Every Sunday for over a year, a group of LGBTQ people in Mumbai get together to sing music. Whether it’s Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, Shafaqat Amanat Ali’s “Ye Hosla Kese Ruke”, or a mix of Bollywood classics, Mumbai’s Rainbow Voices choir has an important message of equality to spread through music.
“Through our music, we want to keep the hope of equality and justice alive in India” – Rainbow Voices
Rainbow voices has had many small but significant victories, including helping many families accept their LGBTQ children. Another victory has been their pride walks, in which member Manasi Manoj says, “The moment we started walking, people were like ‘Oh my god, they’re here!’ They were welcoming us, they recognized we are here.”
Rainbow Voices was founded in the summer of 2014, when founders Vinodh Philip and C.V. Matthews realized the need for an LGBTQ-friendly choir in India. Mumbai needed a safe haven for people in the community who wanted to sing. Within a year of its development, Rainbow Voices had over 40 members.
Many of the members are employees who work 9 to 5 jobs, students, and remote freelance workers who dedicate every Sunday to celebrate equality and justice. “It is the only place where I can drop all guards, laugh, and trade silly lines; it gives me a sense of community,” said one member.
Rainbow Voices is clearly doing everything they have set out to do. In addition to sold out concerts and an upcoming performance with the Pink Singers – a popular LGBTQ choir in London, the choir has also assisted many members with coming out of the closet to their families.
However, with all of this work done, Rainbow Voices believes that they still have a lot of work to do. Even though the choir is thriving, LGBTQ equality in India still has a long way to go. “Recognizing civil unions and same sex marriages from other countries within India would be a good way to kick-start these changes”, says Rainbow Voices member Ashish.
Despite the circumstances, however, Rainbow Voices has definitely made a mark in India and around the world. There is more work to be done, and there is no doubt that Rainbow Voices will rise to the occasion.
Watch Rainbow Voices perform with the Pink Singers in London!