‘Queer Futures,’ the 3-day workshop on gender and sexuality, was hosted by the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative from March 14–16, 2019. It was co-organised by Dr. Nida Kirmani, Associate Professor of Sociology, LUMS, along with Dr. Omar Kasmani, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Freie Universitaet, Berlin.
As an event, the workshop challenged boundaries that were commonplace, created space for diversity, and channelled collective thinking towards emancipatory, inclusive futures. While debates around gender and sexuality may still be a rarity in Pakistan, significant progress has been made over the recent years through legislative reform, additional gender categories in the national database, and the Aurat March. Queer Futures provided a safe and vibrant platform for conversations long overdue. Local and international scholars, activists, artists, and interested individuals joined in on the discussions. Dr. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, delivered the opening keynote for this event, which was entitled, ‘Abundance: Sexuality, Historiography, South Asia.’
With a focus on Pakistan, the workshop explored a cross-cutting interest in questions of language, location and queer forms of belonging. Across different sessions, participants discussed the politics of archiving history, questioned the need to trace back and unearth ‘proof’ of an original existence, tackled ideas of affect and emotion with regard to language, highlighted the distinctiveness of local forms of gender variance and marginality (which were further linked to ethnicity and class) as well as the translocal politics of naming gender/sexual identities. These concerns were featured across a number of formats including academic talks, artist dialogues, literary readings, a round table discussion with local activists, and a film screening of Yeh Freedom Life, accompanied by a Skype session with the film director Priya Sen.
“Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.” — José Esteban Muñoz, 2009