An annual zine on the LGBTQ community in India is out with their latest edition. And it highlights the lack of dialogue around lust in popular media.
On January 28, 2017, Mumbai witnessed the country’s largest pride march. A week before that, Gaysi, a popular online platform that fights for LGBT rights, released its annual zine based on the theme of desire – its importance in a relationship, and the taboo around lust. Fittingly titled All That We Want, the zine features stories, personal accounts and opinion pieces that celebrate the queer community in India. Three weeks since its release, the zine is now up for purchase.
This particular issue is a series of firsts for the website: it’s their only zine with a dedicated theme, and features a series of photo essays in addition to text. Comprising 28 stories and two photo essays, the zine dives into the deconstruction of pop culture’s depiction of desire. “The queer community is majorly typecast for its sexuality. Desire forms a major part of it. But there are different aspects to desire, most of which are common to both heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships. For instance, our desire to express, desire to write about it, and so on,” says Priya Gangwani (33), co-curator, Gaysi zine.
The theme is chosen in an attempt to strike a conversation about desire among the readers. Gangwani believes that within India, an environment to discuss intimacy and lust doesn’t exist even for heterosexuals, let alone for homosexuals. “Our morality is so strictly stitched to ‘Indian culture’ that there’s not enough representation of desire, especially in the popular culture space. In fact, women who express their desire are stamped with offensive titles,” says Gangwani.
Yet, she is hopeful. Gangwani believes the times are slowly but gradually changing, and that there are spurts of expression in popular media. She recalls the risqué music video, titled Lay you Down, featuring singers Anushka Manchanda and Monica Dogra. “That [the music video] was fantastic. Even Karan Johar hints at his sexuality almost explicitly on every episode of his talk show,” she says.
Highlights from the zine:
1. A fictional account of lesbians in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
2. A photo essay, titled A Homely Girl, that captures intimate shots of a woman in a house playing with sex toys, demonstrates her idea of having fun and gaining power.
3. Author Benjamin Zachariah’s The Sound of Our Lives, a piece on musician Leonard Cohen’s death and his legacy of work. There’s a tip of the hat to Charlie Chaplin as well.
People can order the zine online on instamojo or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org