2nd Dhaka Pride: Bangladeshi LGBTIQ+ Community Reclaiming Space in the World Pride Map

By September 30, 2022 Newsroom, Regional

In June 2022, the Bangladeshi LGBTIQ+ community celebrated its second Dhaka Pride virtually – another fabulous show for the LGBTIQ+ community to celebrate diversity, courage and pride. Bangladesh Queer Partnership Platform (EQUAL), with its member organizations – Inclusive Bangladesh, Prantoz Foundation, Shree and Rum Jhum Nrittalaya, arranged its 2nd Dhaka Pride virtually on 3rd June 2022. Hundreds of community members from all over Bangladesh joined live to explore this year’s Bangladeshi Pride event.

Unlike the previous year, this year’s Dhaka Pride was full of excitement as the host, Ali Asgar Tara (she/they), kept the viewers in a pride mood throughout the event. Tara is a New York-based Bangladeshi artist and an assistant clinical professor focusing primarily on body and space as a primary element of their practice. Tara’s work surrounding gender, sexuality and social taboos often reflects upon the struggle with the conservative Bangladeshi attitude towards members of LGBTIQ+ communities. As a host of this year’s Dhaka Pride, Tara reflected the influence of art and culture on the LGBTIQ+ community and highlighted how we could use art as a tool to be free.

Photo: Ali Asgar Tara while Presenting, Courtesy: Ali Asgar Tara

This year, Dhaka Pride witnessed a performance from LGBTIQ+ members from both rural and grassroots levels. Many performers could not afford a better handset to record their performance, yet every one of them was too enthusiastic about showing their diversity. Ramjan Hossain who came from a remote village in Bangladesh sang a heart-touching Tagore song. He performed his love song without any background music and yet touched everyone’s heart as the viewers commented that they were thoroughly enjoying the theme and doing lip-sync with him. Ramjan and his performance proved and encouraged other queer people of remote areas of Bangladesh to come out and express their true selves!

Classical fusion dance is trendy in Bangladesh, and many notable LGBTIQ+ community members lead the dance industry here. Yet, expressing sexual and gender identity through dance for advocacy work has not reached the general population as expected. Sarwar Islam Fahim, one of the professional dancers, brought the idea to present a solo classical fusion dance to express queer love. He chooses nature as the dance background to show the connection between nature, queer and love. Viewers wholeheartedly enjoyed his performance as well.

Photo: Sarwar Islam Fahim While Dancing, Courtesy: Sarwar Islam Fahim

Queer literature publication and distribution to Bangladeshi and Indian LGBTIQ+ communities is challenging. Yet, Samjid Hossain Ador devoted himself to generating a literature-minded LGBTIQ+ community in Bangladesh and India. Samjid recited a poem on love, sorrow and betrayal and created an atmosphere of thought among the viewers. Through his presentation, he extended the question of queer love destiny as it is mostly full of sorrow and betrayal.

Readers might already know  Sanjiboni Shudha who was the first transgender in Bangladesh to dedicate her time to assist to the burial service of covid deaths, as published by APCOM last year. Sanjiboni became a professional banker this year but she did not give up her dance practices which she loves. This year, Sanjiboni brought an instant dance performance that captured the Dhaka Pride audience. This dance was the true reflection of herself, a pleased and thankful transgender person who is truly happy. Her performance brought a breeze of happiness to the viewers.

Photo: Shanjiboni While Performing, Courtesy: Shanjiboni Shudha

Dhaka Pride is not only about song and dance but a complete form of enjoying life. This year, live art drawing by Arup added an awesome vibe among the LGBTIQ+ people in Bangladesh who love drawing and painting. With the tag line “I am they/he/she, obstacles can’t stop me”, Arup drew a meaningful art piece for the viewers to express his solidarity for the LGBTIQ+ identities.

Photo: Arup Introducing his Art Concept, Courtesy: Arup

Tarin Tani, one of the energetic transgender activists and entrepreneurs from Dhaka, showcased her dance skills by expressing the desire for the love of a transgender woman to a tribal man. In Bangladesh, the LGBTIQ+ advocacy circulates mainly among the mainstream Bangladeshi people, while indigenous LGBTIQ+ remain excluded. Through this performance, Tarin wanted to show how inter-ethnic relationships can also be a part and desire of LGBTIQ+ people. Viewers were mesmerized by her performance.

Photo: Tarin Tani While Presenting her Dance, Courtesy: Tarin Tani

When we talk about indigenous and tribal LGBTIQ+ people’s inclusion, Dhaka Pride would not be complete without the participation of those marginalized people. Sharar Khan Shweching brought a shower at Dhaka Pride as he sang the nostalgic rain song of Tagor. His music truly reflected the monsoon season of Pride month and how various romantic queer memories developed over the ages just by surrounding the monsoon. This was the second time he was presenting his melodic vocals for the audience of Dhaka Pride.

Photo: Sharar Khan Shweching Singing Tagor Song, Courtesy: Sharar Khan Shweching

NaimuL Islam, one of the queer individuals from a small city, presented a courageous belly fusion dance at Dhaka Pride, spreading inspiration for others and getting instant rivals from the audiences who were offering him to be in a dance competition. Many audiences expressed their interest in performing their belly dance at the following year’s Dhaka Pride.

Photo: Naimul Islam Performing Fusion Bally, Courtesy: Naimul Islam

The fantastic acrobatic dance show by another indigenous queer individual Babu Marma snatched the charm from everybody. He showed his acrobatic skills through his flexible body with various trendy songs while doing a little mix of belly dance which emerged to be a viral dance move among the Bangladeshi LGBTIQ+ community. Babu not only inspired the Dhaka Pride audiences but also left a message of our presence and multi-talent in every sector.

Photo: Acrobatic Dance Show of Babu Marma, Courtesy: Babu Marma

Dhaka Pride 2022 finally ended with the dual dance show by Ananya Sharmin and Kazi Raihan, two prominent youth dance artists of Bangladesh who not only acquired fame for their skills but also for their vibrant dance shows around Bangladesh. They danced to a current popular song released just about a week earlier.

Photo: Anyana Sharmin & Kazi Raihan Performing Dual Dance, Courtesy: Kazi Raihan

Dhaka Pride, with the tagline #Power2Pride, was initiated by some Bangladeshi youth LGBTIQ+ activist. Dhaka Pride s aims to reclaim and reshape LGBTIQ+ spaces within the community in Bangladesh and also to be a part of the global pride organization to celebrate our holistic diversity, ensuring our human rights and express solidarity with others who still find it difficult to express who they are. While still operational online, Dhaka Pride has gathered massive appreciation, not only from the local LGBTIQ+ communities but also globally, for its willingness to spread courage and diversity.

Photo: World Pride Map 2021 Published by Outright International, Courtesy: Outright International

Bangladesh was erased from the Global Pride Map in 2015, but it was back on the world pride map in 2021! The report titled “Visible: Pride Around the World 2021” by Outright International highlighted how virtual pride in a conservative country like Bangladesh can still go on, sidelining the risks associated with offline pride. The Bangladeshi LGBTIQ+ community is proud of showing a new way of pride and activism for others. Through this, we see the day not far when we will be on the road again, celebrating pride and waving our beloved pride flag.

You can view the full Dhaka Pride 2022 Show HERE.

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