Varta webzine completes four years on August 1. The path was never easy, was never meant to be but we are learning through every moment of setback and we are growing. This calls for a celebration. This also calls for a moment of introspection about our journey and many other similar journeys. What does it mean to produce media content that centres the voice of the proverbial ‘other’? What is at stake in doing so?

Today there is some consensus in the statement that the mainstream media is much more open to covering issues around non-normative sexualities and genders in India. However, this does not mean that back in the 1990s, when stories around gender and sexuality were less visible, they were all problematic. In fact, quite the opposite. There were several media persons who wrote pieces that are extremely important to the histories of queer articulation in the media.

Alongside, this was also the time, when queer groups started writing about their own lives and stories in print. Some of those publications have grown from strength to strength while some have died. Even as we speak, there are newsletters and magazines being brought out by newly emerging groups.

Varta itself has a long history going back to the early 1990s when it started as Pravartak, became Naya Pravartak and then after a long gap, in its current digital format as Varta. So, we thought that there could be no better way to celebrate our birthday than to revisit the histories of how and in what form are our stories being told, who are telling them and most importantly what is being told. Please join us for this interactive session with journalists and activists who have been doing this for many years now.

Our panellists for the evening will be:

Soumitra Das, senior journalist who writes on culture and heritage

Dr. Subhagata Ghosh, founding member of Sappho and Sappho for Equality, and Editor, Swakanthe (In Our Own Voice)

Sukhdeep Singh, Editor, Gaylaxy Magazine

Sanjoy Kr. Gayen, Editor, Dream News; and

Pawan Dhall, founding member and Editor, Varta, and gender and sexuality rights activist.

This event is a joint effort of Alliance Francaise du BengaleKinky CollectiveKolkata Rainbow Pride Festival and Varta Trust. Please join us for refreshments post the discussion.

Click here for the video recording of the event – Editor.

Main artwork credit: Courtesy Alliance Francaise du Bengale (newspaper clipping visible in the artwork is of an article titled Sad to Be Gay published in The Statesman in the early 1990s – the clipping is sourced from the Counsel Club Archives maintained by Varta Trust).