We wanted to acknowledge the support of those who have helped achieve fair portrayals of queer issues in Indian media and entertainment, and with that in mind we launched the QMC Awards, in association with the GayBombay group and The Humsafar Trust. The winners were presented the Awards at the QMC Awards function which was held in conjunction with the GB party in Mumbai. Wendell Rodricks very kindly agreed to give out the awards. Some photos and videos are posted on this blog here.
Here’s the list of winners for the QMC Awards 2008:
1. Best Newspaper for Queer Coverage and Representation – The Hindustan Times
This was the most strongly contested award, a welcome sign of the generally improved coverage that queer issues is receiving. The final winner was The Hindustan Times. HT has consistently reported well on queer issues, done original, in-depth stories on the queer community and has highlighted these stories on its front page. The one negative which we felt had to be pointed out was the occasional lack of balance in HT’s Cafe supplement (for Mumbai). We hope this award will inspire HT Cafe to come up to the high standards set by the main paper.
2. Best Magazine for Queer Coverage and Representation – TimeOut
TimeOut has taken the lead covering the queer community as just a regular part of Indian life. TimeOut Mumbai has had a queer column from the start and TimeOut Delhi has a full queer page. Apart from this it has covered queer artists and performers, done articles on queer events and highlighted queer performances. As TimeOut rolls out across the country, with Bangalore next, we look forward to them taking this enlightened spirit with them.
3. Best TV Channel (News) for Queer Coverage and Representation – NDTV
NDTV has gone out of its way to cover the queer community consistently and with sensitivity. It has done in-depth features and talk shows that brought in a wide range of perspectives with almost none of the stereotypes or sensationalising done by most other channels. The coverage of incidents like the Thane raid have shown us how shameless even well known channels can get in their hunt for ratings. And it makes NDTV’s balanced professionalism and sense of responsibility stand out all the more.
4. Best TV Channel (Entertainment) for Queer Coverage and Representation – Zee Café
The media does not only consist of news. Entertainment programming is as important, perhaps even more in shaping attitudes. But entertainment channels are often too conservative, too concerned with not rocking cultural boats. So for Zee Café to run with queer themed shows like Will & Grace or those with queer storylines like Six Feet Under and Oz, and not censor these in deference to some imagined ‘local culture’ is truly admirable and takes us a small, but important step towards changing attitudes.
5. Best Advice Columnist for Queer Coverage and Representation – Dr. Mahinder Watsa in Mumbai Mirror.
Advice columnists offer some of the most direct and widely read discussions on issues of sex and health that are very important for the queer community. Unfortunately, our experience with advice columnists has not always been good, but in Dr. Watsa we have a columnist who is willing to listen and to give sane, non-judgmental advice in his characteristic no-nonsense style. Queries on sexuality are met with the answer that there is nothing wrong in homosexuality, and for further information people are referred to more specialised counsellors such as those at Humsafar. This is probably the best short-term advice and we are grateful to Dr. Watsa for giving it.
6. Best Print Journalist for Queer Coverage and Representation – Bachi Karkaria
Bachi Karkaria has been writing on queer issues long before they became fashionable. She has used her very widely read Sunday column to talk about gay friends and the folly of antigay laws. She has also been a pioneer in writing on HIV/AIDS and has been a strong voice against stigmatisation based on HIV status.
7. Best TV Journalist for Queer Coverage and Representation – Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt has lead NDTV’s coverage of queer issues with reporting and talk shows on the subject. Just presenting the subject on such a widely viewed platform is important enough, but Dutt has also made it quite clear that she believes the restrictions are absurd and should go soon.
Bollywood is perhaps the most powerful medium for communication in India, and too many films have used it to put out harmful or mocking views of the queer community. The few films that avoid doing this really stand out and last year no film stood out more than Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels. The film included not one, but two gay plots, both of them handled sensitively and realistically, and with no indulgence in caricatures.
If it”s rare for TV to do sensitive, in-depth and balanced shows on queer issues, it’s unheard of for it do a multiple part series on the subject. But that’s just what CNN-IBN did in this show. Our thanks are due to Sagarika Ghose at CNN-IBN for greenlighting it and for the Special Features team for producing it in such an exemplary way.
10. Queer Newsperson of the Year – Manvendra Singh Gohil, the Rajkumar of Rajpipla
This award is given for a person who has done a lot to raise queer issues in the media in a personal capacity and also as a commentator. Prince Manvendra has done this despite the considerable personal cost of going public with his story. Most important of all he did so in the regional media which is where exposure on queer issues is most needed. In the huge media attention that followed Prince Manvendra handled himself with dignity, conviction and honesty, proving a role model for other queer people. The episode brought him international attention, which put a spotlight on the wider issue of queer rights in India. The fact of Prince Manvendra appearing on famous shows like Oprah in the US led to further positive media exposure in India. As a result Prince Manvendra is now a spokesperson on queer stories of any kind in the media, a duty he performs with patience and intelligence.