Sopan Muller’s documentary ‘My Child is Gay and I am Happy’, captures the journey of a few parents whose children belong to the LGBTQ community – from their initial shock to the acceptance. The documentary will be screened today at The Village Studio, Parra. NT BUZZ chats with the filmmaker
CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
With India still a very conservative society, coming out as a gay person can be a very trying experience. It is at this crucial juncture that the person most requires the whole-hearted support of their family and friends, especially their parents. But one cannot discount the fact that it is often an equally trying experience for the parents to come to terms and adjust with this revelation. Film maker Sopan Muller has traced the journey towards acceptance of six such parents in his documentary ‘My Child is Gay and I am Happy’.
Released in 2016, the film had its premiere at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and has since made its way to film festivals around India and also internationally like the Prague India Film Festival and the Seattle Film Festival. As part of Kashish Forward, the film has also visited 12 to 15 universities including IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Mumbai, Jadhavpur University, HR College, Sophia College Mumbai etc.
“There is so much of discrimination, intolerance and non- acceptance towards this community and I was drawn to the idea of people who are close to the child and have to deal with acceptance of the child,” says Muller. “I met a few parents who were greatly supportive of their children and I thought that this would not just be a great but also an emotional story to tell.”
Finding parents for the documentary wasn’t too hard in Mumbai, all it took was a bit of networking, states the Mumbai-based Muller, who has been a film maker for almost 25 years working on short films and feature films. “There is this organisation called Gay Bombay which holds meets for parents of LGBTQ people. Of course many didn’t want to face the camera, but there others who were ready to do it,” he says. The 30-minute film, done in a series of interviews looks at how parents first reacted to the revelation and documents the range of emotions that they went through before they got over their reluctance and embraced their children’s sexuality.
And the film has gotten a good response from the audience, says Muller, who is now all set to screen the film at The Village Studio, Parra today, July 5. “It is often a very emotional experience for the audience, especially for those who belong to the community themselves and are not accepted either at home or at the workplace to see these parents coming out and supporting their children irrevocably. There have been times when people have been in tears. It has not only touched people but also empowered them,” discloses Muller.
At the same time the film has also prompted different reactions from people. Muller has been especially impressed by the response of college students. “The students are very curious and always want to know more about the topic. And they are very supportive,” he observes.
Muller also believes that for acceptance to progress, it is important that homosexuality be decriminalised in India to begin with. Once this is done, he says, things will slowly fall into place and improve. “There is also the problem of social stigma. There is need for more social awareness and education. Teaching children in schools about homosexuality and acceptance is very important. Once that is done, people will be more empowered to come out, speak up and be themselves,” he says.
(‘My Child is Gay and I am Happy’ will be screened today July 5 at 7 p.m. at The Village Studio, Parra. This will be followed by a talk by the director Sopan Muller)