Happy Pride Month! I am sure your TBR is bursting at the seams with queer book recommendations from the bookish community.
We have come a long way from when homosexuality was criminalized in India. Scrapping Section 377 or not, members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Indian struggle every day for respect and acceptance. By family, friends, and the society at large.
Today I share with you must-read LGBTQIA+ memoirs and personal narratives. By no means an exhaustive list. But if you are new to the genre or want to explore more Indian writings, these recommendations are a great place to start. Stay tuned as I will continue to share more Indian LGBTQIA+ book recommendations.
Me Hijra, Me Laxmi
by Laxminarayan Tripathi, P.G. Joshi (translator)
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is one of the most popular transgender rights activists. Born in an upper-caste Brahmin family and assigned male at birth, she struggled to assert her sexual identity before she found her true self—she was Laxmi, a hijra.
Originally written in Marathi and translated into English, Me Hijra, Me Laxmi explores an extraordinary journey of a hijra (a colloquial term for transgenders) who fought against tremendous odds for the recognition of transgenders and their rights. Be sure to check out Red Lipstick: The Men in My Life by the author too.
The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story
by A Revathi, V. Geetha (translator)
Assigned male at birth, village-born Doraisamy (her birth name) ran away to Delhi to join a house of hijras.
The Truth About Me is a courageous and moving autobiography of A Revathi who fought ridicule, persecution and violence both within her home and outside to find a life of dignity. Originally written in Tamil and translated by V. Geetha, it is the first of its kind to be written by a transgender.
A. Revathi is a well-known trans activist working with a Bangalore-based NGO. I would also recommend A Life in Trans Activism by the author.
Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India
by Maya Sharma
It is a popular misconception that lesbians in India are all urban, cosmopolitan, upper-class privileged women.
Loving Women: Being Lesbian in Unprivileged India dispels this in a series of personal narratives by women with little or no privilege. A compilation of life-stories of ten working-class queer women living in north India. Stories of underprivileged women as they navigate through compulsory heterosexuality and patriarchy.
First published in 2006, it is as relevant even today. A lot has changed in a decade and a half. But then, nothing has.
A Small Step in a Long Journey: A Memoir
by Akkai Padmashali
Transgender activist and campaigner Akkai Padmashali minces no words. A Small Step in a Long Journey throws out a challenge to society, demanding not sympathy or pity but acceptance, recognition, and respect.
An honest yet disturbing read about her fight for identity. The deep biases among police and politicians. A critique on how the support for trans people is not democratized. How the voice of the working class is always suppressed in favor of the elite. This book is a must-read.
So Now You Know: Growing Up Gay in India
by Vivek Tejuja
The year was 1991. Vivek was eight. He realized he was gay.
So Now You Know: Growing Up Gay in India is an honest and heartbreaking account of growing up as a gay in the 90s. A time of stereotypical Bollywood representation. How queerness was (and still is) unacceptable irrespective of privilege and class.
Vivek Tejuja is also one of the most popular members of the Indian book community. Narrated in a series of vignettes, this 160-page book is a personal favorite.Gender Identity & India – LGBTQIA+ Memoirs and Personal Narratives #HappyPride @CindyAnnDSilva @nooranand #BlogaberryDazzle #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
No One Else: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex
by Siddharth Dube
It is dangerous to be gay in India. Truer words could not have been spoken in 2015 when homosexuality was criminalized in India. When homophobia was rampant (not that it still isn’t).
No One Else: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex is an honest-to-goodness account of the life of a gay man. Some truth bombs about rampant sexual abuse in prestigious institutes. Corruption and bigotry in renowned organizations that are actually meant to support the community.
This book is not to be missed.
Straight to Normal: My Life as a Gay Man
by Sharif D. Rangnekar
He gained an identity but lost a near lifetime, looking for love and companionship.
Spanning across decades from the 1970s to when Section 377 was scrapped, Straight to Normal: My Life as a Gay Man is as much a memoir as it is an exploration of community and culture. At times an uncomfortable read as the author struggled with confusion, vulnerability, fear, dejection and depression. Written with the hope to help those forced to be “straight” and “normal”.
What are your favorite LGBTQIA+ memoirs and personal narratives by Indian authors? Do share about them in the comments below.Gender Identity & India – LGBTQIA+ Memoirs and Personal Narratives @blogchatter #CauseAChatter #Inclusivity #LGBTQ #BookChatter #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
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