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SF’s Commonwealth Club Presents "Spice of Life: Growing Up Queer in India"

Wednesday August 17, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - Just two years after the 2008 Oscar winning "Slumdog Millionaire" renewed our fascination with India, The Commonwealth Club is presenting a closer look at this ancient culture in their August series of special lectures this year.

"India NOW will feature topics ranging from Bollywood to yoga, ancient tradition to remarkable innovation. Home to 1.2 billion people and a burgeoning economy, India is rapidly emerging as one of the world superpowers of the twenty-first century.

Despite its global significance, the world's second-most populous country remains largely a mystery to many Americans. With its vast array of religions, languages, ethnic groups and traditions, India defies easy classification, yet our rapidly changing world demands a deeper understanding of this rich culture.

The Club will welcome a number of prominent India experts from various fields, including academia, business, government and the arts. With a host of speakers, panels, films, and exhibits, the series will shed light on India's complexities and explore its rich diversity.

"Very few Westerners have a true understanding of this enigmatic country - a nation fraught with contrasts and contradictions. On one hand India is overcrowded and poverty-stricken, a place where both cows and traffic fill city streets. But India also boasts a thriving economy and extraordinarily wealthy and educated upper class. We hope to explore some of these ostensibly conflicting realities," said Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Club.

The series organizer, Dr. Carol Fleming, observed, "India is a land of paradoxes: it contains a populace vastly divided along socio-economic and religious lines. We hope to understand the many challenges India will encounter as it continues to grow in both population and wealth.

Despite its global significance, the world's second-most populous country remains largely a mystery to many Americans.

We will examine the country through various lenses, including economics, religion and popular culture."

Future Programs Include:
August 17, Wednesday, 6 p.m.: "Spice of Life: Growing Up Queer in India"

Speakers: Devesh Khatu, Minal Hajratwala, Rakesh Modi. Dipti Ghosh
Growing up gay and lesbian in India imbues a broad world view consistent with the multi-culturalism of secular India and the pluralistic religions of the subcontinent.

At the same time, Asian family pressures drive conformity amid strong expectations of an individual born to be part of a collective. These speakers have each forged powerful identities as accomplished LGBT activists, authors and builders of a new class of LGBT world citizens equally at home in India and the United States.

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's premier public affairs forum, with about 16,000 members. Based in San Francisco and San Jose, the Club hosts over 400 speeches, debates, and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. Since 2007, it has hosted ClimateOne, a leadership dialogue on climate change issues. At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club's weekly radio broadcasts on more than 200 stations across the country.

The Club also broadcasts on XM Satellite Radio and podcasts its programs as well. The Club's programs are now televised on Comcast Premium Digital Cable, FORATV and ABC7, and The Club hosts live interactive broadcasts of its programs on its own Internet channel. For the past century, The Club has fostered free speech and civic dialogue on wide-ranging topics, addressing key issues in society, culture, politics, and the economy.

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