“Stories of most of the protagonists haunt us,” says senior journalist KG Vasuki director of Me, My Self, My Gender, a documentary on the plight of commercial male sex workers, which will be screened in November at the international gay film festival in Slovenia.
“Along with my partner Maya Jaideep, who is also a journalist, I have been working on gender, health, human rights, environment and people’s movement. Me, My Self, My Gender is a 23-minute documentary on male sex workers in Karnataka. It unravels realities and highlights the lives of male having sex with male (MSM) community across Karnataka,” said Vasuki.
The USP of the film is that it is based on research carried out by the sex workers community itself. “The documentary revolves around the issue of the MSM community. It is based on a research done by the community with the help of a joint project by Ashodaya Samithi, Mysore, a street-based sex workers association of female and male sex workers and the transgender/eunuch community, and Manitoba University in Canada. The documentary showcases the lives of MSM in three districts, Mysore, Belgaum and Bellary and documents the conflict in their lives including their fight against social stigma and discrimination,” he said, adding, “The crux of the film is a close look at their social relationships, religion, their acceptance, their love life, search for an identity, the struggle to be part of the ‘mainstream’, their struggle for survival facing oppression and coming out as unique individuals.”
The duo had previously made documentaries on health issues including HIV AIDS in several states including Karnataka. The idea struck when some community members through Ashodaya Samiti, Mysore, encouraged them to document the process.
“It was the male sex workers and their determination that gave us the courage to make this documentary. It took more than a year to complete the film,” he said.
“We are happy that western audience has recognised the problems of the sex worker community in India. As filmmakers, we are really encouraged by the gesture,” he said.
Though treading on a difficult area, the duo did not face any problems in filming the documentary as the community wanted the film.
“The condition of these sex workers is pathetic. They need mainstream acceptance to lead their lives. They need their space in society. Our main aim is to make people aware of this community and bring them back into the mainstream,” he said.