Hey! I'm Vinay (he/they), a queer and gender non conforming person from Leicester, currently living in London. I moved to London in 2019 to study Mathematics at King’s and graduated last year. I've fallen in love with the city since, so have decided to settle here!
During my final year of uni, when I wasn’t trying to figure out what Euclid’s algorithm meant, I was busy launching a Bollywood dance class with a special focus – centering and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Bollywood. I fell in love with the colour, glamour, drama and sass of it all. I would watch the actresses dance all day on our TV, trying to emulate their femininity. I wanted to be able to celebrate my South Asian identity and explore my queer identity simultaneously, so I started to take Bollywood dance classes.
What I learnt quickly was that there is a rigid structure within the Bollywood world. More often than not, particularly in Bollywood dance spaces, the gender binary is forced upon us; boys are told to enter from one side of the stage and girls are told to enter from the other, costumes are different and movements are dictated based on gender. And what about those who don’t live within this binary? They aren’t acknowledged at all.
In most dance classes, I am usually told to do the ‘boy movements' with encouragement to be stronger and more powerful or ‘warrior-like’ when I move. On the other hand, the girls in class are asked to be graceful, soft and 'sexy' with their movements. It’s not hard to see that there is a big problem here. In this scenario, the enforcement of the gender binary harms everybody. Men are taught that their worth comes from being strong and powerful, women are reduced to being sexualised objects of the male gaze and finally, non-binary people are invisible.
And so, I created Bollyqueer...