A story for everyone #WithPride
Hey! India, it’s time to celebrate. The much-needed, much-awaited history was made on Thursday when the Supreme Court of India passed the landmark judgement that defanged the colonial-era Section 377 of the IPC by ruling that it is not a crime to engage in consensual gay sex in private. The world is celebrating this historic moment that spells equality and freedom for all. We have curated a selection of books which tell stories of queer community, their struggles, challenges, and what it means to be LGBTQI+.
If you haven’t read the Lihaaf (a 1942 Urdu short story by Ismat Chugtai), you could start with that, or you could choose one of the following.
Eleven Ways to Love
A collection of 11 essays, written by various authors in prose and verse, this books is about love and its pursuits. Queer love, transgender love, body issues, disability, and polyamory are some of the subjects of these truly inclusive writings.
This one is the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in fiction, besides many other awards.
Arthur Less, the almost 50-year-old protagonist, is a failed novelist who receives a wedding invitation from his ex-boyfriend of nine years. To avoid going to the wedding, he accepts invitations to literary events around the world, and, thus, begins a novel about “mishaps, misunderstandings and the depths of the human heart”.
Fifty Shades of Gay
Inspired by EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey, this book tells a story of a man who loves men. Young celebrity blogger Alex Kriby gets to interview Hollywood star Taylor Grayson, who is a closeted gay. This slash fiction will keep you hooked till the end.
This one is a moving tale of a transgender sex worker, Madhu, in a red light area, who is given the responsibility of a ‘parcel’, or the 10-year-old girl who has been sold to the brothel by her parents. As Madhu sets out to accomplish the task of grooming the girl for sex, one learns her story of how she was born a boy but was now a eunuch.
This one is a graphic novel for adults. A gripping story about Kari, a woman who loves women. A slice of life story, this explores a lesbian’s attempt at finding love. You will love it for its illustrations as much as for its text.
A collection of short stories around the life of Mohanaswamy, this (almost) bildungsroman has the character negotiating the reality of being a homosexual in India. He harbours the dream of living a dignified life and finding love. This book is considered as the coming-out-of-the-closet tale for the author himself, who is a well-known name in Kannada literature.
The secrets of My Life, Caitlyn Jenner
This is a memoir of Caitlyn Jenner, who was born as William Bruce Jenner. Jenner was a man and fathered six kids from three wives — until 2015, when she came out as a trans woman. The Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete and TV personality talks about the sense of shame and deceit she felt as she concealed her true self from the world.
The Pregnant King
This one is a work of fiction by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik that talks about “the imperfection of the human condition and our stubborn refusal to make room for all those in between”, according to the book’s blurb. A beautiful tale of love, jealousy, and confusion, the book tells us about a king who wants to father a son, and becomes pregnant when he drinks a magic potion by mistake.
Ellis and Michael are 12 when they become friends, learning to cycle and swim together. They grow up and then they are more than just friends — they are also lovers. But then Ellis marries Annie, and the three become a friendly trio. However, Michael has to move away, and life is not the same for the three of them. Matt Haig writes on the cover: “This is an astoundingly beautiful book. It drips with tenderness. It breaks your heart and warms it, all at once.”
Pick up Devdutt Pattanaik’s Shikhandi to understand that queerness has been part of the written and oral traditions in Hinduism, for thousand years. For instance, the story of Shikhandi, a woman who became a man, is a part of Mahabharata. The tales in this book also draw comparison with their Greek, Chinese, and Biblical counterparts to help understand the Indian way of making sense of queerness.
Interact with the author @MedhaShri/Twitter