1991 film documentary by Indian lesbian director Pratibha Parmar. Explores what it means to be a queer (term used here as an abbreviation for "gay, lesbian, bisexual, or just different from the mainstream culture's sexuality") person in South Asia or of South Asian descent. Khush is a collection of interviews with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals of South Asian and in particular Indian descent, interspersed with images from India's past and present --- ancient temples built long before British colonization and the wave of enforced sexual repression it brought, dancers from "Bollywood"-style Indian movie musicals, the streets of modern Indian cities. I found it a thought-provoking treatment of the intersection of identity, culture, and sexuality.
The word "khush" means "pleasure", "joy", or "delight" in Hindi (thanks for the clarification, rischi), and is also the name of a California organization for gays and lesbians of Indian descent. Khush the film uses a lot of sensual images from Indian history and culture. These provide a striking backdrop to the film's discussion of erotification of the exotic, which many of Parmar's interviewees faced as minorities in their queer communities. The highlighted sensuality of Indian culture (which was stifled by British colonization and oppression) is especially ironic contrasted with the stories of Indian women confronted with the rhetoric of white lesbian separatists, which made them feel as though they had to choose between their sexuality and their ethnic identity. Similarly, although immigrant communities provided support against racism and xenophobia, their tight-knit nature was not very supportive for those members for whom heterosexual marriage and children was not a goal.
Some quotes from my notes on the film:
"The best thing for me about being a lesbian is total erotic satisfaction... endless possibilities."
"The best thing about being khush is that women are simply so beautiful."
"...the only way to survive seemed to be to play it as straight as possible... for awhile, play it as white as possible... try to fit in as much as possible."
"[marriage is] a huge problem for us. Because our communities, once again, due to racism, tends to be very conservative and inward-looking, and marriage is seen as a central process to maintain the integrity of our communities. So there's a tremendous amound of pressure, both on men and women."
"So many gay men feel that they have no other alternative to cruising, and being blackmailed [about being gay], and many of them end up getting married because... they don't want to grow old doing these things."
—fortunately, the formation of groups such as Khush in California, Shakti in London, and Trikon in Canada has been a great support to many.
"You have to confront the class issue... your very concepts of sexuality as a middle-class person in India are very different... from the concepts and sensibilities, erotic sensibilities of people from a different background."
"a white lesbian is rooted in Western culture, Lesbos.... that's so alien to India."