“Are you a…a Lebanese?”, nervously asked Kaira’s uncle in Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi (2016). He meant to ask, of course, if Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is a lesbian.
Dear Zindagi played with the confusion and ignorance that surrounds queer identity among Indian families. Rhea Dease’s animated short film Rainbow in a Brown World goes many steps further in answering often absurd questions about sexuality. Aarti, a young queer woman, ducks the bouncers with patience and humour.
Dease, an animation graduate from the National Institute of Design, has made the film for Gaysi Family, an online forum for the queer community.
Among the questions Aarti faces are “How you turn gay?” “Do lesbians even exist in India?” “What will mummy tell Shalini aunty now?
The brightly animated three-minute film cheerfully shows what it’s like to be queer and in love. “But you don’t look gay!” says one woman. Aarti answers light-heartedly, “Well, neither did your husband when you first got in!”