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Queer food for thought

Have you ever paused mid-bite to consider that there may be cultural politics at work behind the chicken burger you’re tucking into? From the fish-loving Bengali to the vegetarian Gujarati, our food habits, likes and experiments are governed by our upbringing and social norms.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 30, 2012 15:10 IST
Sarit Ray

Have you ever paused mid-bite to consider that there may be cultural politics at work behind the chicken burger you’re tucking into? From the fish-loving Bengali to the vegetarian Gujarati, our food habits, likes and experiments are governed by our upbringing and social norms.

So what does that have to do with queer politics? The 14th issue of the annual queer zine, Scripts, published by the feminist collective Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action (LABIA), explores the connect. The theme for their new issue is food. Chayanika Shah, a member of the collective, explains, “In every community, there are taboos associated with food. There are similar taboos associated with being queer — and it leads to expulsion from communities and families. The political struggle for acceptance works in a similar way.”

While the writers and illustrators are from the LGBT community, they are not trying overtly hard to force comparisons with queer issues. Smriti, another member of LABIA, who has worked on the editorial content, says that the stories are all on food and people’s experiences with it. “Our last issue was on travel. This time, it’s food, which is also a metaphor for what’s allowed and what’s forbidden.”

At the launch event, there will also be a screening of a film called Stir. Fry. Simmer by film-maker Vani Subramanian, that deals with food and its perceptions. The invitation we received curiously mentioned something about ‘LGBT food counters’. But Shah tells us that’s a surprise you must attend the event to find out about.

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