
Produced by
The Humsafar Trust

Associate Producer
Solaris Pictures
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Adita BandopadhyayAshok Row KaviBetu SinghBindumadhav KhireDalip DaswaniGauri SawantGeeta KumanaGiti ThadaniHoshang MerchantJehangir Jani
LachiLaxmi Narayan TripathiManvendra Singh GohilNishaParmesh ShahaniR.Raj RaoRuth VanitaSaleem KidwaiShivananda KhanSunil Gupta


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