A transgender Sikh comes to terms with a vagina, a Maharashtrian motorcycling champion tells of her hidden sexuality, and an unwitting lesbian is drawn into the Mumbai underworld.
Until three years ago, homosexuality was illegal in India and stories like these about the lives of queer Indians remained largely untold. Now, emboldened by legal recognition and a growing gay-rights movement, queer Indians are starting to speak up. Threats from religious activists against Salman Rushdie prompted him to pull out of India’s biggest literature festival earlier this year but the event’s first panel on queer writing barely raised an eyebrow.
Since then an anthology of queer erotica has hit the shelves, HarperCollins India has published a novel with a gay protagonist, and this month sees the release of Out! Stories from the New Queer India, an anthology of 30 contemporary stories about being queer and Indian from publisher Shobhna Kumar and editor Minal Hajratwala, both lesbians of Indian descent. "For 20 years since I came out I’ve been reading every single thing I can get my hands on that’s queer and Indian, even marginally so, you know even just a hint of queer in there," laughs Hajratwala, who lives in the US.
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