Department of Political Science


Vaania Kapoor

Hi everyone! My name is Vaania Kapoor Achuthan and I am a 2nd year Politics and International Relations undergraduate. In my capacity as the Department of Political Science Intersectional student lead for gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race, my team and I have been able to grow awareness and improve wellbeing amongst underrepresented staff and student members. Through social events such as intersectional documentary screenings, visits to British museums that help us explore colonial history and LGBTQ+ themed walking tours, we have created a space for students of all backgrounds to be heard and acknowledged, building a community spirit within the department that has long been lacking. I hope to continue to be able to work in the field of LGBTQ+ and race activism as it allows me to put forth my expertise in fields that I feel particularly passionate about.

1⃣ LGBTQ+ life at UCL and in London: what’s your favourite queer venue around campus or more broadly around London? (Or even the UK, or the world!)
As a student who longs to find people and build a social life with individuals who also identify within the  LGBTQ+ community, the infamous Glittoris event, hosted by our very own Phineas Bar has been my go to place. Glittoris is UCL students own monthly LGBTQ+ pub night hosted by our Student Union and includes lip-sync battles and drag queen performances, ending the night with some classic music from pop culture. Music, dance and any form of performing arts is intrinsically important for us members of the LGBTQ+ as not too long ago they were our only form of expression. Our vivid history with drag and the more recent incorporation of lip-sync with drag explored by drag historian Joe E Jeffery highlights the importance of having themed nights like this, in order to not only honour the work of previous members of our community but also to keep their legacy going and disseminate important knowledge on the history of our community. Topped up with a welcoming environment and safe social space, this is by far my favourite queer venue to enjoy a night out with friends with a pint…or 10!

2⃣ What is your favourite song/book/movie/art piece/performance/tv show with a plot, character or theme related to LGBTQ+ lives?
My favourite movie is probably “Margarita with a straw”. It is a 2014 Bollywood film depicting the life of an Indian girl with cerebral palsy who later realises that she is bisexual but is afraid to come to terms with it. I love this movie of course because it’s a Bollywood movie rather than your stereotypical Western film and also because it has adopted a highly intersectional approach. It shows the struggle that it takes for someone from a conservative culture to come to terms with their sexuality, particularly whilst battling a disability. Bollywood movies in general have been increasingly more accepting with a variety of intersectional LGBTQ+ movies being launched, such as “Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui '' which highlights the life of a transwoman in India. While the accuracy of these movies are questionable given that more often than not, the depicted “fairytale ending” is far from the truth, they are still definitely worth a watch. Margarita with a Straw in particular is an amazing conversation starter movie and one that I would definitely recommend you to watch with friends that may not be as aware about intersectional issues in the present day.

3⃣ Tell us about the first time or favourite time you interacted with an LGBTQ+ group or community!
My favourite time is probably during Bangalore pride that was recently held in December 2021. Bangalore Pride was cancelled for the last two years due to the Pandemic but I was lucky enough to be able to go back home in time to attend this. The euphoric sensation that you get at Bangalore pride is incomparable- chants in Kannada, Hindi and English, supportive mums with “free mom hugs” banners, people of all ages, even animals marching along with us- just splendid! Pride ended with a fantastic performance by Bangalore’s transgender community- many of whom are forced to live a life of homelessness and beg on the streets because of their gender. This is the one time in the year where issues of poverty, joblessness and starvation faced by many of Bangalore's LGBTQ+ community were placed at the back of our minds as we all came together to support each other and cheer our friends on. Despite living in London, I can say, without a doubt, that Bangalore Pride is the best Pride in the world!