As the world marks Pride Month this June, city-based writers and activists say it is necessary to have more LGBTQI characters in our books to make queer people’s life stories be read by all.
Tamil writer, transgender rights activist and motivational speaker Kalki Subramaniam is among the few authors in the country writing about transgender lives. Her collection of Tamil poems titled Kuri Aruthean, published in 2015, threw light on the transgender community. Kalki, however, feels that not many from the queer community have been able to tell their stories. “Most of the literature written on the queer community in India has been done by non-queer persons. There are only a few people from the LGBTQI community who have turned into authors. With queer persons having been oppressed socially for many decades, it is important for us to write our own history — whether it is through fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Even though there is nothing wrong with non-queer persons attempting to write about the LGBTQI community, they would not have gone through the emotions and struggle that a queer person would have,” Kalki tells DT Next.
Author A. Revathi published her autobiography as a trans woman in the book, The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story, which was published in 2010. Her story was also published in Tamil as Vellai Mozhi, making her one of the first few authors to have written about the transgender community in India. “There are very few books in the country portraying the lives of transgender community. To my book, which was the first ever book published on transgender people, I have seen a good reception not just from the LGBTQI community, but also from others. There is a need to have the literature on queer people as part of school curriculum, so that there can be better understanding of the community,” says Revathi.
The founder of city-based Sahodaran (which has been working for the LGBTQI community since 1996) Sunil Menon C says with the revoking of Section 377, there are more opportunities to write about the queer community. “Earlier, many authors were hesitant to take up queer subjects. With Section 377 revoked, I see more opportunities to write about the queer community. It is, however, still not considered okay for someone to pick up a book on the LGBTQI community. Even though there have been many writers featuring queer subjects, there is a need to be politically correct with an elaborate research about the community. Authors from the queer community, on the other hand, are not receiving enough promotion for their writings. There is also a need for popular fiction and non-fiction authors to include queer characters in their books,” adds Sunil, who is also a fashion choreographer.