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India: First Gay Bookstore Now Open

in INDIA, 05/07/2010

India now has its first all-gay bookseller: Queer-Ink.com, an online bookstore, recently launched in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai, the Hindustan Times reports.

Owner Shobhna Kumar, a lesbian who has worked as a counselor, activist, and HIV prevention speaker, describes her reasons for opening the store as “selfish” ones: "I could not get access to these books and Amazon would not deliver them. I think they wouldn’t get through customs as they offend Indian sensibilities. There are a few Indian online bookstores, but they take weeks to deliver. I figured other people must be in the same position.”

Queer-Ink.com carries fiction, academic books, health books, works on parent-child dynamics, children’s titles, and a host of magazines. Erotica is not for sale. Kumar explains, “Gay people want role models, to see their lives reflected in fiction. I think one would hesitate to pick up books like this in a normal retail space, which is why I did it online.”

Queer-Ink.com also serves as a community portal, complete with a calendar of LGBT events throughout the nation. Many of the events listed so far are discussion forums, as Kumar hopes to encourage people to “talk about queer issues.” As she puts it, “To me, queerness is not particularly about sexuality, but also radical thought.”

She also encourages writers to submit their works to Queer-Ink’s Writers Corner, which the site describes as a “nurturing environment.” The site is “committed to unearthing new voices and [wants to] give them the airing they deserve.”

 

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