Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Queering books

Stories are a powerful medium to talk about unchartered territories. Many of us forget the path-breaking story written in 1941 by Ismat Chugtai. Lihaaf was a controversial story that shook society out of its stupor by making bold suggestions of a same-sex relationship. The story was even challenged in court. Ismat Chugati won the case.
Compared to the backlash then, one must admit that the publishing industry and readers have both embraced diverse stories. There are several books we could suggest and this list is a mere starting point.

1.      Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society edited by Ruth Vanita
Queering India provides an understanding of same-sex love and eroticism in Indian culture and society. The topics are wide-ranging and look at films, literature, popular culture among others.

2.      Because I Have a Voice: Queer Politics in India edited by Gautam Bhan and Arvind Narrain
This book expands the scope of queer politics in India. It has essays as well as personal stories.

3.      The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story by A. Revathi
An autobiography of a Hijra, this book is courageous and a must-read for all of us. Revathi speaks about her childhood, the violence she experienced and her emotions with a deep honesty. 

4.      Shikhandi and Other Stories They Don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik
Devdutt Pattanaik has several books that lend a queer eye to mythology. Shikhandi coupled with Pregnant King are a good window for us to see how homosexuality exists within Indian Mythology.

5.      Gaysi Zine – Queer Graphic Anthology
Not much of a reader? Looking for some fantastic art? This anthology is for you. Full of powerful, concise storytelling, the Gaysi Zine was the first of its kind in India. The book is put together by straight, queer, young and old artists with a story they are waiting to share!

Share your thoughts if you have read any of these books. Comment on our blog, Tweet, Facebook comment books you may have read and enjoyed that we have left out!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Moving on

Advertisements, films and other media when studied over a period of time show society's shift in thought. They in many ways are a mirror to our society, thoughts and expressions. This obviously means we would love for them to be diverse in their representation and inclusive in their approach. But is this always possible? When it comes to queer lives, do we have more options for diversities in genders and sexualities on screen? Have advertisements in our country changed the way they portray queer lives?

We look through a few advertisements that we found interesting over the past few years.

Back in 2013, Fasttrack released it's advertisement with the catchy tagline "Come out of the closet". There were reasons to cheer even as important questions jumped out of the closet. Campaign India in this piece ( looks at the motive behind the campaign. Fasttrack made a bold choice to take on societal taboos, urging all of us to break out of our own boxes and come out.

Recently, another advertisement released by Anouk ( looked at a lesbian relationship. It lends a gentle, nuanced eye to an intimate relationship between women who are meeting the parents. The advertisement itself is longer than usual ads and challenges us to look beyond the heterosexual norm. A giant leap forward for us all!

While the argument stands for greater representation on media, many activists and LGBT+ community are weary about the way this representation takes place. Advertisers themselves function within boxes of their target audience aka consumers and the product they are selling. They toe the line of selling an idea in a unique way while not losing their market entirely.

Amul has some of the best print advertisements. They have always made smart, quirky moves that questioned the norm with a bold touch.

This advertisement was featured on hoardings as well as in papers. This was in fact right after the 2009 judgment around Sec 377 which shows their interest in reaching out to marginalised communities. When this was overturned in 2013, they put out another advertisement which expressed their emotions on the decision. (

We might agree these advertisements are fantastic. We might find them infuriating and misleading. Both these thoughts can co-exist in our world. But we have to agree that these advertisements are great starting points to understand and build conversation on LGBT+ lives, even as we create more spaces for diverse representation within media.

(These are some of our thoughts on the advertisements. Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet or FB us. You can also share other advertisements that you felt were great!)